[CT Birds] Siskins, Subjectivity, and Statistics

Steve Mayo rsdmayo at sbcglobal.net
Sat Jan 10 13:50:08 EST 2009

I got my first Pine Siskins today.  I'm smiling, because (1) I get to see a dozen on nyger socks 6 feet from my window (instead of in clouds of 50-100 streaming by in November at Lighthouse), and (2)  because I was sincerely surprised to see them.  I was bemused whenever anyone on CTBirds said "I got my Siskins".  I thought the phrase implied it was a sure thing, just a matter of time.  Now that they are at MY house, I am really marveling about how many individuals must have made it to Connecticut!
I've enjoyed the discussions of this winter's Long Island Sound waterfowl population.  Winter waterfowl populations here in Connecticut undergo wide fluctuations, in response to many factors including breeding success and weather.  DEP, Jack Barclay at UCONN, et al,, have done many interesting long term studies.
Lighthouse Point Park hawk watch data is part of the Raptor Population Index http://rpi-project.org/ study.  Lighthouse has over 30 years of data.  Even with dozens of sites reporting decades of data, some trends are hard to see.  Others, are very statistically significant and very disturbing (eg., the steady and consistent decline of American Kestrel).  
The other night, Gordon Loery was featured on "Positively Connecticut"  He laughed about long term population studies comprising 5 years.  He's personally logged 50 years of bird research at White Memorial.  His effort is very rare and very valuable.
I've enjoyed everyone's comments about Meadowlarks.  We all know we won't be studying the malar areas of coastal wintering meadowlarks, as they flit around, a quarter mile away.  But we learned a lot and will remember to take a second look and listen, if the opportunity presents itself.    
And based on all those discussions, I've decided I've seen 3 Yellow-headed Blackbirds, in among the tens of thousands of icterids at Lighhouse Park last fall.  I really didn't "see" any Yellow-headed Blackbirds, but it sure makes statistical sense doesn't it?   Ed Shove used to say, "I've seen every bird ever reported in Connecticut, I just never identified every one."  Considering how many hours he logged, I kinda believe him.
Thanks everyone at CTBirds for being so entertaining and informative.
Steve Mayo

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