[CT Birds] Connecticut Christmas Bird Count 2012-2013 (Part 1)

Stephen Broker ls.broker at cox.net
Wed Mar 6 21:28:52 EST 2013

From Steve Broker (Cheshire):

With 15 of 18 Connecticut Christmas Bird Counts reporting this year, here is a preliminary look at the statewide results.  (This year's results are examined in the context of the last 30 years of data.  Statewide totals are given in parentheses.  CW stands for Count Week, species not seen on count day but recorded three days before or three days following the count.)  An analysis of the 2012-2013 Connecticut CBC, now in preparation, will appear in an upcoming issue of The Connecticut Warbler.


Part 1. Geese through Falcons

Geese:  Greater White-fronted Goose was found at Edwin Way Teale, Trail Wood and Hartford.  Snow Goose at Hartford (2), Greenwich-Stamford (CW), New London (2), and Old Lyme-Saybrook (4) produced the lowest total in 29 years.  Brant (2,469) has enjoyed high numbers for the last 10 years.  Hartford and New Haven found 2 Cackling Geese each.  Canada Goose (34,852) was at a 7-year low.


Swans:  Mute Swan (724) was at a 30-year low.  Something to get addled over?  Still waiting for that CBC Trumpeter.


Dabbling Ducks:  Good to average numbers for Wood Duck, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon (4), American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler (8), and Green-winged Teal.  American Black Duck (3,322) was at second lowest numbers in 30 years.  Mallard (9,324) was lowest in 30 years.  Quinnipiac Valley recorded 1 Blue-winged Teal, last seen on a CT CBC in 2008-09.


Diving Ducks:  Good to average numbers for Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, and Ruddy Duck.  Canvasback (16) had the second lowest total in 30 years.  In 1982-83 we counted 3,188.  Redhead (CW at Greenwich-Stamford, CW at Old Lyme-Saybrook) is increasingly difficult to find.  This year, Greater Scaup (2,625) stalled in its recent comeback bid.  Common Eider (132 at New London, 1 at Stratford-Milford) was third highest, but well short of the 1,282 seen a year ago.  The scoters were generally on the lower side.  Common Goldeneye (860) was second lowest in 30 years.  Hooded Merganser (2,843) sets a new record high and continues a remarkable 20-year increase in numbers. 


Gallinaceous Birds:  Ring-necked Pheasant (12!) continues a 10-year decline with a record low total.  Ruffed Grouse was missed for the first time in 30 years.  Wild Turkey strutted in at reduced numbers that are more representative of 20 years ago.


Loons and Grebes:  Red-throated Loon (325) and Common Loon (395) took a dive from last year’s record high counts, but they’re still enjoying expanding early winter populations in our coastal shores and inland lakes.  Pied-billed Grebe (49) and Horned Grebe (191) were counted in average numbers.  Horned Grebe is variable from year to year.  Red-necked Grebe has been counted on 26 of the last 30 CT CBCs, and 2 were seen this year at New London.


Gannets, Cormorants:  The 30 Northern Gannets don’t compare with last year’s 250, but this bird has become much more a fixture in Long Island Sound.  Cormorants can be variable in numbers, and this year they were in average supply.


Herons:  American Bittern has been reported in 27 of the last 30 years.  This year, Storrs did the honors by finding 1.  Great Blue Heron (274) continues strong early winter numbers.  Great Egret (1 at Greenwich-Stamford, 8 at Stratford-Milford) produced the third highest total, still well below last year’s 25 statewide.  Black-crowned Night-Heron (19) is variable from year to year yet was counted this year in average numbers.  Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is a statewide rarity, only 4 being seen in 30 years.  Stratford-Milford’s CW sighting gave the CTSM count a bonus bird.  The White Ibis seen at Stratford-Milford is new to the 30-year list and a strong candidate for Bird of the CT CBC Season.  The only time this species has been seen previously was in New London in 1979-80.


New World Vultures:  Black Vulture (75) has been counted each year since 1995-96.  This year’s total is the lowest in 8 years.  Turkey Vulture (379), in triple digits for 17 years, was at a 9 year low.


Hawks:  Osprey has lingered into the CT CBC season in 21 of the last 30 years.  Hartford recorded the only one (CW) this year.  Bald Eagle (87) was counted in good numbers for the 10th consecutive year.  Northern Harrier (47) was less commonly seen this year.  Sharp-shinned Hawk (74) slipped to numbers more representative of the early 1980s.  Cooper’s Hawk (121) began outnumbering Sharp-shinned Hawk in 2004-05.  The gap is widening.  It’s always a challenge to find Northern Goshawk.  The counts that succeeded this year were Trail Wood (1) and Pawling (3).  We tallied 168 Red-shouldered Hawks two years ago, but this year’s total (117) was still worth screaming about.  Red-tailed Hawk tallied the lowest total in 23 years.  Rough-legged Hawks at Barkhamsted (CW), Pawling (1), and Old Lyme-Saybrook (1) gave a meager statewide total.


Falcons (sorry, not quite ready to group them with parrots):  There is no apparent recovery of American Kestrel (9) on our CBC.  By comparison, we counted 149 in 1983-84.  Merlin (18) began outnumbering kestrel in 2003-04.  What a switch!  Peregrine Falcon remains a state-endangered species, but 22 this year account for our second highest total.  

More information about the CTBirds mailing list