[CT Birds] Connecticut Christmas Bird Count 2012-2013 (Part 4)

Stephen Broker ls.broker at cox.net
Wed Mar 6 21:32:35 EST 2013

From Steve Broker (Cheshire):

Part 4. Wood-warblers through Old World Sparrows

Wood-warblers:  This was an unusually big year for the parulid, with 8 species being recorded.  Most notable were Black-and-white Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, and Nashville Warbler at New Haven, Pine Warbler at Barkhamsted (1), Trail Wood (1), and Salmon River (1 – new to that count).  Common Yellowthroat, Palm Warbler, and Yellow-Breasted Chat also were represented.  But, what’s going on with Yellow-rumped Warbler with just 18 counted statewide?  This is a 30-year low total, and it’s in sharp contrast with the 442 seen a year ago. 


Sparrows:  Eastern Towhee (14!) is another semi-hardy species barely making a scratch in the landscape.  Towhees were counted at 20% of average numbers.  Among grassland birds, American Tree Sparrow (1,426) was at second lowest levels, trailing only last year’s paltry 1,079.  Trouble, trouble, trouble.  That begins with T, and it stands for Tree.  The same can be said for Field Sparrow (74), at a 30-year low.  Clay-colored Sparrow appeared for the 7th time with 1 at New Haven.  Vesper Sparrows were found at Stratford (1) and Westport (1) – good show!  Savannah Sparrows achieved average numbers, but where were the “Ipswich” Sparrows with just 1 at New Haven?  Once again, Seaside Sparrow was not to be found.  The last Le Conte’s Sparrow to appear on a CT CBC was one at Barkhamsted in 1987-88.  Hartford made a fabulous find with a Le Conte’s this year.  Fox Sparrows (79) have had elevated numbers for the past 15 years.  Several feeding stations set up along Ora Avenue in East Haven (New Haven CBC) brought in 10% of this statewide total.  Sparrows in short supply included Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrow.  Kudos to Pawling for its 1 Lincoln’s Sparrow and to New Haven for 2 found there.  White-crowned Sparrow (25) was at double last year’s number.  Dark-eyed Junco ranks in the top ten of the most abundant birds counted on each year’s CT CBC, and 13,276 tallied this year were nicely representative of this winter visitor.


Cardinals to Orioles:  Northern Cardinal (3,013) was in comparatively short supply.  Westport’s best rarity was a Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  New Haven produced a Blue Grosbeak, new to the 30-year list.  This was a remarkable find but is not unique to the CT CBC.  A Blue Grosbeak was found at New London in 1960-61 (“at feeder since Dec 21”), and one was “banded and released” at Greenwich-Stamford in 1961-62.  Of the flocking birds, Red-winged Blackbird (2,180) is highly variable from year to year and uncommon this year.  Common Grackle was in lowest supply in 24 years, and Brown-headed Cowbird (679) achieved a new low total.  Its average count is around 3,800 individuals.  New London recorded 26 Eastern Meadowlarks, and Trail Wood found a rare Yellow-headed Blackbird, just the fourth occurrence statewide in 30 years.  Rusty Blackbird is yet another species of great concern to conservationists, and the record high of 300 just 2 years ago is offset by a record low of 17 this year.  We’re all beholden to Stratford-Milford for their corner on the Boat-tailed Grackle market.  This year, 20 were sighted.  The absence of Baltimore Oriole on this year’s count represents a rare miss. 


Winter finches:  Pine Grosbeaks at Barkhamsted (1), Hartford (1), and Salmon River (1) are the first since the big incursion of 2007-08.  Purple Finch (33) drops to a 30-year low, in keeping with a recognized major decline on the Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas 2, completed just over a year ago.  Compare the number of House Finches in 1992-93 (18,333) with the number counted this year (1,992).  This species introduced from the west some years ago is in sharp decline.  Both Red Crossbills (14) and White-winged Crossbills (4) were on this year’s list.  Barkhamsted recorded 1 White-winged Xbill and added 5 Xbill sp..  New London had 3 White-winged Crossbills near the coast.  Incursion years for Common Redpoll have taken place in 1985-86, 1986-87, 1993-94, 1997-98, 1999-2000, and 2007-08.  This year’s total of 458 redpolls was very respectable.  Pine Siskins (223) were fairly plentiful, but American Goldfinches (2,389) were in short supply.  Evening Grosbeak (0) is all but gone, yet not forgotten.  House Sparrow (8,082) is another introduced species in near record low numbers.


Total Individuals (246,861)

Total Count Day species (166)

Total Count Week species (6)

Total Field Observers (649)

Total Feeder Watchers (70)

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