Saturday, December 14, 2013

What Makes The Tucson Valley CBC special?

It's only just now occurred to me to consult Brent Ortego's 113th CBC US National High Species Count Summary to see how Tucson Valley CBC fared compared to other counts last year. In my previous post, I was going only by numbers I could find by blindly searching the current year's results in their online system. We did much better than I originally thought.
Last year's two Chestnut-sided Warblers tied with the San Diego CBC. We don't have any staked out this year. Will one be discovered tomorrow?

Mad Island Marsh, Texas usually leads the nation with the highest number of national highs, and one or more of the Hawaii counts are also pretty high. But consider that several of the species for which Mad Island Marsh claims the national high are singletons of rarities (such as Eastern Kingbird, Brown-crested Flycatcher, and Tennessee Warbler last year). And of course, we can hardly compare Hawaii's scoop of so many tropical water birds and endemics with the mainland.

That leaves the Atascosa Highlands CBC as the most important CBC in the mainland US for species with uniquely high numbers (15 last year), and then Tucson Valley comes after Mad Island Marsh – we had national highs for 13 species (only one of which was a vagrant, which were the two Chestnut-sided Warblers).

Somehow I missed noticing or mentioning that our highs of 820 Gila Woodpeckers, 797 Verdins, and 19 Plumbeous Vireos were not only national highs last year but also a new all-time highs. Along with the amazing Vermilion Flycatcher and Cooper's Hawk totals, that means we broke five all-time high records, almost unheard of in these years.

Cooper's Hawk – 105
Gila Woodpecker – 820
Vermilion Flycatcher – 190
Plumbeous Vireo – 19
Cassin's Vireo – 4
Verdin – 797
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher – 115
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 2
Summer Tanager – 5
Black-chinned Sparrow – 34
Yellow-headed Blackbird – 13,600
Lesser Goldfinch – 1739
Lawrence's Goldfinch – 246
We're probably not going to get the national high for Lawrence's Goldfinch this year, but there are a few around.

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