Tucson Valley is a very special CBC for the large number of birds that call this place home all year. In Brent Ortego’s summary for last year’s CBC, Tucson ranked 4th in the continental United States for the number of species for which it had the high count, tied with the Clewiston, Florida CBC (home to large numbers of mostly wintering birds). The three CBCs with more species highs were Matagorda County Mad Island Marsh, TX; Atascosa Highlands, AZ; and Santa Barbara, CA.
Seven of the ten species for which we had the high counts last year are residents here with unusually large populations, some of which have grown tremendously in the past five years. Here they are, with some comments.
Cooper’s Hawk – 99
As recently as 25 years ago only 6 were found.
Rock Pigeon 5375
Ho hum. We’ve had a lot more in the past, but no obvious trend here.
Broad-billed Hummingbird 35
An amazing explosion in our resident population.
Gila Woodpecker 496
This is actually a lot fewer than last year.
Vermilion Flycatcher 267
This is mind boggling. I presume our resident population somehow went over a tipping point, but no one really knows why we suddenly have so many. I'm not complaining.
Not as many as the year before, but we kind of have the corner on the Verdin market, as long as we have lots of participants. The Salt-Verde River CBC usually has a lot of these as well and in the past has held the national high count.
House Finch 2583
This was a surprise, especially since it’s the 6th lowest number per party-hour we’ve ever had. It seems that top honors go to a different CBC each year, almost always in California (though frequently Stockton), and often with numbers over 4000. I think it’s clear that the severe drought there has had an effect.
Finally, we had three highs for birds just visiting here in the winter.
Greater Pewee 1
This is a rarity anywhere in the US in winter, and we’ve had it a few times in the past.
Plumbeous Vireo 7
This is a far cry from the previous year’s all time record of 19, but this is still one of the best places to find this scarce winter bird.
Louisiana Waterthrush 1
Our neighboring CBC, Santa Catalina Mountains also had one, so we each tied for the high count last year. Southeastern Arizona just gets a very few stragglers of this species at the very northern edge of its winter range in the mountains of Middle America.