Friday, December 11, 2015

Count Week Begins!

Today is the first day of Count Week – the three days before (and after) the Tucson Valley CBC. We'll be keeping track of any species seen on those days but missed on this coming Monday's CBC.

Here's a list of moderate rarities which are very missable. If we get all the rarities that we know are in the circle, if we find some surprises we didn't know about, if we don't miss any expected species, AND if we don't miss any of these moderately rare birds, we might get a new high count. If you find any of these in the next three days, please post to the AZ-NM list or eBird them.

Double-crested Cormorant
Snowy Egret
Black-necked Stilt
Long-billed Dowitcher
Barn Owl
Lewis's Woodpecker
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Cassin's Kingbird
Steller's Jay
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Eastern Bluebird
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Summer Tanager
White-throated Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark
Red Crossbill

Tucson Valley Ranks #2 in High Counts

Lazuli Bunting
Tucson Valley had the national high count of Lazuli Bunting in 2014 with ten individuals.

Just two weeks ago National Audubon officially released the results of last year's Christmas Bird Count on their website,

Of most interest to me was the article by Brent Ortego titled:

The 115th CBC Summary of Highest Counts of Individual Species for the United States

In it I found that Tucson Valley ranked second in the nation for the number of high counts – 17 species. It's worth noting that the #1 count, Matagorda County – Mad Island Marsh, Texas, for which Brent is compiler, is always a bit of an anomaly, something of a twilight zone for rarities and big numbers. They also have the national high count for species every year, last year with 234.

In my previous analysis, I didn't count on the fact that no other CBC would have more than 1 Bell's Vireo, Virginia's Warbler, and Lucy's Warbler, and we tied a few other counts for those high counts. I also didn't realize that 10 Lazuli Buntings would be the high count, but Patagonia (the usual leader) only had 2, and Ramsey Canyon (also sometimes the leader) didn't have a real CBC last year.

The Springfield, Illinois CBC was the dark horse that pushed us out of the annual high for Rock Pigeon – by only 5 individuals. And the San Diego reported six Summer Tanagers, two more than we did.

Here's the official list for our high counts in 2014:

Cooper's Hawk: 136
Mourning Dove: 5570
Broad-billed Hummingbird: 59
Gila Woodpecker: 787
Vermilion Flycatcher: 384
Bell's Vireo: 1
Plumbeous Vireo: 19
Cassin's Vireo: 12
Verdin: 877
Virginia's Warbler: 1
Lucy's Warbler: 1
Black-throated Gray Warbler: 29
Louisiana Waterthrush: 1
Lazuli Bunting: 10
Yellow-headed Blackbird: 19055
House Finch: 5667
Lesser Goldfinch: 2486