With pleasant memories of last year, this year we returned to the real world of a Christmas Bird Count: colder temperatures, fewer individual birds, fewer species. The official temperature was a low of 3 and a high of 24 degrees. This has also been one of our snowiest years, with an average depth of 2 inches. Up in Section 16, Steve Brown was making post holes in snow 6 – 8 inches deep, and Dave Elwonger was thinking that snowshoes should be required in the future, on the trails in Cheyenne Mountain State Park.
The count differed from last year mainly in the lower number of individuals seen; that can easily be explained in the much lower count of waterfowl: almost 6,000 fewer than last year, 4,000 fewer Canada Geese, 1,000 fewer Mallards, and 500 fewer American Wigeons. However, again for the second year, we saw over 100 species (106) with a total of 17,262 individuals.
The following 22 species, based on the small number of individuals seen, have a big impact on the total species seen: Turkey Vulture (not seen since 1976 and 1977), Cackling Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Merlin, Lewis’s Woodpecker (last reported in 1987), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (last reported in 1993), Gray Jay (the 4th time it has been reported, most recently in 2004), Marsh Wren, American Dipper, Eastern Bluebird, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle), Black-headed Grosbeak (the 5th reporting of this species, most recently in 2001), Common Grackle, and Red Crossbill (seen in both North Cheyenne Canyon and Section 16). These are the less-frequently reported species that were seen again this year. The following more commonly-seen species on count day represented by a single individual were: Bald Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, Sora, Clark’s Nutcracker, Mountain Bluebird, and Lapland Longspur.
Eight additional species were seen in only one area: Eared Grebes and Ruddy Ducks at Big Johnson Reservoir, Canyon Wrens in Garden of the Gods, Wood Ducks in Palmer Park, Canvasbacks in Memorial Park’s Prospect Lake, Scaled Quail in the Colorado Springs airport/Peterson Field area, Golden-crowned Kinglets in Section 16, and Lesser Goldfinch (black-backed) in the area of Stratton Meadows.
Our count circle is currently divided into 14 major count areas, with five sub-areas, for a total of 19 areas. The last sub-area to be separated out is the Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Eight of these areas counted more than 1,000 individuals during count day:
|Patty Jewett||Sally Boeschen, Jan Faeh, Jennie McGuckian, Betty & Don Peterson||1,181 individual birds|
|Palmer Park||Rise Foster-Bruder, John Bruder, Ed Flannery, Randy McFee||1,252 individual birds|
|Stratton Meadows||Debbie Barnes, Judy Dugan, Rip Stanwood||1,353 individual birds|
|Memorial Park – Prospect Lake||Dave Romero, JoAnn Bader||2,294 individual birds|
|Mule Farm – Pinello Ranch||Bob Landgraf, Eldon Cornish, Barbara Landgraf, Jerry & Diana Unruh||1,234 individual birds|
|Big Johnson Reservoir – Fountain Valley School||Steve Vaughan, Kaye LaFreniere||1,329 individual birds|
|Garden of the Gods||Bret Tennis, Beverly Cellini, Donna Becker, Lenore Fleck, Mark Pleimann, Michele McMurray, Sue Thomas, Christine Nekle||1.021 individual birds|
|Pike View Restaurant – Monument Valley Park – Mesa Drainage||Kent Borges, Stephanie DiCenzo, Ben & Sally Sorensen||1,204 individual birds|
|Broadmoor – Lower Skyway||Gary Conover, Linda Hodges, Sally McGuill, P.J. Wenham, Michele Mukatis, Peg Hunter, Jane Hunter-Zook||Just under 1,000, with 963 individual birds|
Some of these areas are benefited by Feeder Counters. The following chart summarizes the collective contribution of 17 of these counters.
|Great Blue Heron||1||Steller’s Jay||7||Spotted Towhee||7|
|Canada Goose||36||Blue Jay||19||Tree Sparrow||1|
|Mallard||11||Scrub Jay||9||Song Sparrow||1|
|Sharp-shinned Hawk||4||Black-billed Magpie||20||Dark-eyed Junco||96|
|Red-tailed Hawk||2||American Crow||49||— Slate-colored||10|
|Rock Pigeon||57||Black-capped Chickadee||35||— Oregon||20|
• By Ben & Sally Sorensen