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 Jackson Audubon Society

 The Audubon Society of Jackson County, Michigan

2023 CBC by Don Henise

Saturday, December 23, 2023 11:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

 The 55th annual Waterloo State Rec Area Christmas Bird Count took place on December 16th, 2023. We had 35 participants out in the field and 3 feeder watchers, and ended up with both a record species count and a record individual bird count. The weather for the day was seasonally mild with a low temperature of 39 early in the morning and a high of 47 in the afternoon. Winds were light from the southwest and cloud cover was heavy with a few blue portals in the early morning hours.

    The old species record was 72 from 2001. This year our teams counted 81 species. That's 9 more than our previous high count, so that's quite incredible. Two of those 81 species were recorded on the Waterloo Count for the first time: Ross's Goose - two were found in a corn stubble field on Mt. Hope Road near the Grass Lake water tower by Ross Green and Mike Bowen; and a male Baltimore Oriole, reported by Lathe Claflin and Bill and Charity Steere, that had been coming to a private feeder in Waterloo Township for close to a month leading up to the count.

(Bill&Charity Steere)

    Other rare sightings for the CBC (seen on less than 10 counts) were 1 Snow Goose (2), 4 Gadwall (5), 4 Red-breasted Mergansers (4), 13 Bonaparte's Gulls (7), 1 Golden Eagle (7), 3 Short-eared Owls (9),  1 Merlin (7), and 2 Red Crossbills (2). The number in parenthesis is the number of counts on which the species has been reported out of 55.

(both: Mike Bowen)

Birds seen on 10 to 20 counts included 8 Trumpeter Swan (11), 3 Wood Duck (12), 4 Ring-necked Ducks (12), 30 Bufflehead (15), 2 Common Goldeneye (16), 197 Hooded Mergansers (12), 14 Common Mergansers (10), 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet (11), 1 Winter Wren (14), 2 Field Sparrows (15), 22 Rusty Blackbirds (17) and 2 Common Redpolls (18).  Some other birds of note were 33 American Black Ducks (24), 10 Bald Eagles (21), 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker(21), and 3 Hermit Thrushes (23).  

    The Rusty Blackbirds were part of a mixed group of blackbirds, found along Dalton Road by Joyce Peterson and team, which also included 20 Red-winged Blackbirds, 20 Common Grackles and 30 Brown-headed Cowbirds. The mild temperatures gave us a lot of open water which contributed to our high species count. In addition to the unusual geese mentioned above, 10 species of ducks were found on count day - Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and all 3 species of Merganser - Hooded, Red-breasted and Common.

(Great Horned Owl:  Mike Bowen)

    With the mild weather, most passerines were reported in only average numbers, but we still managed a record count of 13,731 individual birds (The old record was 12,331 in 2020).  The non-passerine species with record high numbers were: 4 Gadwall (tied), 33 American Black Duck, 197 Hooded Merganser and 4 Red-shouldered Hawks. The only passerine with a record high count was Carolina Wren with 24 counted. Other high counts, but not records, were Canada Geese - 2312, Great Blue Heron - 10, Bald Eagle - 10, and European Starling - 2625. Sandhill Cranes numbers have remained high in the area into December with 3507 counted, but still well short of the 2020's record of 5508.

(Red-shouldered hawk:  Gary Mason)

    One low count that should be noted is that only 2 Wild Turkeys were found in the count circle on count day. This is quite unusual given the number of turkeys that are seen in the Waterloo area throughout the year.  Horned Lark was the one big miss for the count with none found this year. That species has been recorded on 45 of the 55 counts. I only have one additional species to add as a count week bird - Pine Siskin. Count Week birds are species not seen or heard during the count, but are found on either the 3 days before or after the count day. Statistically they really don't mean anything for the historical count data, but a fun way to record birds found while scouting that were missed on count day or found after the count was completed.

    A big thank you to all of the area leaders and all those who participated to help make this a successful Christmas Bird Count. The date for the 56th Waterloo CBC will be Saturday, December 14th, 2024. We are planning to reinstate the post count dinner and tabulation meeting next year so stay tuned to the Jackson Audubon events page for details.

CBC Compiler,

Don Henise

Full Species List:

Species                                             Total

Snow Goose                                      1

Ross's Goose                                     2

Canada Goose                                   2312

Mute Swan                                         57

Trumpeter Swan                                 8

Wood Duck                                        3

Gadwall                                             4

American Black Duck                          33

Mallard                                              239

Ring-necked Duck                              4

Bufflehead                                          30

Common Goldeneye                           2

Hooded Merganser                             197

Common Merganser                           14

Red-breasted Merganser                    4

duck sp.                                             5

Ring-necked Pheasant                        1

Wild Turkey                                       2

Great Blue Heron                                10

Golden Eagle                                     1

Northern Harrier                                 3

Sharp-shinned Hawk                          1

Cooper's Hawk                                   3

accipiter species                                1

Bald Eagle                                         10

Red-shouldered Hawk                        4

Red-tailed Hawk                                 75

Rough-legged Hawk                           3

Sandhill Crane                                    3507

Bonaparte's Gull                                 4

Ring-billed Gull                                   320

Herring Gull                                        15

gull sp.                                               4

Rock Pigeon                                      194

Mourning Dove                                   625

Eastern Screech-Owl                          6

Great Horned Owl                              7

Barred Owl                                         3

Short-eared Owl                                 3

Belted Kingfisher                                4

Red-headed Woodpecker                   7

Red-bellied Woodpecker                     69

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker                    1

Downy Woodpecker                           76

Hairy Woodpecker                              27

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker        31

Pileated Woodpecker                          12

American Kestrel                                6

Merlin                                                1

Northern Shrike                                  1

Blue Jay                                            301

American Crow                                   335

Black-capped Chickadee                    293

Tufted Titmouse                                 115

Red-breasted Nuthatch                       5

White-breasted Nuthatch                    129

Brown Creeper                                   8

Winter Wren                                       1

Carolina Wren                                    24

Golden-crowned Kinglet                      7

Ruby-crowned Kinglet                         1

Eastern Bluebird                                 144

Hermit Thrush                                    3

American Robin                                  309

European Starling                              2543

Cedar Waxwing                                  109

American Tree Sparrow                      245

Field Sparrow                                     2

Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco         402

White-throated Sparrow                      4

Song Sparrow                                    9

Swamp Sparrow                                 10

Northern Cardinal                               117

Red-winged Blackbird                         22

Rusty Blackbird                                  22

Common Grackle                               20

Brown-headed Cowbird                       30

Baltimore Oriole                                 1

House Finch                                       91

Purple Finch                                       19

Red Crossbill                                     1

Common Redpoll                                2

Pine Siskin                                         cw

American Goldfinch                            120

House Sparrow                                  335

Number  of species                            81

Number of individuals                         13731

cw – count week bird not seen on count day

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