2014 Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count Report - December 27th, 2014
Like the previous year, Pittsburgh Christmas Bird Count (CBC) participants were treated to milder than normal temperatures. With a low temperature of around 35 degrees and a high of 55 degrees, there were no weather-relates obstacles to overcome. All areas lakes, rivers, and streams were completely void of ice.
This year, a total of 165 participants joined forces to tally the birds within the 15-mile diameter count circle. 115 participants enjoyed finding birds in the field, while 50 stayed home, counting the birds at their bird feeders. Field participants divided into 34 groups (average of 3.4 people per field party) and covered 78.25 miles by foot and 257.50 miles by vehicle.
Despite mild weather and a near-record number of participants, our final tallies would prove to be perfectly average. A total of 70 species were found for a total of 37,526 individual birds.
As always, American Crow was our most counted species. The annual winter roost in the east end continues to produce over 20,000 individuals.
The most notable trend that is depicted in the count is a continued upward swing of Northern Mockingbird. Just 20 years ago, Northern Mockingbirds were consistent, but found in only single digit numbers. However, since the 101st count (December, 2000) the species has exploded. This year, 127 individuals were tallied, a Pittsburgh CBC record!
Turkey Vulture is also exhibiting an interesting trend. While the species has been found singly 7 times in the past 30 years, recent high counts of 22 and 15 individuals clearly indicate an upswing in numbers.
Other notable species included:
· Ross’s Goose, an adult and a juvenile were found at Allegheny Cemetery, the first of the species to be recorded for this count;
· A single Red-winged Blackbird was found in Indiana Township, the first recorded in 16 years;
· Ring-necked Duck was found along the Allegheny River, this species has been detected only 7 times in the past 30 years;
· For the third time in as many years, a Rufous Hummingbird was found, this time at Phipps Conservatory in Oakland by one of our youngest participants;
· A Red-headed Woodpecker was found, a species that is only occasionally found in the circle;
· Fish Crow and Common Raven were both detected, the former, a species that will likely continue to increase in the region.
As with other recent counts, our totals seemed to mirror the 25-year averages. As we’ve said in the past, sometimes an average count is the best kind of count!
Our sincere thanks to all participants of the Christmas Bird Count and a special thanks to each of the area leaders. We hope you all enjoyed the experience and look forward to your participation next year!