The Christmas Bird Count - get involved!
The Christmas Bird Count, now in its 113th year, needs your participation! You may either join an outdoor group count or count the birds that come to your own bird feeder. Begin by identifying which count you’ll participate in. If you’re counting at your home feeder, choose the count circle where you live (see map below).
This year, the Christmas Bird Count season is December 15 through January 5. Everyone can participate. The counts take place within "count circles," which focus on specific geographical areas. Each circle is led by a Count Compiler. Therefore, if you are a beginning birder, you will be able to join a group that includes at least one experienced birdwatcher. If you live within the Pittsburgh Count Circle (circle #6), scroll down for the contact names of count leaders for various municipalities within CIrcle #6.
In addition, if your home is within the boundaries of a count circle, then you can choose to stay home and simply report the birds that visit your feeder, or you can join a group of birdwatchers in the field. In either case, if you have never been on a CBC before, your first step is to locate and contact your local Count Compiler to find out how you can help.
In southwestern PA, there are 12 count circles (shown in the map below) and if you live within the 15-mile diameter count circle for any one of them, then you can join in this fun and valuable citizen science survey simply by counting the birds that come to your feeders on the appointed count day. Conducting a “feeder watch” for the CBC is easy and fun. Get your feeder watch packet and then great ready for the count! Contact Bob Mulvihill with any questions.
WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA CBC COUNT CIRCLES MAP:
Click on the links below the map to download a more detailed view of each bird count area - click on the map itself to enlarge.
(1) Butler | (2) Beaver | (3) South Butler | (4) Buffalo Creek Valley | (5) Imperial | (6) Pittsburgh | (7) Bushy Run | (8) Pittsburgh South Hills | (9) (Lower) Buffalo Creek | (10) Washington | (11) Clarksville | (12) Ryerson
PITTBURGH COUNT CIRCLE COUNT LEADERS (BY TOWNSHIP/MUNICIPALITY):
2011 Christmas Bird Count Results - Submitted by Brian Shema
(See results from 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, and 2001)
On December 31, 2011, 103 local birdwatchers set out to count all of the birds they could find within a 24 hour period on the 112th annual Christmas Bird Count.
This year’s count highlights revolve around the unusually mild temperatures throughout the fall and early winter months, and a number of remarkably rare birds contrasting with remarkably low number of some common birds.
The 73 species found on the count day shattered the 10-year average of 65 species. However, the warm weather throughout the season is likely the major contributing factor here. Of the five rare species requiring nine rare bird reports, some of the most unusual birds found during the count day include:
· A Rufous Hummingbird was included in the Pittsburgh area report. This bird has been visiting a Pittsburgh feeder and was recently banded for documentation purposes. Rufous Hummingbirds are becoming increasingly prevalent in Pennsylvania in fall and winter, but this was the first for the Pittsburgh CBC.
· A Chipping Sparrow is an unusual find for our count circle - the 1981 count produced 2 Chipping Sparrows. But the five (5) found on the 2011 count day is extremely rare. Chipping Sparrows were found in three of the twelve count areas.
· You have to go back to 1989 to find the previous record of Common Loon on the CBC. A single Loon was spotted in the Ohio/Kilbuck Township area during this year’s count.
· Decidedly the most unusual and surprising record was a Nashville Warbler found in Squaw Valley Park in O’Hara Township. Nashville Warblers are neo-tropical migrants; the bulk of the population migrated in September and October and is currently staying warm and well-fed in South America. This bird was found foraging in cattails 2,500 miles north of its relatives.
While the count’s total species number was given a boost with several rare bird records, the individual species numbers were surprisingly low for some relatively common birds.
· The 10-year average of American Robin is 821 birds. Only 168 were found on count day, only 20% the norm.
· 112 White-throated Sparrows is the second-fewest number ever found in the history of the Pittsburgh CBC. This is a northern species which overwinters in Pennsylvania, and numbers can be influenced by a mild season (more birds remain in the northern latitudes). However, the abundance of this species has been steadily decreasing on our count for thirty years.
· Mourning Dove numbers were also surprisingly low this year, 330 birds is only 50% our 10-year average.
· Even more surprising, only 65 Blue Jays were spotted this year. With a 10-year average of 440 birds, and a 2009 count of 581, this number could be a factor of fewer feeder watchers or an increased availability of natural food abundance.
On the plus side, a Bald Eagle was again reported in the count circle, as were two Horned Grebes, and higher than average Pileated Woodpeckers. And 73 species of birds is the highest number found on a Pittsburgh CBC since 1983. Hopefully mild temperatures were a factor in the low individual numbers of birds found this year.
My thanks to all area participants, and especially the area leaders for coordinating and compiling their respective counts.