Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Bird Count

This past weekend, Westmoreland Sanctuary staff participated in the annual Stamford/Greenwich Summer Bird Count. For those who are not familiar, the summer bird count is conducted within a "count circle" centered near Stamford and Greenwich, CT. Westmoreland and many other local parks and nature sanctuaries fall just inside the NW edge of the count circle. In fact, a number of lower Westchester's parks and preserves land with the 15-mile radius extending from the center of the count area. Click this link to see a map of the count area.

The count is conducted by numerous volunteers from all over the area. People from all walks of life spend as much of their weekend traveling through their designated portions of the count circle searching for, identifying and counting as many species and individual birds as possible. It often leads to a lot of exercise, little sleep, and some exhaustion, but we all do it because its fun. And its all about the birds!

The Summer Bird Count is an important annual event that provides a snapshot of the species of birds that are living in, and presumably breeding in, our area each year. Year after year these snapshots provide invaluable data on the presence and status of breeding birds in our area. Every year this data becomes more important, as many of our once common bird species continue to decline in abundance all over the continent. This count is a very important way for researchers to learn about the location of breeding birds in our area.

Counting at Westmoreland began around 7am Saturday morning. Conditions were fair, but less than optimal during the day due to the clouds and on-and-off rain showers in the afternoon. Nevertheless, a total of 6.5 miles of trail was walked over a period of about 6 hours and 15 minutes. By the end of the afternoon, a total of 407 individual birds covering 46 species were accounted for on the sanctuary. This is by no means an absolute count of every bird or species on the sanctuary, but it still gives an important snapshot of the species and individuals present.

Species identified on June 13:

Turkey Vulture, Wild Turkey, Mourning Dove, Black-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Great-crested Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Tree Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, House Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Veery, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow Warbler, Pine Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Scarlet Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow.

Species in bold above were observed either on the nest or feeding fledglings, which are obvious signs of breeding.

For more information about common birds in decline, please visit this link to National Audubon's State of the Birds Report.

Please join us for one of our bird walks or hawkwatching programs coming up this summer and fall to see some of these species at the sanctuary. Check the calendar pages on Westmoreland's website for dates and times.

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

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