An orange-crowned warbler eats at a feeder on Dec. 14, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Engle)

An orange-crowned warbler eats at a feeder on Dec. 14, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Engle)

Birders release final count, species list for Christmas tally

The 120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. Thirty-two local bird counters in the field and an additional seven feeder watchers who kept track of birds visiting their bird feeders tallied 13,780 birds of 80 species, a record number of species for the Homer count and beating last year’s record by nine species.

Six additional species were also documented during count week (three days before and after the actual count day). Numbers of feeder watchers were up from previous years and helped achieve the high numbers. A list of each species and number is below and on the Kachemak Bay Birders’ website at www.kachemakbaybirders.org.

Four species were new to the Homer count and count week: the sooty shearwater, canvasback, ring-necked duck, and orange-crowned warbler. The exceptionally warm fall is likely the key factor in delaying the migration of these species to more southern latitudes.

The most abundant bird species this year were the pine siskin (4,077), mallard (1,937) and rock sandpipers (1,420). A good spruce-cone crop this year is supporting large number of finches such as the pine siskin, white-winged crossbill and pine grosbeak, in comparison to recent years. Although a large flock of American robins has been common throughout Homer this fall, only 57 were tallied on this year’s count. It’s often easy to miss large flocks when trying to cover such a large area.

High mallard numbers reflected the lack of ice in Beluga Slough, Beluga Lake and Mud Bay before a hard freeze in January. These ducks typically winter on the south side of Kachemak Bay when the ice blocks access to feeding habitats along the north shore. Rock sandpipers, a winter resident of Kachemak Bay, were found in generally similar numbers as in previous years.

Over the last several years, there has been a downward trend in the numbers of four species of seaducks in the nearshore waters of the count area. These seaducks include the common eider, Steller’s eider, white-winged scoter, and surf scoter. Primary factors in this negative trend are unknown.

A big thanks to all the participants out counting or watching feeders, and to the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center staff for the use of their facilities and helping with logistics for our count. As the Kachemak Bay Birder’s motto goes, “It was a great day to bird.”

Dave Erikson is a longtime birder who coordinated the Christmas Bird Count and compiled the results.

2019 Homer Christmas Bird Count results:

Trumpeter swan 2

Mallard 1937

Northern pintail 2

American wigeon 81

Eurasian wigeon 2

Green-winged teal (count week)

Canvasback 1

Ring-necked duck CW

Greater scaup 294

Lesser scaup (count week observed)

Long-tailed duck 201

Surf scoter 23

White-winged scoter 21

Black scoter 729

Scoter species 1

Harlequin duck 17

Common goldeneye 92

Bufflehead 62

Common merganser 185

Red-breasted merganser 77

Merganser species 3

Ring-necked pheasant 28

Spruce grouse 2

Common loon 38

Yellow-billed loon 1

Pacific loon 11

Red-necked grebe 22

Horned grebe 38

Short-tailed shearwater 2

Sooty shearwater 5

Fork-tailed storm-petrel 1

Pelagic cormorant 75

Bald eagle mature 125

Bald eagle immature 18

Northern harrier 2

Sharp-shinned hawk (count week)

Northern goshawk 2

Rock sandpiper 1420

Dunlin 62

Black-legged kittiwake 411

Bonaparte’s gull 1

Mew gull 286

Herring gull 13

Glaucous-winged gull 147

Glaucous-winged and herring gull cross 6

Common murre 23

Pigeon guillemot 21

Marbled murrelet 27

Ancient murrelet 2

Alcid species or murrelet species 3

Rock pigeon 114

Great horned owl 3

Northern saw-whet owl (count week observed)

Anna’s hummingbird 1

Downy woodpecker 7

Hairy woodpecker 2

Merlin 1

Northern shrike 1

Steller’s jay 7

Gray jay 15

Black-billed magpie 58

Northwestern crow 791

Common raven 127

Black-capped chickadee 189

Boreal chickadee 45

Red-breasted nuthatch 64

Brown creeper 4

Pacific wren 9

American dipper 1

Golden-crowned kinglet 38

Ruby-crowned kinglet 17

American robin 56

Varied thrush 14

Townsend’s solitaire 3

European starling 17

Bohemian waxwing 529

Snow bunting 2

Savannah sparrow (count week observed)

Song sparrow 8

Lincoln’s sparrow (count week observed)

Dark-eyed (Oregon) junco 4

Dark-eyed (slate-colored) jJunco 34

White-crowned sparrow 6

Golden-crowned sparrow 20

White- throated sparrow 3

Rusty blackbird 12

Orange-crowned warbler 1

Common redpoll 36

Hoary redpoll 1

Pine siskin 4077

Small finch species 220

Gray-crowned rosy-finch 150

White-winged crossbill 182

Pine grosbeak 167

Count Day Species total 80

Additional for count week 6

Grand Total 13,558

Bold = New for Christmas count

A rusty blackbird was one of the birds counted on Dec. 14, 2019, for the annual Christmas Bird Count in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy by Tim Quinn)

A rusty blackbird was one of the birds counted on Dec. 14, 2019, for the annual Christmas Bird Count in Homer, Alaska. (Photo courtesy by Tim Quinn)

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