Christmas Bird Count Report

Audubon's 2021 Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is ending soon, and our chapter’s two CBCs for this year are complete. The Clay County East CBC occurred on December 18th, and the Jacksonville count was Saturday, December 26th.

Ruby throated Hummingbird Clay CBC 20211218 Steve RadunsClay County East compiler Steve Raduns reports that 26 volunteers participated in the December 18th count and recorded 104 different species for the day, including a rare (for this time of year) Northern Parula and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Other standout species observed during the Clay CBC were: King Rail, Virginia Rail, Sora, White-throated Sparrow and Grasshopper Sparrow. Unfortunately, he says, “There has been a significant amount of habitat loss to the Clay County East CBC circle since last year primarily from construction of the new highway that is passing through the county. There is also a lot of new home construction being built because of this new toll highway.” His team was also prevented from surveying a normally fantastic wading bird rookery site by a wild hog hunting party with many ATVs and hunting dogs converging on the property. Despite the loss of this key location, his team still managed to get 77 species for the day.

Lapland Longspur Jax CBC 20211226 by Cody LimberJacksonville CBC compiler Anne Turner tells us that more than 50 volunteers participated in the count this year, an impressive number considering it was held on the day after Christmas! 157 species were reported for the count, two more than last year, even though several species seen last year were missed this year. The star species of the day was a Lapland Longspur, a bird that breeds in the High Arctic and typically migrates to the central and far western US during non-breeding season. This bird was first spotted at Huguenot Memorial Park on December 10th by Doris and Pat Leary and was subsequently seen by multiple local birders until mid-December, when it seemed to disappear from the area. Luckily, it reappeared for the Christmas Bird Count and was spotted by Bill George’s team during their survey at Huguenot.

Other notable species seen during the Jacksonville CBC were: Western Tanager, Nelson’s, Saltmarsh, Seaside, and White-crowned Sparrows, Piping Plovers, Whimbrels, and 12 different species of ducks.

Both counts were blessed with incredible weather, which makes the long day (pre-dawn to dusk for many participants) so much more pleasant. Many thanks to everyone who volunteered their time and energy to participate in the 122nd Audubon Christmas Bird Count this year. CBC observations help Audubon scientists track bird populations over time, aid in the development of strategies to protect birds and their habitats, and help to identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. Check back with us in the fall of 2022 for information about next year’s count.