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1/11/2018 Audubon census-takers tally unusually low number of 37 species
The Annual Christmas Bird Count sponsored by the National Audubon Society and the Arkansas Valley Audubon Society was held on Saturday, December 30. Twenty-one committed birders came early to Willie’s in Silver Cliff to get their assignments for the day. Four teams combed the 7.5 mile radius circle with Westcliffe as the center, splitting the count area into four quadrants. Unfortunately, although the bright blue sky was welcome, the unrelenting winds, lack of snow cover and unseasonably warm temperatures made for a disappointing final tally. In the 30-plus years that this count has contributed data to the national CBC effort, there have been only four other years when the total was lower. The final count of 37 species was disappointing, but as we know, Mother Nature can be unpredictable. The leaders believe the wind was the biggest factor, as other counts held in southern Colorado over the 19 day period had much more successful final tallies. With many eyes and ears scanning for birds throughout the day, the birds surely would have been seen if they had only been there. Some of the species seen most years but not this one include Golden Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Red-breasted Nuthatch,Townsend’s Solitaire and Song Sparrow. A number of these misses are often only heard, not seen, so the fierce winds would certainly have prevented good ears from recording them. Nevertheless, it is always a satisfying day even if the results aren’t what the group had hoped for. Lovely views, bluebird skies, and in particular, the many friendly and helpful local residents all contribute to a fun day. Birds found on the Westcliffe CBC on 12-30-17: Canada Goose Mallard Common Merganser Great Blue Heron Bald Eagle Northern Harrier Red-tailed Hawk Rough-legged Hawk Rock Pigeon Eurasian Collared Dove Great Horned Owl Downy Woodpecker Hairy Woodpecker Stellar Jay Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay Pinyon Jay Clark’s Nutcracker Black-billed Magpie American Crow Common Raven Horned Lark Black-capped Chickadee Mountain Chickadee White-breasted Nuthatch Pygmy Nuthatch American Dipper European Starling American Tree Sparrow Dark-eyed Junco Red-winged Blackbird Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch Black Rosy-Finch Brown-capped Rosy-Finch Hepburn’s Rosy-Finch House Finch American Goldfinch House Sparrow Total species: 37 Participants in the event were Deb Rimmer, Kim Bolton, Sue Peiletier, Sue Smiley, Dave and Cecelia Dymecki, John Ferraiuolo, Steve and Margaret Linderer, all of Westcliffe; Leon and Treva Bright, Westcliffe and Pueblo; Steve Short, Westcliffe and Manhattan, Kan.; Jane Pedersen and Steve Somora, Hillside and Durango; Jim and Irene Thompson, La Junta; Lisa Edwards, Westcliffe and Colorado Springs; Dave Silverman, Gib and Madison Rokich, Rye; and Greg Anderson, Evanston, Ill.