|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:
Great Blue Heron
Eurasian Collared Dove
Great Horned Owl
American Tree 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.