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Local counters catalog 1,780 area birds

Posted: Tuesday, Jan 8th, 2013

Area Christmas Bird Counters included Tim Gorman, Mary Klein, Thom Klein, Bob Griffin, Alice Griffin, Alan Griffin, Mary Clough, Booker Day, Cyndi Day and Deagan Day. Not pictured are Patti Gorman, Bill Fenimore, Bill Fenimore Jr. and Todd Black. Courtesy photo

EVANSTON — On Dec. 15, 2012, 14 field participants braved cold and snow to spend part, or all of, a winter day observing birds. One individual provided a feeder watch. A total of 36 different species — and 1,780 birds — were recorded on count day.

One additional species was found during the count week. Eurasian-collared dove sightings continue to increase. Noticeably absent were woodpeckers, goldfinches, waxwings and Ferruginous hawks. It was a bad year for “road birds” like horned lark, snow bunting and Lapland longspur.

American crows continue to spend the winter in the vicinity of the Evanston city dump, and nine were sighted on this count. Magpies seemed to be everywhere. Overall, small perching birds were hard to find, probably due to a lack of food during this drought year. The number of active bird feeders within the count circle is declining, as well.

A new species for the Evanston circle is the chipping sparrow, typically not a winter bird around Evanston. Nine of them were reported.

An incredible 291 common redpolls were seen, smashing the old Evanston circle record for the species. There has been an amazing irruption of common redpolls this winter in southwest Wyoming. This is only the fourth time in the 32 years of the Evanston Christmas Bird Count that redpolls have been recorded. Many of the redpolls were observed foraging on Russian thistle in the fencerows.

A total of 258 greater sage grouse were found, 106 in one flock alone. The tally was well below the 10-year average of 315, however. All of the sage grouse were found on the Utah side of the count circle. The Evanston count holds the all-time tally for greater sage grouse — 698 on the 86th Christmas Bird Count. Many times, sage grouse are the count’s most numerous specie.

The Evanston Christmas Bird Count has been held since 1981, and the 15-mile diameter circle is split down the middle by the Wyoming-Utah state line. The event would not be successful without the cooperation of private landowners, the biologist and staff at the Deseret Land & Livestock Ranch, and other ranchers within the count circle.

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