Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Buffalo Christmas Bird Count: 29-Year History

The center of the oddly-named New Buffalo (Michigan) Christmas Bird Count (located at ) is actually much closer to the village of Three Oaks than it is to New Buffalo. But by virtue of the fact that the count center is located so far to the east of downtown New Buffalo, which sits on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, the count circle encompasses some of my old boy-hood haunts around the village of Galien. I’ll be covering some of those areas during the New Buffalo CBC this coming weekend. With that thought in mind, I was driven to prepare this historical sketch of the first 29 years of the count.

During the 29-year history of the New Buffalo CBC, some 272,504 individuals of 142 species have been tallied.

Frequency of Occurrence/Yearly Regularity
Twenty-five species (18 percent) were recorded in each of the 29 years, forty-one (29 percent) in 25 or more years, sixty-six (46 percent) in 15 or more years (i.e., on more than half of all counts), forty-three (30 percent) in fewer than 10 years, and seventeen (12 percent) in just one year.

The Top Ten Species: The following species are ranked in decreasing order of abundance based on a combination of three criteria: (a) total number recorded; (b) mean count when detected, and (c) median count when detected. The values for each of these criteria are presented as percentages relative to the highest-ranking species in each category (European Starling;i.e., the median count for Northern Cardinal was 27.3 percent that of the starling). Ranks (overall and for individual critera) are in curly brackets. Each of the species listed below ranked in the top 10 in at least one of the three abundance criteria:
  • European Starling {1}: (a) 100{1} [n=35,778] – (b) 100{1} [Mean=1,234] – (c) 100{1} [Median=951]
  • Herring Gull {2.7): (a) 76.8{2) – (b) 76.7{2} – (c) 49.7{4}
  • House Sparrow {2.7}: (a) 75.6{3} – (b) 75.5{3} – (c) 74.0{2}
  • Dark-eyed Junco {3.7}: (a) 56.4{4} – (b) 56.6{4} – (c) 58.4{3}
  • Ring-billed Gull {5}: (a) 45.9{5} – (b) 52.2{5} – (c) 43.7{5}
  • American Tree Sparrow {6.7}: (a) 32.9{6} – (b) 32.9{7} – (c) 34.9{7}
  • American Crow {7}: (a) 29.4{7} – (b) 29.4{8} – (c) 37.2{6}
  • Mourning Dove {9}: (a) 25.5{8} – (b) 25.5{10} – (c) 26.1{9}
  • Northern Cardinal {10}: (a) 21.1{10} – (b) 21.1{12} – (c) 27.3{8}
  • House Finch {10}: (a) 20.5{11} – (b) 27.1{9} – (c) 25.8{10}
  • The 10 species enumerated above accounted for 65 percent of individuals recorded on the New Buffalo CBC. Three of the 10 most abundant species (European Starling, House Finch, House Sparrow) are introduced; collectively, these three species alone account for 26 percent of the total individuals.

    29-year Summary:

    The status of each species recorded during the 45-year history of the Niles CBC is summarized using the following conventions: Species Name—Number of years recorded (remarks, where appropriate): Median count (High count in Year(s)). Example: Great Blue Heron—26: 4 (15 in ‘98). Names of species recorded fewer than 10 times are italicized. Names of species recorded on more than half of the counts are boldfaced. Names of species ranked in the top 10 in terms of abundance are boldfaced and underlined. For species recorded 10 or more times, high counts that exceed the median by a factor of 10 or more are underlined. Asterisks (*) denote high counts that occurred in three or more years. Years are denoted as follows: ’70 is 1970, ’05 is 2005, etc.
    Snow Goose—3: 1 (1*), Canada Goose—22: 165.5 (615 in ’01) {includes “Blue” form—1: 1 (in ‘87)}, Mute Swan [I]—5 (first in ’86): 2 (16 in ’04), Tundra Swan—2: 24 (46 in ’94), swan sp.—1: 6 (in ’98), Wood Duck—7: 1 (3 in ’00), Gadwall—8: 3.5 (18 in ’01), American Wigeon—5: 1 (2 in ’93 & ’94), American Black Duck—23: 8 (46 in ’86), Mallard—29: 168 (738 in ’06), Northern Shoveler—4: 1 (12 in ’97), Northern Pintail—3: 2 (3 in ’03), Green-winged Teal—3: 1 (7 in ’96).

    Canvasback—5: 6 (8 in ’96), Redhead—11: 2 (24 in ’99), Ring-necked Duck—5: 2 (4 in ’01), Greater Scaup—20: 8.5 (272 in ’93), Lesser Scaup—17: 9 (133 in ’99), scaup sp.—16: 5 (3,000 in ’98), King Eider—1: 1 (in ’98), Harlequin Duck—1: 1 (in ’93), Surf Scoter—7: 2 (36 in ’98), White-winged Scoter—14: 2.5 (60 in ’69), Black Scoter—8: 4 (23 in ’98), Long-tailed Duck—10: 2 (21 in ’73), Bufflehead—28: 76 (253 in ’94), Common Goldeneye—29: 95 (663 in ’93), Barrow’s Goldeneye—1: 1 (in ’97), Hooded Merganser—15: 2 (8 in ’98), Common Merganser—22: 15.5 (59 in ’95), Red-breasted Merganser—26: 18.5 (1,190 in ’07), Ruddy Duck—2: 1 (in ’75 & ’87), duck sp—4: 30 (500 in ’04).

    Ring-necked Pheasant [I]—26: 5.5 (101 in ’73), Ruffed Grouse—4 (last in ’87): 2 (9 in ’71), Wild Turkey—6 (first in ’00): 1 (15 in ’02), Northern Bobwhite—5 (last in ’74): 19 (61 in ’73).

    Red-throated Loon—6: 3 (15 in ’06), Common Loon—14: 3 (25 in ’94), loon sp.—3: 1 (1*), Pied-billed Grebe—11: 1 (15 in ’71), Horned Grebe—12: 2.5 (12 in ’06), Eared Grebe—1: 1 (in ’02), Aechmophorus sp.—1: 1 (in ’06), Double-crested Cormorant—2: 1 (1 in ’90 & ’92), Great Blue Heron—16: 2 (8 in ’87).

    Turkey Vulture—2: 1 (1 in ’89 & ’92), Bald Eagle—3: 1 (1*), Northern Harrier—24: 4 (23 in ’94), Sharp-shinned Hawk—21: 2 (4*), Cooper’s Hawk—29: 3 (9*), Northern Goshawk—4: 1 (1*), Accipiter sp—7: 1 (3 in ’95), Red-shouldered Hawk—17: 2 (6 in ’98), Red-tailed Hawk—29: 26 (47 in ’94), Rough-legged Hawk—29: 7 (29 in ’94), Buteo sp.—6: 1 (1*), hawk sp.—3: 1 (2 in ’94), American Kestrel—29: 16 (37 in ’91), Merlin—3: 1 (1*).

    Virginia Rail—1: 1 (in ’75), American Coot—12: 3.5 (220 in ’71), Killdeer—9: 2 (12 in 87), Pectoral Sandpiper—1: 1 (in ’87), Purple Sandpiper—3: 1 (1*), Wilson’s Snipe—3: 1 (2 in ’72), Dunlin—1: 2 (in ’74), Red Phalarope—1: 3 (in ’87).

    Bonaparte’s Gull—9: 3 (29 in ’03), Ring-billed Gull—28: 415.5 (2,739 in ’03), California Gull—1: 1 (in ’04), Herring Gull—29: 473 (6,185 in ’04), Thayer’s Gull—8: 1 (5 in ’04), Iceland Gull—4: 1 (1*), Lesser Black-backed Gull—10: 1 (3 in ’99 & ’04), Glaucous Gull—12: 1 (5 in ’04), Great Black-backed Gull—9: 1 (4 in ’01), Black-legged Kittiwake—3: 1 (1*), gull sp—18: 63 (2,225 in ’04), jaeger sp—1: 1 (in ’00).

    Rock Pigeon [I]—25 (first tallied on CBCs in ’73): 167 (298 in ’92), Mourning Dove—29: 248 (1,506 in ’74), Eastern Screech-Owl—28: 4.5 (23 in ’89), Great Horned Owl—26: 2 (12 in ’71), Snowy Owl—4: 1 (1*), Barred Owl—25: 2 (6 in ’96), Long-eared Owl—4: 1 (3 in ’71), Short-eared owl—12: 1 (3 in ’87), Northern Saw-whet Owl—2: 1 (1 in ’89 & ’91), owl sp.—3: 1 (2 in ’97).

    Belted Kingfisher—20: 2 (10 in ’71), Red-headed Woodpecker—26: 7 (120 in ’71), Red-bellied Woodpecker—29: 46 (84 in ’94), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker—11: 1 (3 in ’71), Downy Woodpecker—29: 81 (129 in ’97), Hairy Woodpecker—29: 16 (29 in ’71), Northern Flicker—29: 14 (52 in ’69), Pileated Woodpecker—17: 3 (6 in ‘107), Eastern Phoebe—1: 1 (in ’74).

    Northern Shrike—2: 1 (4 in ’95), Blue Jay—29: 206 (480 in ’71), American Crow—29: 354 (863 in ’97), Horned Lark—28: 48.5 (676 in ’75), Black-capped Chickadee—29: 161 (372 in ’93), Tufted Titmouse—29: 115 (212 in ’97), Red-breasted Nuthatch—28: 14 (52 in ’95), White-breasted Nuthatch—29: 90 (169 in ’94), Brown Creeper—29: 5 (20 in ’87).

    Carolina Wren—26: 4.5 (14 in 03), Winter Wren—17: 2 (10 in ’71), Golden-crowned Kinglet—22: 2 (15 in ’73), Ruby-crowned Kinglet—4: 1 (1*), Eastern Bluebird—26: 26.5 (82 in ’05), Hermit Thrush—5: 1 (1*), American Robin—24: 4.5 (765 in ’98), Gray Catbird—1: 1 (in ’69), Northern Mockingbird—7: 1 (2 in ’70), Brown Thrasher—2: 1 (1 in ’69 & ’71).

    European Starling [I]—29: 951 (3,697 in ’73), American Pipit—1: 1 (in ’04), Bohemian Waxwing—1: 14 (in ’95), Cedar Waxwing—23: 35 (207 in ’98), Yellow-rumped Warbler—15: 2 (20 in ’69), Common Yellowthroat—2: 1 (1 in ’75 & 87).

    Eastern Towhee—6: 1 (3 in ’88), American Tree Sparrow—29: 332 (1,600 in ’71), Chipping Sparrow—1: 1 (in ’80), Field Sparrow—9: 6 (12 in ’71), Fox Sparrow—5: 2 (12 in ’88), Song Sparrow—29: 34 (91 in ’73), Swamp Sparrow—18: 2.5 (17 in ’75), White-throated Sparrow—17: 3 (12 in ’88), White-crowned Sparrow—27: 8 (53 in ’94), sparrow sp—5: 11 (21 in 01), Dark-eyed Junco—29: 555 (1,902 in ’75) {includes “Oregon” Junco—2: 1.5 (2 in ’71) and “Slate-colored” Junco—29: 555 (1,902 in ’75)}, Lapland Longspur—16: 16.5 (4,141 in ’73), Snow Bunting—26: 69.5 (902 in ’07).

    Northern Cardinal—29: 260 (418 in ’00), Red-winged Blackbird—22: 6 (235 in ’01), Eastern Meadowlark—9: 3 (20 in ’70), Rusty Blackbird—2: 2 (3 in ’74), Common Grackle—11: 3 (26 in ’07), Brown-headed Cowbird—15: 5 (224 in ’01), blackbird sp.—2: 1.5 (2 in ‘o4), Baltimore Oriole—1: 1 (in ‘03).

    Pine Grosbeak—2: 4.5 (6 in ’87), Purple Finch—26: 16 (56 in ’69), House Finch [I]—22 (first in '86): 245.5 (879 in ’95), Red Crossbill—1: 22 (in ’72), crossbill sp.—1: 12 (in ’07), Common Redpoll—16: 8.5 (400 in ’69), Hoary Redpoll—1: 1 (in ’07), Pine Siskin—23: 15 (90 in ’90), American Goldfinch—29: 188 (552 in ’86), Evening Grosbeak—13: 5 (64 in ’72), House Sparrow [I]—29: 704 (2,709 in ’74).

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