June 16th , 2013 16:30 pm Leave a comment

Summer Bird Count establishes new record with 121 species


Photo by Bryan Stevens A fledgling Eastern Phoebe photographed near the Watauga River.

Photo by Bryan Stevens A fledgling Eastern Phoebe photographed near the Watauga River.

The Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter conducted its 20th Carter County Summer Bird Count on Saturday, June 8. The count includes such areas as Watauga Lake, Holston Mountain, Roan Mountain, Wilbur Lake and the Watauga River.

A total of 19 observers in five different parties participated in the count. A total of 121 species were found, which established a new record.

The old record of 118 species dated back to 2008. Despite the record number of species, compiler Rick Knight noted that Great Horned Owl was a notable miss. Other birds not found included Bald Eagle and Black-billed Cuckoo.

I spent the day birding with Brookie and Jean Potter, mostly at Wilbur Lake, Stoney Creek and Holston Mountain. Our group found a total of 86 species.

The average number of species found over the previous 19 years was 112 species.

“Over the 20 year run of this count, 149 species have been found,” Knight said.

Of that number, 81 species occurred every year while 16 occurred in just one year.

Knight said that some unexpected finds this year included  Black-crowned Night-Heron and White-throated Sparrow.

The most numerous bird on the count was the European Starling with 389 individuals counted. Other common birds included American Robin (282), Barn Swallow (157), Canada Goose (137), Indigo Bunting (130) and American Crow (118) .

With 100 individuals counted, the Hooded Warbler was the most numerous of the 20 species of warblers found during the count. Other abundant warblers included Ovenbird (80) and Chestnut-sided Warbler (31).
There will be a long gap between counts now. The next count conducted by the chapter will be the Fall Bird Count, which is a regional census conduced in the five-county area of Northeast Tennessee in late September.

The total is listed below:
Canada Goose, 137; Wood Duck, 6; Mallard, 68; Northern Bobwhite, 1; Ruffed Grouse, 7; and Wild Turkey, 12.
Great Blue Heron, 14; Green Heron, 4; Black-crowned Night-Heron, 2; Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, 3.
Black Vulture, 6; Turkey Vulture, 51; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1; Cooper’s Hawk, 2; Red-shouldered Hawk, 1; Broad-winged Hawk, 9; Red-tailed Hawk, 9; and American Kestrel, 2.
Killdeer, 4; American Woodcock, 2; Rock Pigeon, 66; Eurasian Collared-Dove, 2; and Mourning Dove, 73.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 2; Eastern Screech-Owl, 5; Barred Owl, 1; Common Nighthawk, 1; Chuck-will’s-Widow, 2; and Eastern Whip-poor-will, 10.
Chimney Swift, 52; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 28; Belted Kingfisher, 14; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 17; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 2; Downy Woodpecker, 7; Hairy Woodpecker, 1; Northern Flicker, 14; and Pileated Woodpecker, 17.
Eastern Wood-Pewee, 19; Acadian Flycatcher, 30; Alder Flycatcher, 5; Willow Flycatcher, 1; Least Flycatcher, 2; Eastern Phoebe, 39; Great Crested Flycatcher, 5; and Eastern Kingbird, 12.
White-eyed Vireo, 4; Yellow-throated Vireo, 2; Blue-headed Vireo, 36; Red-eyed Vireo, 119; Blue Jay, 42; American Crow, 118; and Common Raven, 4.
Purple Martin, 22; Tree Swallow, 96; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 71; Cliff Swallow, 97; and Barn Swallow, 157.
Carolina Chickadee, 57; Tufted Titmouse, 44; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 8; White-breasted Nuthatch, 11; and Brown Creeper, 3.
Carolina Wren, 49; House Wren, 46; Winter Wren, 6; Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 21; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 12; Eastern Bluebird, 37; Veery, 26; Hermit Thrush, 2; Wood Thrush, 37; and American Robin, 282.
Gray Catbird, 25; Northern Mockingbird, 35; Brown Thrasher, 28; European Starling, 389; and Cedar Waxwing, 76.
Ovenbird, 80; Worm-eating Warbler, 6; Louisiana Waterthrush, 5; Golden-winged Warbler, 3; Black-and-white Warbler, 30; Kentucky Warbler, 1; Common Yellowthroat, 16; Hooded Warbler, 100; American Redstart, 6; Northern Parula, 6; Magnolia Warbler, 3; Blackburnian Warbler, 8; Yellow Warbler, 2; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 31; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 21; Pine Warbler, 2; Yellow-throated Warbler, 13; Black-throated Green Warbler, 28; Canada Warbler, 26; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 3.
Eastern Towhee, 93; Chipping Sparrow, 99; Field Sparrow, 37; Vesper Sparrow, 1; Song Sparrow, 138; White-throated Sparrow; 1; Dark-eyed Junco, 92.
Scarlet Tanager, 32; Northern Cardinal, 65; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 5; Blue Grosbeak, 4; and Indigo Bunting, 130.
Red-winged Blackbird,  80; Eastern Meadowlark, 17; Common Grackle, 30; Brown-headed Cowbird, 39; Orchard Oriole, 12; and Baltimore Oriole, 5.
House Finch, 28; Red Crossbill, 6; Pine Siskin, 2; American Goldfinch, 83; and House Sparrow, 31.


As a result of taking part in the Summer Bird Count, I added five new species to my year list. I will talk about those birds in next week’s column. Here’s a hint: the new birds consisted of four warblers and a dove.


I received an email recently from Judy and Bill Beckman. They reside on Spivey Mountain in Unicoi County.
“The masked marauders (a.k.a. Cedar Waxwings) have arrived in full force,” Judy wrote. “There appears to be two flocks of them. These gorgeous birds are a welcome sight in the garden and yard as they go after our bugs.”
Cedar Waxwings were a little late in returning this spring, but they returned seemingly overnight throughout the region when they did arrive.
“We just hope they decide to depart before the blackberries and plums ripen,” Judy added. “We saw them in action in a large sour cherry tree — stripped it clean in about 10 minutes. In past years they have been brief migrants. But this year they seem in no hurry to leave.”
That’s typical behavior for these nomadic birds. I saw a large flock at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park in Elizabethton recently. The birds were feasting on mulberries growing on a tree near the park’s butterfly garden.

Make a comment, ask a question or share an observation by calling me at 297-9077 or by sending an email to bstevens@starhq.com or ahoodedwarbler@aol.com. I am also on Facebook.


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