The 120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count has started. Our first count was covered in snow and fun. (But not many birds.)
Counting birds in the snow can be fun, and every year, I get to do just that when I attend a few of Wyoming's ~22 Christmas Bird Counts. My first count for 2019/2020 was the Casper Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Below are a few highlights, lowlights, and photos. We had 9 species, and 100 individuals, in our section of the count (the southeast corner).
As you can see above, the center of the Casper CBC is southwest of Casper. This point allows for a large variety of habitats in our circle. The southeast corner includes Casper Mountain (my route), the southwest corner includes Bessemer Bend, where a "count-first" Purple Finch was included! The northwest corner includes shortgrass prairie with ag-lands, greasewood, and sagebrush mixed into the area. The northeast corner includes much of Casper and the Platte River.
Highlights from the Christmas Bird Count
When it comes to birds, I am often in awe of unique and unusual behaviors. So, when a Brown Creeper chose to feed ~3 feet from my face, I was in awe. Unfortunately, I had yet to retrieve my camera from the "count-cruiser." The photos would have been spectacular, but instead, I simply enjoyed the moment.
The bird highlights were low, but I am always happy to see fellow bird-lovers out and about. The Casper birding community is tight-knit and welcoming!
Lowlights from the Christmas Bird Count
The finches on Casper Mountain were far and few. I am becoming growingly concerned that I may not see Evening Grosbeaks around Casper within 5 years. When I began this count, we would see flocks of 90+ Evening Grosbeaks on the count. This year, we had 3 of these winter jewels. Each year, the count has steadily decreased.
Other notable species that were lacking include the woodpeckers. We usually see 2-3 species of woodpecker, with a high abundance. However, we only counted 2 Hairy Woodpecker females and no other species. The lack of males and other species left me questioning what was occurring. Casper Mountain is becoming increasingly sterilized by recreation on, and the commercialization of, the land. As this occurs, I am unsure how species like woodpeckers will be able to respond.
Photos from the Christmas Bird Count
Christmas Bird Counts are always a blast, and I encourage you to join one! Many great birding stories are born from CBC's. For example, read about my first Christmas Bird Count at these links:
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