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Bird Count numbers lower

For 56 dedicated birders, Dec. 19 was a day of fierce wind and few birds.

Bird Count organizer Bob Merrick said considering the weather the results of the count are respectable.

Birders logged a total of 20,041 individual birds of 116 different species. Merrick that while that is about 6,000 below average for the count, the number of species is above the count average of 111 species.

Merrick says weather conditions probably accounted for the below average number of birds while the number of species located was due to the diligence of the 56 birders.

Highlights of the count on Whidbey were a sighting of a Clark’s grebe (the second in 15 bird counts) and two firsts: a sighting of a black swift and an American water pipit. Merrick says counts of seabirds were down, again probably due to high winds and rough seas. Some numbers of “puddle duck” species were “way down” also due to the weather. Were any numbers up? Those of bald eagles were. So were numbers of small forest birds including chickadees, nuthatches, kinglets, winter wrens and brown creepers. Merrick attributes the rise in these numbers to high winds forcing these tiny birds down from treetops.

All data from this year’s count will be submitted to National Audubon Society. Count data from three Important Bird Areas in the count circle, Crescent Harbor, Penn Cove and Crockett Lake, will be provided to the Washington Audubon Society office, which will be using CBC data as part of the monitoring program for IBA’s in Washington.

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