2005 Christmas Bird Count RESULTS


This year's count was our 77th since 1908. We haven't missed a year since
1952. We were grateful for decent weather on count day, as the day before was
misearble and the day after hit-or-miss. We fanned out in 45 parties to cover
the 14 major territories within the 15 mile diameter circle centered at Pioneer
Square. This year a record number of observers participated, 194.

One measure of a count's success is the raw number of species observed. By that
standard our count total of 124 was above our long term average of 120. An
additional 6 species were seen during countweek, but which eluded us on count
day. The total of individual birds counted, 63,508, was nearly identical to
last year's total. This is 17% above the 10-year average and 41% above the
30-year par.

Of course, the total of individuals is heavily leveraged by counts of a handful
of abundant species, such as:

  • crows (12,281)
  • coots (7,481)
  • starlings (4,468)
  • robins (3,538)
  • Rock Pigeons (3,244)
  • Western Grebes (2,267)
  • Glaucous-winged Gulls (2,184, of a grand total gull count of 4,532)
  • Bushtits (1,698)
  • Black-capped Chickadee (1,571)
  • American Wigeons (1,552, of a grand total duck count of 9,228)

Last year's top ten was nearly identical, with the
notable exception of the Pine Siskin (#7 last year), which this year set a new
record low count of just 21. Western Grebes moved up from 9th to 6th, an
encouraging sign for this threatened species. These top-ten species account for
63.4% of all individual birds counted.

The crow count is primarily from our best estimate of numbers at two large
winter roosts. Traditionally, the roost on Foster Island has been the largest,
last year tallying nearly 11,000 birds. However, this year the Foster Island
roost seems to be considerably smaller, with just 3,000 counted at dawn.
Meanwhile, the roost at Newport Shores has grown dramatically. Tom Weir
commented that the 6,000 crows they counted leaving that roost could just as
well have been 12,000! They were unable to keep up with the flood of birds
leaving the roost for their daily rounds.

At the other end of the spectrum are 14 species represented on the count by
just one or two individuals: Green Heron, Greater White-fronted Goose,
Ring-necked Pheasant, California Quail, Virginia Rail, Rock Sandpiper, Cassin's
Auklet, Barn and Barred Owls, Barn Swallow, Savannah, Swamp, and White-throated
Sparrows, and a Brown-headed Cowbird. Some of these are regular winter
residents with small and/or elusive local populations, such as the heron,
goose, rail, owls, and sparrows. A few are irregular visitors recorded just a
few times on the Seattle count, such as the Cassin's Auklet, likely driven
inshore by the preceding week of storms, which also produced countweek
sightings of Short-tailed Shearwater and Red Phalarope. Note that the addition
of just a handful of such stragglers could sharply elevate the species count.
The pheasant (Montlake Fill) and quail (Discovery Park) seem on the verge of
vanishing altogether as their habitat is progressively reduced (and in the
absence of continuing releases). The Barn Swallow (at Magnuson Park), on the
other hand, is perhaps a harbinger of global warming, as Barn Swallows have
become rare but regular in winter in western Washington since just a few years

This year's count was notable in that 24 species set new all-time highs. This
is no doubt in part due to the record number of observers and the decent
weather. Most of the record-setters were woodland species highly dependent on
observer density. However, some totals may reflect real population trends. Of
particular note are:

  • Brandt's Cormorants (279 v. last year's record setting 244; 12x the 30-year average)
  • Canvasbacks and Ring-necked Ducks (700 and 707 v. previous highs of 620 and
  • Bald Eagles (66 v . last year's record of 53)
  • An astounding total of 248 Anna's Hummingbirds (v. last year's record count of 173 and 7x the 30-year
  • The Pine Siskin was the only species to set a record low count (21 v. 1117 for
    the 30-year average).
  • The scarcity of siskins this winter has been widely noted.
  • A few other species showed significant declines: Black Scoters at 31% of
    the 30-year average; White-winged Scoters at 50%; Ruddy Ducks at just 8%,
    Rhinoceros Auklets at 19%, and Purple Finches at 18%.

Thanks to the Seattle Audubon office staff and volunteers who coordinated all our efforts and made sure we were warm and well fed at the close of the day.

Eugene Hunn

[755 words to here]

SEATTLE CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT RESULTS 2005 [* = new high count; cw = countweek
only; boldface = of special note]: Greater White-fronted Goose 1; *Brant 272;
Canada Goose 608; Cackling Goose 4; swan sp. 3; Wood Duck 37; Gadwall 761;
Eurasian Wigeon 8; American Wigeon 1552; Mallard 1159; Northern Shoveler 74;
Northern Pintail 124; Green-winged Teal 73; *Canvasback 700; Redhead 4;
*Ring-necked Duck 707; Greater Scaup 1022; Lesser Scaup 473; scaup sp. 13;
Harlequin Duck 59; Surf Scoter 325; White-winged Scoter 40; Black Scoter 39;
Bufflehead 828; Common Goldeneye 351; Barrow's Goldeneye 220; goldeneye sp. 1;
Hooded Merganser 70; Common Merganser 268; Red-breasted Merganser 285; Ruddy
Duck 35; Ring-necked Pheasant 1; California Quail 2; Red-throated Loon 30;
Pacific Loon 35; Common Loon 21; loon sp. 9; *Pied-billed Grebe 186; Horned
Grebe 276; Red-necked Grebe 156; Eared Grebe 4; Western Grebe 2267;
Short-tailed Shearwater cw; *Brandt's Cormorant 279; Double-crested Cormorant
895; Pelagic Cormorant 50; Great Blue Heron 76; Green Heron 1; *Bald Eagle
(all) 66; Bald Eagle (adult) [50]; Bald Eagle (immature) [13]; Bald Eagle
[unaged] [3]; Sharp-shinned Hawk 28; Cooper's Hawk 25; Red-tailed Hawk 37;
Merlin 14; Peregrine Falcon 8; Virginia Rail 2; American Coot 7481;
Black-bellied Plover cw; Killdeer 53; Spotted Sandpiper 5; Black Turnstone 106;
Surfbird 57; Sanderling 81; Rock Sandpiper 2; Dunlin 88; dowitcher sp. 10;
Wilson's Snipe 6; Red Phalarope cw; Bonaparte's Gull 31; Mew Gull 1113;
Ring-billed Gull 465; California Gull 24; Herring Gull 10; Thayer's Gull 7;
*Western Gull 17; Western x Glaucous-winged Gull 451; Glaucous-winged Gull
2184; gull sp. 230; Common Murre 32; *Pigeon Guillemot 38; Ancient Murrelet cw;
Cassin's Auklet 1; Rhinoceros Auklet 8; *Rock Pigeon 3244; Band-tailed Pigeon
204; Barn Owl 2; Western Screech-Owl 4; Barred Owl 1; *Anna's Hummingbird 248;
*Belted Kingfisher 36; Red-naped Sapsucker cw; Red-breasted Sapsucker 3; Downy
Woodpecker 85; *Northern Flicker (all) 430; N. "Red-shafted" Flicker [426]; N.
"Yellow-shafted" Flicker [2]; N. "Red-" x "Yellow-shafted" Flicker [2];
Pileated Woodpecker 10; Hutton's Vireo 11; Barn Swallow 2; *Steller's Jay 200;
Western Scrub-Jay 4; Crow (American or Northwestern) 12281; *Black-capped
Chickadee 1571; Chestnut-backed Chickadee 152; *Bushtit 1698; Red-breasted
Nuthatch 42; *Brown Creeper 99; *Bewick's Wren 267; *Winter Wren 214; Marsh
Wren 7; *Golden-crowned Kinglet 1355; *Ruby-crowned Kinglet 720; kinglet sp. 1;
Hermit Thrush 11; American Robin 3538; Varied Thrush 75; European Starling
4468; Orange-crowned Warbler 6; *Yellow-rumped Warbler (all) 113; Yellow-r.
"Audubon's" Warbler [66]; Yellow-r. "Myrtle" Warbler [15]; Yellow-r. Warbler
(form unspecified) [32]; Townsend's Warbler 14; Spotted Towhee 227; Savannah
Sparrow 1; Fox Sparrow 192; Song Sparrow 779; Lincoln's Sparrow 21; Swamp
Sparrow 1; White-throated Sparrow 1; *White-crowned Sparrow 71; *Golden-crowned
Sparrow 266; *Dark-eyed Junco (all) 1012; Dark-eyed "Oregon" Junco [1012];
Red-winged Blackbird 215; Western Meadowlark 3; Brewer's Blackbird cw;
Brown-headed Cowbird 1; Purple Finch 4; House Finch 1163; Carpodacus sp. 1;
Pine Siskin 21; American Goldfinch 432; House Sparrow 897; TOTAL INDIVIDUALS
63508; TOTAL SPECIES 124; additional count week species 6; observers 194 in 45


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