2012

The 77th Boonton Christmas Bird Count (CBC) occurred on Sunday, December 23, 2012. First and foremost a warm and hearty thank you to all of the participants in this year’s CBC. The weather was accommodating with freezing temperatures at dawn giving way to partly and then mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the high 30 degrees Fahrenheit by afternoon. There was some wind in open spaces. All bodies of water were open.  Conditions seemed conducive to a productive count. The only thing missing was the birds. Was it too much open water, absolutely no snow cover – your guess is as good as anyone’s is. A rainstorm the previous week caused flooding to many areas making them inaccessible. Tim Vogel put it in perspective: “I never had such a slow day in the 40+ years I’ve been on the count. With nothing frozen or with no snow the birds are really spread out. Even the duck and gull count at the reservoir was way off.”

Read the previous paragraph – and then see the tally of 96 species plus 2 count week species and suddenly the numbers do not look so bleak, at least to the compiler. In fact, 96 is one less than the total for 2011 – two less than 2010 – 18 more than the 76-year average of 78 – only three less than the 21st century average of 99. There, it does not look so bad after all. The total number of individuals, 17,778, tells a different story. This is the lowest number since 1989’s 15,285. It is well below the 21st century average of 27, 693 (this average is boosted by 20,000 Common Grackles in 2001). The species number is admirable but the number of individuals is worthy of further study though not in the context of the present document.

The highlights of the count are geese: the count’s second Greater White-fronted Goose was seen by Kevin Lapsey and Florence Klecha at Foote’s Pond in Morristown late in the afternoon of the 23rd. The Boonton Reservoir party picked up the count’s second all-time Cackling Goose. Snow Goose totals set a new count record. Canada Goose numbers are the 3rd highest in count history. Not to be forgotten, Green-winged Teal totals are the 2nd highest in count history. Common Raven had its all-time high total. And on it goes.

The following summary neither creates explanations nor makes comparisons with other CBCs. It simply and truthfully presents the numbers and facts within the context of the 77 years of the Boonton CBC.

First are the species that were missed in 2012. Twenty species have appeared on all of the previous 76 Boonton CBCs. In 2012, all twenty 76ers became 77ers.

The following missed species are categorized based on their number of years on the count (the number in parenthesis), i.e. Eastern Towhee (61) means Eastern Towhee has appeared on the count 61 years. This list goes as far as the 30-year group, which covers approximately half the years of the count.

70-years
All accounted for in 2012.
60-years
Eastern Towhee (61) – 1st miss since 1967.
50-years
Common Goldeneye (59) – missed 2nd year in a row after a consecutive string of appearances from 1989-2010.
Ruffed Grouse (51) – 2006 was its last appearance.
40-years
Long-eared Owl (49) – appeared only once since 2008 and that was in 2009.
Rough-legged Hawk (47) – 1 in 2010 is the only since 2008.
Eastern Meadowlark (41) – an annual and modestly numerous species on the count into the 1970s has appeared only 3 times since 1985: in 1989, 1996 and 2001.
30-years
Horned Lark (39) – 1 individual on the 2003 count is the only one since 2000.
Greater Scaup (37) – missed three years in a row.
Redhead (34) – missed for the 5th time in the 21st century.
Virginia Rail (34) – last appearance was in 1987.
Red-headed Woodpecker (34) – 1st miss since 2002.
Evening Grosbeak (33) – last appearance was 1997.
Marsh Wren (30) – not since 2007.

Summary: In the red and in the black.
The species below are followed by a number in parentheses representing the total for 2012. Mallard (714) means 714 Mallards were observed in 2012. 2009 (600) means 600 were tallied in 2009. Not all of the species are represented below, but just a small sampling of some that have interesting stories to tell.

In the red:
Wood Duck (4) – far below the 21st century average of 15.2.
Mallard (714) – 3nd lowest since 2009 (600) and 1972 (566).
Common Merganser (136) – 2nd lowest since 1993 (76). 2006 had 127.
Sharp-shinned Hawk (6) and Cooper’s Hawk (4) – lowest since 1990 – (4) and (3) respectively.
Ring-billed Gull (532) – Over 400 below the 21st Century average of 943.
Herring Gull (35) – 2nd lowest since 1963 (13). 2006 had 33.
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 2011 (69) and 2012 (74) are the lowest since 1993 (71).
Northern Flicker (23) – lowest since 1981 (19).
Blue Jay (206) – lowest since 1988 (173) and 1980 (147).
American Crow (369) – lowest since 1977 (346).
American Robin (58) – lowest since 1994 (48).
Eastern Bluebird (19) – below the average of 35 in the 21st Century.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (4) – lowest since 2004 (2).
American Tree Sparrow (139) – 2nd lowest total since the first count in 1936. 2011 is lower at 125. This species has averaged 680 since 1936 with 17 years topping 1,000 and many other years close to that. 1998 is the last year the total was over 1,000. There has been a sharp decline since.
Field Sparrow (12) – lowest since 1968 (5).
White-throated Sparrow (512) – Almost 400 below 21st Century average.
Northern Cardinal – 2011 (129) and 2012 (152) are the two lowest totals since the early 1970s.
Rusty Blackbird (3) – lowest since 1990 (0).
House Finch (85) – 3rd lowest number since 1971 (73). 2010 had 73.

In the black:
Greater White-fronted Goose (1) – 2nd in count history – 2005 was the first.
Snow Goose (301) – All-time high. Previous was 255 in 1993.
Cackling Goose (1) – 2nd appearance on count – 2008 was the first.
Canada Goose (6,038) – 3rd highest in count history following 2009 (7,143) and 1993 (6,253).
Tundra Swan (4) – 6th appearance on the count.
Gadwall (240) – 3rd highest in count history following 1991 (256) and 1974 (251).
Northern Pintail (8) – same as 2011, slightly above 21st century average of 5.
Green-winged Teal (106) – 2nd highest in count history. 1999 had 121.
Canvasback (27) – highest total since 2000 (31).
Green-winged Teal (106) – 2nd highest in count history. 1999 had 121.
Bufflehead (79)  -highest since 2006 after 3 year dip.
Common Loon (2) – highest since 2003 (3).
Black Vulture (84) – 2nd highest in count history. 1994 had 87.
American Kestrel (2) – appears after a miss in 2011.
Barred Owl (5) – 4th time in 21st century with a total of 5 – also in 2000, 2004, 2005.
Common Raven (7) – all-time high for the count.
Brown Creeper (19) – highest since 1995 (23).
Winter Wren (13) – highest since 2006 (18).
Fox Sparrow (29) – 2nd highest in count history. 2001 had 121.
Song Sparrow (308) – below 21st century average (488) but better than previous 2 years.
Red-winged Blackbird (421) – 4th highest in 21st cent.
American Goldfinch (123) – slightly reverses a 4 year slide not seen since late 1960’s.

The table below contains all 98 species observed on the 2012 Boonton CBC (including the two count week species). Following the species column is the total number of individuals for 2012. This is followed by the all-time (previous 76 years) average for that species. If some species have a zero average that is because the numbers have been rounded. Next is the 21st Century average from 2000-2011. This gives a recent perspective on the species’ performance. The last column is the number of years the species has appeared on the count. This last column is updated through 2012.

2012 Boonton CBC All-time 21st Cent.
Species 2012 Avg. Avg. Years
Greater White-fronted Goose 1 0 0 2
Snow Goose 301 4 1 16
Cackling Goose 1 0 0 2
Canada Goose 6,038 1,683 4,487 57
Mute Swan 65 29 84 59
Tundra Swan 4 0 0 6
Wood Duck 4 8 15 64
Gadwall 240 36 81 52
American Wigeon 26 27 14 65
American Black Duck 220 390 228 77
Mallard 714 751 1,023 77
Northern Shoveller 5 6 20 37
Northern Pintail 8 5 5 51
Green-winged Teal 106 12 32 50
Canvasback 27 21 8 49
Ring-necked Duck 205 71 258 62
Lesser Scaup 62 12 23 39
Bufflehead 79 19 58 57
Hooded Merganser 226 37 169 60
Common Merganser 136 208 613 71
Red-breasted Merganser 6 0 0 9
Ruddy Duck 99 76 162 63
Ring-necked Pheasant CW (2) 4 1 68
Wild Turkey 82 16 73 26
Common Loon 2 0 1 21
Pied-billed Grebe 11 3 4 58
Great Blue Heron 33 11 31 59
Black Vulture 84 5 16 23
Turkey Vulture 97 17 60 39
Bald Eagle 7 1 5 27
Northern Harrier 2 3 5 63
Sharp-shinned Hawk 6 5 14 60
Cooper’s Hawk 4 3 8 47
Red-shouldered Hawk 3 3 2 67
Red-tailed Hawk 69 44 91 77
American Kestrel 2 8 1 71
Peregrine Falcon 1 0 1 14
American Coot 46 32 72 55
Killdeer 5 4 2 50
Wilson’s Snipe 2 3 4 50
American Woodcock 1 1 2 32
Ring-billed Gull 532 461 943 58
Herring Gull 35 268 143 74
Great Black-backed Gull 5 15 12 49
Rock Pigeon 475 347 743 40
Mourning Dove 459 268 495 69
Eastern Screech-Owl 15 15 20 70
Great Horned Owl 6 7 8 72
Barred Owl 5 1 3 45
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1 0 0 21
Belted Kingfisher 18 10 17 74
Red-bellied Woodpecker 74 40 148 42
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 1 4 39
Downy Woodpecker 112 118 154 77
Hairy Woodpecker 28 24 33 77
Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker 23 28 64 75
Pileated Woodpecker 10 3 6 49
Blue Jay 206 393 598 77
American Crow 369 1,598 1,761 77
Fish Crow 20 17 105 39
Common Raven 7 0 1 6
Black-capped Chickadee 214 324 255 77
Tufted Titmouse 255 236 344 77
Red-breasted Nuthatch 5 5 5 56
White-breasted Nuthatch 123 93 125 77
Brown Creeper 19 12 8 77
Carolina Wren 65 19 75 60
Winter Wren 13 5 9 70
Golden-crowned Kinglet 13 29 20 74
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 8 3 7 54
Eastern Bluebird 19 12 35 53
Hermit Thrush 2 3 6 52
American Robin 58 218 664 74
Gray Catbird 2 1 3 45
Northern Mockingbird 76 68 108 55
European Starling 2,211 2,496 4,164 77
Cedar Waxwing 18 35 86 58
Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler 4 12 26 49
American Tree Sparrow 139 680 387 77
Chipping Sparrow CW 1 1 21
Field Sparrow 12 37 29 73
Savannah Sparrow 2 4 5 54
Fox Sparrow 29 8 23 67
Song Sparrow 308 325 488 77
Swamp Sparrow 30 36 37 77
White-throated Sparrow 512 406 910 77
White-crowned Sparrow 8 1 5 28
Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco 995 635 1,012 77
Northern Cardinal 150 160 245 77
Red-winged Blackbird 421 505 412 74
Rusty Blackbird 3 65 77 74
Common Grackle 3 1,334 3,943 61
Brown-headed Cowbird 1 37 59 63
Purple Finch 2 16 8 72
House Finch 85 200 211 49
Pine Siskin 10 16 4 47
American Goldfinch 123 205 228 77
House Sparrow 407 461 699 77
Total Individuals 17,778 15,968 27,693
Total Species 96 78 99
Party Hours 134 104 158
Number of Observers 37 33 38

2 Responses to 2012

  1. Pingback: Report of the 77th Boonton Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 23, 2012 | mocosoco Birds

  2. Mike Hiotis says:

    Jonathan thank you for the excellent compilation and information. I always enjoy seeing CBC results.

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