Southwest Morris Winter Bird Count Results, Jan. 23, 2015

The 31st Southwest Morris Winter Bird Count was held on Sunday, January 18, 2015. Weather conditions are the main story as freezing rain fell in the morning creating slippery and treacherous conditions. Temperatures were forecast to reach 40 F degrees but never came close, hovering slightly above the freezing mark most of the day as rain continued.

Founded by Dave Harrison, the count is structured like a typical Audubon Christmas Bird Count with the circle centered around Chester. Primarily in Morris County, the count also reaches into neighboring Warren, Hunterdon and Sussex Counties as well. It should be noted that Dave wore the same light-blue crew neck sweater on the count for the 31st consecutive year.

Here is Dave Harrison’s summary of the day’s results:

Total species count was 78 – about the mean and median for the history of the count, but 4 species below the mean and median for the past 15 years. Positive results were outweighed by the negative (as expected) – here are highlights and lowlights:
Cackling Goose – 2nd time on count in the Hackettstown area
Northern Shoveler – 7th time on count
Merlin – 5th time on count
Red-headed Woodpecker – 5th time on count
Horned Lark – missed for only the 8th time
Common Raven – 8th time on count (almost all within the past 10 years)
Hermit Thrush – missed for only the 2nd time
Gray Catbird – missed for only the 10th time
Northern Mockingbird – only 7 birds; the previous low count was 10
Yellow-rumped Warbler – missed for only the 2nd time
Field Sparrow – missed for only the 3rd time
Red-winged Blackbird – missed for only the 4th time

– Dave Harrison

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