Results of the 2012 Stillwater CBC – 97 species

Results of the 113th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count

The National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count is the world’s longest-running citizen science project for wildlife population monitoring.  From humble beginnings in 1900, there are now about 2300 count circles in the U.S., Canada, and most Latin American countries, and more 60,000 people participated in 2012.  The Christmas Bird Count is about more than just people getting together for a fun day of birding; at least 200 peer-reviewed articles have been published using data generated by those 60,000 volunteers.

In Oklahoma, there are about 50 count circles, each 15 miles in diameter, that define the area surveyed for a Christmas Bird Count.  The Payne County Audubon Society has been surveying its Stillwater Count Circle since 1947.  The Stillwater Count is centered one mile north of Highway 51 at Redlands Rd., so it includes local parks and natural areas such as Lake Carl Blackwell, Lake McMurtry, Boomer Lake, Oklahoma State University land, and the Teal Ridge Wetlands.

Anyone can participate in a Christmas Bird Count, and beginners are especially welcome.  The goal is to find as many species of birds as possible in the count circle, and to estimate the number of each species.  If the only bird you can identify is a Blue Jay, and you report that you saw 3 Blue Jays, that is useful information.  For a bit of perspective, the Stillwater Count has found an average of 95 species over the past 10 years, ranging from a low of 77 species in 2002 to a high of 109 in 2005.

This year, members and friends of Payne County Audubon Society participated in the Stillwater Count on Dec. 15th, 2012. Within the 177 square mile count circle, birders tallied 11,413 individuals of 97 different species.

Most small ponds in the count circle were dry because of the ongoing drought. At larger lakes and impoundments, however, geese and other waterfowl were found in numbers typical for this time of year.  Northern Bobwhite was absent from the count.  This formally common species is declining more rapidly than any other bird in North America, and has been recorded only once in the last five local counts.  The rarest bird on the count was a Glaucous Gull at Boomer Lake. This is an Arctic species that only rarely occurs as far south as Oklahoma in the winter. Birders also found two species from the coniferous forests of the North and West, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Pine Siskin. These birds normally winter north or west of Oklahoma, but periodically invade the state in large numbers due to food shortages in their typical winter range.  The complete unofficial tally of birds was:

Cackling Goose, 195

Canada Goose, 1614

Gadwall, 352

American Wigeon, 64

Mallard, 202

Blue-winged Teal, 2

Northern Shoveler, 24

Northern Pintail, 1

Green-winged Teal, 55

Canvasback, 18

Redhead, 11

Ring-necked Duck, 33

Lesser Scaup, 1

Common Goldeneye, 19

Bufflehead, 28

Common Merganser, 6

Hooded Merganser, 85

Wild Turkey, 19

Pied-billed Grebe, 13

American White Pelican, 4

Double-crested Cormorant, 153

Great Blue Heron, 13

Turkey Vulture, 1

Northern Harrier, 8

Sharp-shinned Hawk, 1

Cooper’s Hawk, 5

Red-shouldered Hawk, 33

Red-tailed Hawk, 35

American Kestrel, 20

Bald Eagle, 2

American Coot, 58

Killdeer, 2

Glaucous Gull, 1

Herring Gull, 3

Bonaparte’s Gull, 11

Ring-billed Gull, 1101

Rock Pigeon, 142

Mourning Dove, 145

Eurasian Collared Dove, 6

Greater Roadrunner, 3

Eastern Screech-Owl, 2

Great Horned Owl, 9

Barred Owl, 8

Belted Kingfisher, 8

Red-headed Woodpecker, 5

Red-bellied Woodpecker, 45

Downy Woodpecker, 55

Hairy Woodpecker, 6

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 14

Northern Flicker, 17

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker, 31

Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, 8

Pileated Woodpecker, 4

Eastern Phoebe, 3

Loggerhead Shrike, 2

Blue Jay, 210

American Crow, 368

Carolina Chickadee, 198

Tufted Titmouse, 59

White-breasted Nuthatch, 17

Red-breasted Nuthatch, 16

Brown Creeper, 5

Carolina Wren, 50

Bewick’s Wren, 5

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 3

Golden-crowned Kinglet, 7

Eastern Bluebird, 187

Hermit Thrush, 5

American Robin, 1775

Northern Mockingbird, 52

European Starling, 1070

Cedar Waxwing, 317

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, 94

Spotted Towhee, 12

American Tree Sparrow, 9

Field Sparrow, 65

Swamp Sparrow, 1

Chipping Sparrow, 3

LeConte’s Sparrow, 1

Savannah Sparrow, 4

Fox Sparrow, 15

Song Sparrow, 44

Lincoln’s Sparrow, 2

White-throated Sparrow, 5

White-crowned Sparrow, 3

Harris’s Sparrow, 132

Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco, 613

Dark-eyed (Oregon) Junco, 1

Northern Cardinal, 241

Red-winged Blackbird, 84

Eastern Meadowlark, 159

Meadowlark sp., 63

Rusty Blackbird, 1

Brewer’s Blackbird, 309

Common Grackle, 215

Brown-headed Cowbird, 10

Pine Siskin, 11

American Goldfinch, 108

Purple Finch, 5

House Finch, 29

House Sparrow, 205

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