Monday, January 14, 2013

Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count Final Results

Guest post by Rich Hoyer, TVCBC Compiler

The numbers have been duly crunched and I can report a resoundingly successful CBC this year. I'm extremely grateful for everyone's contribution. View the final spreadsheet here.

I wanted to bring a few highlights to the forefront. The first highlight is a record 129 participants (124 in the field and 5 feeder watchers). I'm sure we'll get more next year – we are a metro area of over a million, after all.

Three new species were added to the all-time list: Whiskered Screech-Owl (one repsonded to my imitation way up the Finger Rock Canyon Trail; they've always been there in the circle, but no one has tried for them, and they don't always respond during the day), Pine Warbler (found by Mary Gustafson of Texas on a break between meetings 11 days before the CBC), and Yellow-throated Warbler (found by Mark Stevenson 13 days before the CBC). With 11 species of wood-warblers, it was quite the winter! (And we missed Yellow Warbler and Black-and-white Warbler, which were seen before and after the count.)

The final tally of 153 species falls just one short of tying the 1977 record, and looking at what we missed, a higher total is definitely within our reach. With a developing culture of pre-CBC scouting (the new, young organizers of the Albuquerque CBC have set a high bar), I certainly see 160+ species possible every year.

The most interesting results are the actual numbers of individuals – which ones were low this year and which ones were high, and I've color-coded the spreadsheet to make them easier to find. Those species that I marked as notably low in numbers were those that fell below both the long-term mean and median.

Tucson Valley will definitely stand out in the nation this year for having broken FIVE all-time highs – 104 Cooper's Hawks, 818 Gila Woodpeckers, 190 Vermilion Flycatchers, 19 Plumbeous Vireos, and 796 Verdins. The hawk and flycatcher populations have been increasing in Tucson, and we've been the #1 count for those for several years, so they aren't much of a surprise (though the number Vermilion Flycatchers was quite a stunning blow to the old record of 116, held by the Kingsville, Texas CBC since 2003). Tucson Valley also leads the nation in Gila Woodpecker and Verdin every year, so with a record number of observers, we should have had a good count of those. The old Verdin record of 592 was held by the Salt-Verde River CBC since 1991, and we beat our own record of Gila Woodpecker. The Plumbeous Vireo numbers was quite a surprise, especially since the number of Cassin's Vireos wasn't especially high. There were just a lot of them around this winter.

We had high counts for a fair number of other species some of which will surely be national highs for the year, a statistic that is compiled each year by Brent Ortego of Texas. Possible contenders (which we won't know until all counts have been entered online, usually not until March) will be Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Cassin's Vireo, Cactus Wren, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Lesser Goldfinch, and Lawrence's Goldfinch. Tucson Valley has had up to 9 national highs in a few recent years; this year we'll probably break that barrier.

Next Year:
The Count Compiler has the liberty of choosing the CBC date each year – any time from December 14 to January 5. In recent years, Tucson Valley has been held on the first Sunday of that period, immediately following the Santa Catalina Mountains CBC, and the nearby Avra Valley CBC has usually been around the same weekend. A fair number of observers would probably like to do at least two of these CBCs but don't want to do two back-to-back. (I personally have never done either count because there is no countdown dinner, which for me is half the fun; and this year they were held on the same day.) So with those thoughts in mind, I'll be creating an online poll sometime in the next months to find out whether a significant number of you would prefer a weekend or a weekday, and how many would want to do both CBCs. Another thing to keep in mind is that next year we'll have a larger, more centrally located, indoor location for the countdown dinner.

Thanks again, and see you next year.


Rich Hoyer
Tucson, Arizona
Senior Leader for WINGS

Tucson Valley Christmas Bird Count:
Atasocsa Highlands Christmas Bird Count:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks, we value your opinions! Your comment will be reviewed before being published.