HOMER CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT: December 14, 2019
HOMER CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
The 120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 14, 2019. Thirty-two local bird counters were in the field with an additional seven “feeder watchers”, who kept track of birds visiting their bird feeders, were able to tally 13,780 birds of 80 species, a record number of species for the Homer count and beating last year’s record by nine species. Six additional species were also documented during count week (three days before and after the actual count day). Numbers of feeder watchers were up from previous years and helped achieve the high numbers. A list of counts for each species can be seen at the end of this post.
Three species were new to the Homer count and included the Sooty Shearwater, Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, and Orange-crowned Warbler. The exceptionally warm fall is likely the key factor in delaying the migration of these species to more southern latitudes.
The most abundant bird species this year were the Pine Siskin (4,077), Mallard (1,937), and Rock Sandpipers (1,420). A good spruce cone crop this year is supporting large number of finches such as the Pine Siskin, White-winged Crossbill, and Pine Grosbeak, in comparison to recent years. Although large flock of American Robins has been common throughout Homer this fall, only 57 were tallied on this year’s count. It’s often easy to miss large flocks when trying to cover such a large area.
High Mallard numbers reflect the lack of ice in Beluga Slough, Beluga Lake and Mud Bay. These ducks typically winter on the south side of Kachemak Bay when the ice blocks access to feeding habits along the north shore. Rock Sandpipers, a winter resident of Kachemak Bay, were found in generally similar numbers as in previous years.
Over the last several years, there has been a downward trend in numbers of four species of seaducks in the nearshore waters of the count area. These seaducks include the Common Eider, Steller’s Eider, White-winged Scoter, and Surf Scoter. Primary factors in this negative trend are unknown.
A big thanks to all the participants out counting or watching feeders, and to the Islands and Ocean Visitor Center staff for the use of their facilities and helping with logistics for our count. And a special thanks to Dave Erikson who coordinated the count and compiled the results. It was A Great Day to Bird!
View or download the final 2019 Homer CBC list below: