The Homer Christmas Bird Count, held on December 16, had 27 volunteers in the field in 11 teams to cover the traditions 15-mile diameter count circle centered in Mud Bay at the base of the Homer Spit. The weather cooperated quite nicely with temperature mostly above freezing and little wind. A total of 65 species were documented with 8,648 individual birds. Total numbers of several species were slightly lower in compassion to the last few years. The most abundant birds were Mallard (2,2251), followed by the Rock Sandpiper (1,250). Nine species only had one individual seen throughout the day.
Two species were new to the count: Costa’s Hummingbird and Black-backed Woodpecker. The hummingbird was seen approximately 5 miles out East End Road at a hummingbird feeder. The black-backed woodpecker was seen with an American three-toed woodpecker at the northern end of the Calvin and Coyle Nature Trail below Mariner Drive, approximately Mile 1 East Road. This woodpecker is normally found in interior Alaska and is generally rare along the coast. The Costa’s hummingbird, typically seen in southern California and Arizona, is well outside it’s normal range.
Species number and total numbers were generally within the normal range over the past several years. Numbers of wintering American Robins and Bohemian Waxwings continue to be relatively high with 121 and 254 individuals respectively. Counts for finches, including the Common Redpoll (328), Pine Siskin (1,011), Pine Grosbeak (316), were also relatively high in comparison to past years. However, the White-winged and Red Crossbills were totally absent from this year’s count.
Bald Eagle and Northwestern Crow numbers were slightly down this year in comparison to the last five years. The lack of available supplemental food at the Homer Transfer facility in recent years may have been a factor in this decline.”
A big thank you to all the many volunteers and to the staff at Islands and Ocean for letting us use their wonderful facility and helping us out also with logistics during the day. And to Dave Erikson for coordinating our Count here now for the last 41 years!