Christmas Bird Count 2012

By Kevin McGowan

The 2012 Ithaca Christmas Bird Count was another successful event, with 91 total species found during the day, plus two others found during the Count Week. Two new species were added to the overall list—an Orange-crowned Warbler found in the Ithaca Community Gardens and a Count Week Ross’s Goose seen flying overhead with a migrating flock of Snow Geese.

Totals of resident woodland birds were generally down after a string of record-setting counts. The high winds during the day might have been a factor. It was a generally good year for half-hearties, with records set or tied for Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Winter Wren, and Hermit Thrush. The most unusual southern species this year was Turkey Vulture with a record-shattering total of 44. The vultures were seen in seven of the nine count areas, so double counting was an issue to be dealt with. A count at the roosting site in Cayuga Heights later in the week found 40–45 vultures, which was used as a guide for the final total.

Thanks to all the participants and area compilers, and thanks to Linda Orkin and Bob McGuire for organizing the event.

Total count 27413
Total species 91
Miles on foot 193.3
Hours on foot 176.15
Miles by car 485.5
Hours by car 86.07
Owling miles 66.1
Owling hours 25.25
Participants 126 (without feeder watchers)
Maximum parties 78
Minimum parties 76


Snow Goose 17
Ross’s Goose count week (new to count)
Cackling Goose 5 (high count)
Canada Goose 6702
Gadwall 2
American Black Duck 31
Mallard 902
Northern Pintail 2
Green-winged Teal 1
Canvasback 1
Redhead 15
Ring-necked Duck 3
Greater Scaup 1
Lesser Scaup 8
Surf Scoter 1 (second count)
Bufflehead 2
Common Goldeneye 12
Hooded Merganser 13
Common Merganser 48
Red-breasted Merganser 1
Ruddy Duck 1
Ruffed Grouse 15
Wild Turkey 72
Red-throated Loon 1 (fourth count)
Common Loon 6
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Horned Grebe 1
Red-necked Grebe 2 (fifth count; tie high count)
Double-crested Cormorant 2
Great Blue Heron 20 (tie high count)
Turkey Vulture 44 (high count)
Bald Eagle 3 (tie high count)
Northern Harrier 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk 8
Cooper’s Hawk 11
Northern Goshawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 150
Rough-legged Hawk 7
American Kestrel 6
Merlin 3 (high count)
American Coot 191
Ring-billed Gull 550
Herring Gull 298
Iceland Gull 1
Great Black-Backed Gull 114
Rock Pigeon 1341
Mourning Dove 309
Eastern Screech-Owl 27
Great Horned Owl 21
Barred Owl 3
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 10 (tie high count)
Red-bellied Woodpecker 136
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 275
Hairy Woodpecker 118
Northern (Y-Shaf.) Flicker 27
Pileated Woodpecker 26
Northern Shrike 3
Blue Jay 455
American Crow 2828
Fish Crow 9
Common Raven 30
Horned Lark count week
Black-Capped Chickadee 2708
Tufted Titmouse 336
Red-breasted Nuthatch 36
White-breasted Nuthatch 286
Brown Creeper 30
Carolina Wren 46
Winter Wren 3 (tie high count)
Golden-crowned Kinglet 38
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Eastern Bluebird 90
Hermit Thrush 5 (high count)
American Robin 227
Northern Mockingbird 26
European Starling 5878
Cedar Waxwing 254
Orange-crowned Warbler 1 (new to count)
American Tree Sparrow 164 (low)
Song Sparrow 37
Swamp Sparrow 2
White-throated Sparrow 105
Dark-eyed (S-Col.) Junco 830
Northern Cardinal 275
Red-winged Blackbird 2
Common Grackle 2
Brown-headed Cowbird 7
Purple Finch 39
House Finch 401
American Goldfinch 685
House Sparrow 1050