The 66th Christmas Bird Count conducted in the Burlington circle and the 114th CBC overall is in the books and it was a good one. On a snowy December day 55 birders ventured forth, counting 13042 birds-not record-breaking for sure, but respectable. The highlight of the count was a pair of Long-eared Owls heard at MacCrae Park in Colchester by Allan Strong and the Midnight Hooters in the early morning hours. In fact, on their route from Shelburne to Colchester, Allan and the Hooters picked up six owl species (Great-horned Owl, Eastern Screech Owl, Barred Owl, Long-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and a Snowy Owl), showing that the owls are out there if you are willing to put in the time and energy to find them.
New records were set or tied this year for Peregrine Falcon (3), Rough-legged Hawk (9), Northern Saw-whet Owl (1), Horned Lark (39), Eastern Bluebird (13), Red-bellied Woodpecker (14), Winter Wren (3), Dark-eyed Juncos (346), and American Goldfinches (484). Other notable findings were a continuing pair of Gadwall at Shelburne Bay, 9 Bald Eagles, a Northern Goshawk, Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, and 2 persistent Yellow-rumped Warblers in Shelburne. During count week two additional species were added to the count-a Brown-headed Cowbird and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a new bird for our CBC. When these two birds are included in the count, we tied our previous record of 73 species set in 2005.
"Southern" species continued their march into northern New England. In addition to the record-breaking numbers of Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, and Carolina Wrens (13) were broadly represented in multiple sectors of the Burlington circle.
Conversely, Bohemian Waxwings, Common Redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, and Purple Finches-all of which were reported in last year's count-were conspicuous by their absence. Maybe next year.
The day ended with the usual round up of the teams hosted by Bob and Shirley Johnson and entertainingly orchestrated by Jim Osborn. Truly this event is the highlight of our birding year. Here is a link to the final report of the Burlington CBC compiled by Eric Lazarus.