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Land & Environmental
A male scarlet tanager in its summer plumage. One scarlet tanager (in subdued winter plumage) was spotted in the local Christmas Bird Count. (Photo via Wikipedia)

A male scarlet tanager in brilliant summer plumage. One scarlet tanager (in subdued winter plumage) was spotted in the local Christmas Bird Count, held Dec. 16. Results of that count were recently announced. (Photo via Wikipedia)

You said how many birds??

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The local Christmas Bird Count results are in!

Local birding enthusiasts fanned out across area parks, wetlands and beyond on Dec. 16, with the mission of counting and identifying every bird they saw. Participants found 4,180 birds, representing 60 species.

Those numbers are “fairly typical,” according to local count organizer Nick Boutis, executive director of Glen Helen.

Most unusual species? Easily the scarlet tanager and house wren, Boutis said. One of each was spotted, in John Bryan State Park and Phillips Park (in Beavercreek), respectively. The scarlet tanager, a brilliant bird of the summer woods, is less obvious in the winter, when males’ plumage subdues to olive green and yellow. While both species breed here in the summer, they migrate out of our area in the fall.

Most numerous, surprising no one, were the ubiquitous European starling and Canada goose. Local favorites among the “big birds” included two great blue herons and 34 sandhill cranes. Sandhill cranes are a newcomer to our skies in the past 10 years, and the local bird count reflects that change, according to Boutis in a previous interview with the News. 

This was the eighth year the Glen and local birders have participated in the Christmas Bird Count, an annual early-winter census of the birds of the Western Hemisphere organized by the Audubon Society. (Read an account of the 2015–16 local count here.) Tens of thousands of people across mostly North America count birds over the Christmas season in their local areas. The data from our Greene County count is pooled with those numbers to develop a long-term picture of the health of bird populations in our hemisphere.

And that data is helping to document the effects of climate change and other threats to birds. According to the Audubon’s 2014 Climate Change report, more than half of the 588 North American bird species are losing their climatic range. 

The final tally of species from the Greene County bird count follows:

Great Blue Heron

2

Turkey Vulture

1

Black Vulture

7

Canada Goose

519

Wood Duck

3

Mallard

6

Northern Pintail

2

Sharp-shinned Hawk

1

Cooper’s Hawk

3

Red-shouldered Hawk

1

Red-tailed Hawk

10

Sandhill Crane

34

Rock Pigeon

8

Mourning Dove

36

Eastern Screech-Owl

1

Belted Kingfisher

6

Red-headed Woodpecker

2

Red-bellied Woodpecker

58

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

3

Downy Woodpecker

69

Hairy Woodpecker

6

Northern Flicker

36

Pileated Woodpecker

4

Eastern Phoebe

2

Blue Jay

58

American Crow

422

Horned Lark

15

Carolina Chickadee

176

Tufted Titmouse

73

Red-breasted Nuthatch

4

White-breasted Nuthatch

75

Brown Creeper

9

Carolina Wren

75

Winter Wren

1

Golden-crowned Kinglet

25

Eastern Bluebird

50

Hermit Thrush

6

American Robin

244

Northern Mockingbird

1

European Starling

1295

Cedar Waxwing

15

Eastern Towhee

8

American Tree Sparrow

24

Field Sparrow

3

Fox Sparrow

4

Song Sparrow

97

Swamp Sparrow

4

White-throated Sparrow

133

White-crowned Sparrow

6

Dark-eyed Junco

107

Northern Cardinal

98

Red-winged Blackbird

1

Common Grackle

2

House Finch

41

Pine Siskin

1

American Goldfinch

119

House Sparrow

66

Scarlet Tanager

1

Blackbird 

100

House Wren

1

Total

4180

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You said how many birds??

by Audrey Hackett