Records set during 2008 UW-Richland Bird Count - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Records set during 2008 UW-Richland Bird Count

RICHLAND CENTER (WKOW) -- from UW-Richland:  Northern Junco counts set two record highs during the 41st annual UW-Richland-sponsored Bird Count held Saturday.

  The highest number of Northern Juncos (2847) in the history of the count earned that species honors as the most numerous seen during this year's count.

  A whopping 26% of all birds counted December 20 were Northern Juncos.

  Red-bellied Woodpeckers were record-setters, too.

  A 41-year high of 100 Red-bellied Woodpeckers were counted this year.

  With a count of 19, Ring-necked Pheasants also hit a record high in 2008, as did Brown Creepers, with a count of seven.

  Only 45 different species were counted this year, down from 51 species last year and the 2005 all-time one-year record of 58 species set in 2005.

  The 2008 total tally of birds was 11,003, down from 12,640 spotted last year and significantly fewer than the record-high 15,800 counted in 2000.

  "We had too much of a good thing," said Robert Hirschy, UW-Richland emeritus biology faculty member and one of the count coordinators. "The 12 inches of snow made the count really challenging, since we were unable to hike as much as we usually do. This was a key factor in the significant reduction in species seen. The ideal snow cover is a couple of inches-not enough to impact walking but enough to make the birds easily visible."

  The count surveys a 15-mile circle, the center of which, near Pine Valley Health Care Center, is the junction of Highways O and OO.

  Hirschy points out that the 15-mile diameter circle area of the count includes the east side of Muscoda over to Avoca, as well as territory in Richland County.

  Other notable high counts from the 2008 tabulation include American Goldfinches, the most seen since 1985; Tree Sparrows, the most seen since 1989; and Pileated Woodpeckers, the most seen since 1988.                                                      

  Hirschy noted that Fox Sparrows, with four counted this year, have been seen on only six previous counts, most since 2002.

  The 2008 count was only the 11th time in 41 years that Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been sighted.

  Eastern Bluebirds were seen for the 11th consecutive year.

  Conspicuous by their absence this year were a number of species seen most years including the Bobwhite, Canada Goose, Cedar Waxwing, Evening Grosbeak, Kingfisher, Ruffed Grouse, and Screech Owl.

  "We have not seen a Bobwhite since 2004," Hirschy said."That doesn't mean that there are no Bobwhite in the circle. It's just that the population is so low that, on Count Days, we've been unable to find any."

  During the 2008 count, 38 field observers and four feeder watchers put in 76 party hours-15 on foot and 61 by car.

  In addition, they spent 12 hours owling.

  Three new field observers and two new feeder watchers joined in the fun for the first time during the 2008 count.

  The 2009 Bird Count is planned for Saturday, December 19.

  The tally for the count is:

UW-Richland 2008 Bird Count

Dark-eyed Junco

2847

Eastern Bluebird

18

European Starling

1697

Pileated Woodpecker

18

American Goldfinch

770

Rough-legged Hawk

17

American Crow

732

Pine Siskin

16

House Sparrow

727

American Kestrel

8

American Tree Sparrow

648

Brown Creeper

7

Rock Pigeon

642

Northern Flicker

7

Wild Turkey

577

Fox Sparrow

4

Northern Cardinal

514

Red-breasted Nuthatch

4

Blue Jay

463

Cooper's Hawk

3

Black-capped Chickadee

446

Northern Harrier

3

Mourning Dove

180

Northern Shrike

3

White-breasted Nuthatch

125

Song Sparrow

3

Downy Woodpecker

109

American Robin

2

Red-bellied Woodpecker

100

Common Merganser

2

Tufted Titmouse

58

Great Horned Owl

2

Horned Lark

46

Red-headed Woodpecker

2

House Finch

44

Sharp-shinned Hawk

2

Red-tailed Hawk

40

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

2

Hairy Woodpecker

37

Barred Owl

1

Bald Eagle

28

Mallard

1

Purple Finch

28

Wilson's Snipe

1

Ring-necked Pheasant

19

Total species - 45                         Total

11,003

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