2013-14 Marietta area winter bird count

It’s snowing outside as I write this in mid-April, and, wisely, nobody showed up for the first of the spring’s morning bird walks at 6:30 a.m. The migrants are beginning to arrive from down south despite what this day looks like. Since Louisiana water thrushes, tree swallows and field sparrows have arrived, it must be time for the annual review of last winter’s feeder counts.

The big news is our 17 watchers reported a record total of 62 species. It was a big year for water birds, normally wintering north of us, fleeing ice. Diane Mitchell on her first time with us saw 35 species from her Muskingum River overlook including wood ducks, mergansers, gulls, great blue herons and a Brewer’s blackbird. She, Barb Hohman with 34 species (and our only black vulture) and John Pritchett on the Ohio River in Newport all reported bald eagles. Pritchett’s 17 species included two mute swans and our only brown thrasher. Marianne Bradley with 31 species reported 12 rusty blackbirds and our only turkey. Lucine Wright with 29 species got our only woodcock. John and Susan Ellis with 29 species contributed our only house wrens. Janis Schweigard, another newcomer, reported 30 species, our only killdeers, and with Andrea Sites (31 species and a golden-crowned kinglet), Barb Hohman and Diane Mitchell 4 brown creepers. Kathy Layman, a newcomer from Stockport had the only red-breasted nuthatch among 26 species. Sandy Albrecht found the only palm warbler reported in 17 years of winter watching and a flock of 65 cedar waxwings among her 25 species. No pine siskins, redpolls or crossbills this winter

Raptors reported include 5 bald eagles; 5 Cooper’s, 3 red-shouldered, 2 sharp-shinned and 2 red-tailed hawks. Here’s our list of the 10 most frequently-seen birds for the last three years. The most star(t)ling thing is the increasing numbers of black birds; grackles, starlings and red-winged blackbirds.

Thanks to all those who participated including Susan and Mildred Cady, Anne Jacoby, Elin Jones, Becky Wright, Mike Smith and Marilyn Ortt in addition to those mentioned above. Special thanks to the Thompson family at Bird Watcher’s Digest for providing the forms and financial support.

Brad Bond lives in Marietta.