by Lisa Bate, compiler
This winter, Glacier National Park (GNP) held its annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Sunday, December 17. Twenty-nine participants contributed to this event by covering 10 different routes in Glacier, and one bird feeder in West Glacier. Participants spent the day counting all bird species and individuals detected; and the main description for this fun winter tradition this year was… “quiet”. This was due to a continual freezing rain, mist, and clouds that engulfed the area and put a damper on bird activity. As one participant described it, his “pack looked like it had Krispy Crème donut icing on it”, due to the rain falling in sub-freezing temperatures.
Although our overall count of individuals was low, with only 392 birds counted, participants detected 34 different species! We even added two new species! The most surprising of these were Harris’s Sparrows observed at the lone feeder count in the circle. This participant reported having as many as four Harris’s Sparrows at her bird feeder this fall. The other new species on the count was the Wild Turkey. A team spotted seven birds across the Middle Fork of the Flathead River as they hiked the Boundary Trail.
Some of the more unusual bird sightings included a Red-necked Grebe on the open waters of Lake McDonald. Observers on the Camas/Inside Road loop detected the rare Northern Hawk Owl. One team reported a Northern Pygmy Owl feasting on a rodent of its choice.
Black-capped Chickadees were the most abundant bird species detected with 61 individuals counted, followed by Canada Goose at a count of 54. No additional species were detected during count week (3 days before and 3 days after count day).
Glacier’s CBC started in 1962, and contributed to the 118th year of the National Audubon Society’s CBC. Thanks to all participants for contributing their expertise, time, and energy for this annual event. Your efforts are invaluable in tracking long-term changes in species abundance, diversity, and range changes, in Glacier and throughout North America! Looking forward to our next outing and remember…2018 is the ‘Year of the Bird’ so stay tuned for more birding events!