February 20, 2014 | Volume 44, Number 7

Bird count identifies 26 species in holiday storm

About 30 hearty souls ventured into a heavy snowstorm recently during the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count and tallied 647 birds.

Organized this year by the Takshanuk Watershed Council, the count is made in two, large “circles” in town and up the Haines Highway.

In the town circle, participants reported as much as six inches of snow falling while they counted. They saw 26 different species of birds, most of them typical for winter, said organizer Pam Randles.

There were two unusual sightings: three Pacific (winter) wrens and two snow buntings. “Pacific wrens are usually seen here only in summer, and we usually only see snow buntings during the migrations in spring and fall,” Randles said.

The highway circle didn’t get sufficient coverage this year, she said. Mario Benassi was the only participant there, covering two of the five units.  

Last year, the council put all the units onto GIS maps so there would be less confusion about where to go, and less overlap and double counting, Randles said. 

Species counted, included: Mallard, 20; surf scoter, 4; bufflehead, 34; common goldeneye, 13; Barrow’s goldeneye, 39; goldeneye (species undetermined), 65; common merganser, 2; red-breasted merganser, 5; common loon, 5; bald eagle, 6; herring gull, 7; glaucous-winged gull, 102; gull (species undetermined), 42; rock pigeon, 24; hairy woodpecker, 1; Stellar’s jay, 13; black-billed magpie, 35; Northwestern crow, 93; common raven, 33; chestnut-backed chickadee, 26; American dipper, 16; dark-eyed (Oregon) junco, 20; dark-eyed (slate-colored) junco, 20; pine siskin, 52; winter wren, 3; snow bunting, 2.