Counting Birds

The last of our breeding birds, wood pewee and indigo bunting, returned to the mountain just in time for International Migratory Bird Day on May 12. Most of the counting this year was done by Marcia, as she recounts on her blog, with help from some of our hunter friends, who were on the mountain very early in pursuit of spring gobblers. A one-day count may not fully capture the species richness here — we know we missed the nesting sharp-shinned hawks, for example — but it gives a pretty good idea of the birds’ relative abundance. The commonest birds on the mountain appear to be red-eyed vireo (20), scarlet tanager (17), eastern towhee (15), ovenbird (13), black-throated green warbler (13), and wood thrush (11). These numbers represent, if anything, an increase from past years, and lend credence to the claims of ornithologists that threatened birds such as scarlet tanagers and wood thrushes would do fine if given sufficient unfragmented forest habitat. Marcia also logged a golden-winged warbler at the edge of Sapsucker Ridge, a species in precipitous decline due to a lack of shrubland habitat and to competition and hybridization with the closely related blue-winged warbler, whose range is expanding northward, possibly as a consequence of global warming.

1. mallard–1
2. ruffed grouse–5
3. wild turkey–7
4. great blue heron–1
5. turkey vulture–3
6. red-tailed hawk–1
7. killdeer–1
8. mourning dove–3
9. yellow-billed cuckoo–8
10. whip-poor-will–2
11. ruby-throated hummingbird–1
12. red-bellied woodpecker–1
13. downy woodpecker–1
14. northern flicker–2
15. pileated woodpecker–2
16. eastern wood-pewee–4
17. Acadian flycatcher–4
18. eastern phoebe–2
19. great-crested flycatcher–6
20. blue-headed vireo–4
21. red-eyed vireo–20
22. blue jay–8
23. American crow–4
24. common raven–1
25. black-capped chickadee–4
26. tufted titmouse–6
27. white-breasted nuthatch–1
28. blue-gray gnatcatcher–2
29. wood thrush–11
30. American robin–2
31. gray catbird–2
32. golden-winged warbler–1
33. black-throated blue warbler–2
34. yellow-rumped warbler–2
35. black-throated green warbler–13
36. blackburnian warbler–1
37. bay-breasted warbler–1
38. black-and-white warbler–9
39. American redstart–8
40. worm-eating warbler–8
41. ovenbird–13
42. Louisiana waterthrush–1
43. common yellowthroat–7
44. hooded warbler–5
45. scarlet tanager–17
46. eastern towhee–15
47. chipping sparrow–3
48. field sparrow–4
49. song sparrow–3
50. northern cardinal–4
51. rose-breasted grosbeak–7
52. indigo bunting–6
53. common grackle–4
54. brown-headed cowbird–5
55. Baltimore oriole–2
56. American goldfinch–5


About Dave Bonta

I'm the author of several books of poetry, including Ice Mountain: An Elegy, Breakdown: Banjo Poems, and Odes to Tools, but my real work is at my long-running literary blog Via Negativa, where I'm currently creating erasure poems from every entry of the Diary of Samuel Pepys. I'm also the editor and publisher of Moving Poems, a blog showcasing the best poetry videos on the web.

Posted on May 14, 2007, in birds, spring arrivals. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I learned from a friend that the British/European sparrows are an invasive species. The friend I talked to said he shoots them if/when they come around, because they destroy the habitat for the other birds. Can you tell me a bit about that?

  2. Well, I think that’s taking things a bit far. They are urban obligates, so I’m not sure which native birds they would really be displacing.Moreover, for unknown reasons house sparrows are vanishing from the cities of Europe, so perhaps we should think about preserving our own populations to ensure the survival of the species.

    Your friend could probably do a lot more to protect bird habitat in general by shooting people. And no people -> no houses -> no house sparrows.

  3. On second thought, house sparrows do compete with eastern bluebirds and tree swallows for nesting boxes. So O.K., shoot ’em.

  1. Pingback: May Journal Highlights (1) « Marcia Bonta

  2. Pingback: 2008 International Migratory Bird Day « Plummer’s Hollow, Pennsylvania

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