The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 14, 2000


Christmas Bird Count, Carlisle, 1999

Ignoring millennium hype and Y2K hysteria, thirteen birders combed the woods, fields, and swamps of southern Carlisle on Sunday January 2 for the annual Christmas Bird Count. This was the 27th consecutive year of the count in Carlisle, but the 100th year of this winter census in the U.S. Each count is conducted within a 15-mile-diameter circle. Last year there were 1767 such circles in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, and even on a few Pacific islands. Carlisle is at the northern edge of the Concord circle, which is centered at the intersection of the boundaries of Concord, Sudbury, Maynard, and Acton.

Except for some late morning rain, weather conditions were ideal - windless, mild, and overcast. However, the lack of snow on the ground reduced the concentrations of birds at feeders. Overall results for Carlisle were similar to last year: 2600 individuals of 42 species, compared to 2605 individuals of 41 species last year.

One new species was found, an immature Snow Goose in a flock of Canada Geese, discovered by Steve Spang on the newly-acquired Wang-Coombs conservation land at the corner of Fiske and Curve Streets. This site is just outside the count circle, the edge of which lies just north of Route 225. However, late in the day the whole goose flock took to the air, flew south into the count circle observer airspace, then turned and headed into Westford. This was the only Snow Goose in the Concord count circle.

Several species were found in record numbers: two Red-shouldered Hawks (one each in the eastern and western ends of town), 15 Red-bellied Woodpeckers (previous high was 12 in 1997, as this invader from the south continues to flourish in southern Carlisle), 3 Northern Flickers, 93 White-breasted Nuthatches (previous high89 in 1991), 15 Carolina Wrens (previous high13 in 1993), 20 Eastern Bluebirds (previous highten in 1996), 82 American Robins (far above the prior record of 15 a few years ago), and 35 Common Redpolls counted by Don and Lillian Stokes in their yard on Nowell Farme Road (previous high22 in 1993). Red-bellied Woodpecker and Common Redpoll counts were the highest of any town in the Concord count circle. The mild, snowless winter is almost certainly responsible for the abundance of flickers, wrens, bluebirds, and robins.

Other notable birds found on the count were two Eastern Screech Owls (including one roosting in a dead tree on Baldwin Road), two Pileated Woodpeckers (found by Lyn Oleksiak near Autumn Lane), and a Fox Sparrow found by the Stokes. At lunchtime, count participants were treated to a spectacular display at the Emmons' on Baldwin Road, including Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, and 13 Pine Siskins.

The day before the count, Laura and Michael Foley found a hawk in their yard on Russell Street, its neck broken. Thanks to the Foley's careful preservation of the body, it was able to be examined during the lunch break by all the Carlisle observers, who agreed that it was an immature female Cooper's Hawk. This was the only Cooper's Hawk found this year (the last one was in 1993), but because it wasn't seen alive on the day of the count is recorded as a "Count Week" bird and is not added into the totals. ("Count Week" is the three days before and the three days after the day of the count.)

Significantly up from last year were 204 Canada Geese, 219 Blue Jays, 192 Tufted Titmice, 23 Northern Mockingbirds, 48 Cedar Waxwings, 84 House Finches, and 17 Pine Siskins (none last year). Down from last year were 13 Rock Doves, eight Hairy Woodpeckers, two Golden-crowned Kinglets (19 last year), and 39 American Tree Sparrows (115 last year). Completely missed this year were Northern Goshawk, Ring-necked Pheasant (none for the last four years), Ruffed Grouse, and Northern Shrike.

This year's observers were D'Ann and Tom Brownrigg, Eric and Margaret Baltz Darling, Susan Emmons, Ken Harte (Carlisle coordinator), Marilyn Harte, Ellen Huber, Lyn Oleksiak, Steve Spang, Don and Lillian Stokes, and Betty Valentine. Thanks go also to the feeder-watchers whose observations are always important for the count.

2000 The Carlisle Mosquito