The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 13, 2006


Christmas Bird Count in Carlisle

Feeder-watchers Lyn Oleksiak and Betty Meehan keep warm while participating in the Christmas Bird Count. (Photo by Ellen Huber)
With temperatures in the low 20s to mid-30s and some sun in the morning but clouding over in the afternoon, 11 birders plus feeder watchers participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count on January 2. This was the 33rd consecutive year of the count in Carlisle and the 106th year in the U.S. Carlisle south of Route 225, where the census took place, is at the northern edge of the 15-mile diameter Concord Christmas Count circle.

In spite of relatively mild weather, energetic observers, and diligent feeder-watchers, the 39 spcies found were well below the record 47 set in 2003, but up from last year's 36. New to the count was a male Common Goldeneye, spotted on the Concord River from the Route 225 bridge by Tom and D'Ann Brownrigg, who also found a record 7 Common Mergansers there, all males.

Also record-setting were 3 Hermit Thrushes that survived the harsh December on the west side of town: one found by Eric Darling at Fifty Acre Way, one at the Darlings' feeder on West Street, and a third one found by D'Ann Brownrigg and Margaret Darling feeding in the bushes at Kirkpatricks', at the corner of West and Acton Streets.

Scarce hawks and owls

Hawks were relatively scarce, except for five Red-tailed Hawks and a Cooper's Hawk. The count of 136 Herring Gulls flying over southern Carlisle east-to-west in the morning was the highest since 1997. The only owl on the count was a Great Horned Owl heard by Leslie Thomas and Ken Harte near Estabrook Road at 4 a.m.

Some other notable birds were a Northern Flicker and a Pine Siskin found at Towle Field by Ken Harte, 18 Hairy Woodpeckers (most since 1991), 3 Pileated Woodpeckers, 20 Red-breasted Nuthatches (the highest count in any of the 18 towns in the Concord Christmas Count circle), and 1 juvenile Northern Shrike found by Susan Emmons and Steve Spang at Clark Farm. The most abundant bird was Black-capped Chickadee (298), followed by Mourning Dove (233) and American Goldfinch (152).

A number of species were scarce this year. The Blue Jay count of 107 was the lowest since 1992; Tufted Titmouse 102, lowest since 1996; Carolina Wren 11, lowest since 2000; Eastern Bluebird 9, lowest since 1999; American Robin 45 and Northern Cardinal 38, lowest since 1998; Dark-eyed Junco 132, lowest since 1996; and House Finch 28, lowest since 2000. Another low count was 4 Northern Mockingbirds, far commoner 10 or 20 years ago.

With lemon-yellow head and red legs, this unusual bird has been seen with goldfinches at Baldwin Road feeders. (Photo by Susan Emmons)more pictures
Completely absent were Canada Goose, Mallard, Ring-necked Pheasant (only one in the last ten years, in 2003), Ruffed Grouse (none since 2000), any Blackbird (low counts everywhere in the Concord circle), Fox Sparrow (only one in the entire Concord circle), and Purple Finch. Another species that used to be a regular winter visitor but has not been seen on the count since 1990 is Evening Grosbeak.


There were excellent counts of 6 Brown Creepers and 15 Golden-crowned Kinglets, many of which were frequenting suet feeders and found by feeder-watchers, who play an important role in getting an accurate count. To avoid counting the same birds over and over, for each species they report the largest number that were seen at the same time. This year's feeder-watchers included Kay Fairweather, Marilyn Harte, Jean Keskulla, Betty Meehan and Sylvia Willard.

Altogether 1,799 individual birds were located, down from 1,922 last year and the lowest since 1997. Observers this year were D'Ann and Tom Brownrigg, Eric and Margaret Darling, Susan Emmons, Ken Harte (Carlisle coordinator), Lyn Oleksiak, Don and Greg Southall, Steve Spang and Leslie Thomas.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito