The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 9, 2009


Carlisle Sector of Concord Christmas Bird Count, 2008


Kay Fairweather of School Street fills her bird feeders. (Photo by Mollie McPhee Ho)

The 49th Concord Christmas Bird Count was held on January 4, 2009. The weather was about as good as can be expected for January, with mid-day temperatures in the 30s, sunny skies, and very little wind.


Carlisle birders found three species that had never been seen on previous Carlisle counts. Greg Southall flushed a shorebird, identified by Don Southall as a Wilson’s Snipe, from a wetland near River Road. Alan Ankers found two Yellow-rumped Warblers in a red cedar at Towle Field, and Eric Darling found another Yellow-rump near South Street. Last but not least, a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker agreed to stay around Leslie Thomas and Katherine Endicott’s house on Estabrook Road until the day of the count. (See the Carlisle Mosquito, November 21, 2008.) At the countdown for the entire Concord Count circle, we learned that Carlisle’s Wilson’s Snipe and Red-headed Woodpecker were the only ones seen, although two other Yellow-rumped Warblers were found in Concord. Mary Zoll reported seeing an unusually late Great Blue Heron at her pond during the count week. Although not a “new” bird for the count, this was only the fifth Great Blue Heron since 1973.

In decline?

Again this year, no Canada Geese were seen, and only nine Herring Gulls (33 last year). For Canada Geese, we might need to petition National Audubon Society for a “bulge” in the count circle to include the State Park (just kidding). Despite large flocks of Wild Turkeys frequently seen in Carlisle earlier this year, none were seen on count day. No owls were seen or heard on count day, although Ken Harte heard a Great Horned Owl calling near their backyard the evening of January 2. The counters saw 12 Red-tailed Hawks, compared with nine last year. Two accipiters, a Cooper’s Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk were also seen.

Only 93 Blue Jays were found, compared to 179 last year, a five-year low for this species. American Crows were sparse too, just 21 this year versus 33 last. The Carlisle CBC data shows a notable decrease in crow numbers after 2000, probably due to West Nile Virus. No Common Ravens were found, although they were seen in Carlisle in December, and small numbers were seen on count day in other count circle towns. Only 13 European Starlings were seen, a new low. However, if you like starlings, don’t despair; there are plenty at the State Park.

On the increase?

Some good news for Eastern Bluebird lovers: a total of 41 bluebirds were found, compared with only 12 last year. In fact, this year’s total set a new record. From what we have seen and heard, bluebirds might be discovering the joy of bird feeders. American Robins were fairly numerous (51) but far below the record number (533 in 2002). American Goldfinches are doing well, thanks to bird feeders; counters saw 242 this year, almost twice as many as last year. Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker and Red-bellied Woodpecker numbers were similar to last year. These species also benefit from bird feeders.

It’s an irruption

This year was notable for an “irruption” of Pine Siskins, a more northerly species that normally eats conifer seeds. When the seed crop fails, they fly south in search of food. Many people saw siskins at their feeders this year, often with goldfinches, which they resemble. Another irruptive species, Common Redpoll, was far less numerous. Just one redpoll was seen during the count period (by Ken Harte on January 1, along Indian Hill Road), whereas 26 were reported last year.

The birding team

Many thanks to all who participated in this year’s count. The observers were Alan Ankers, D’Ann and Tom Brownrigg, Margaret and Eric Darling, Susan and Don Emmons, Margaret Read, Elisabeth and Katherine Sorrows, Don and Greg Southall, Steve Spang, and Leslie Thomas. The feeder watchers were Cecile DeRouin, Kay Fairweather, Ken and Marilyn Harte, Jean Keskulla, Betty Meehan, Nina Nielsen, Tom Raftery, and Sylvia Willard. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito