by Will Cook
The 43rd Chapel Hill spring bird count on 5/14/2000 was a little below average in number of species (120), probably due to the late date, but, thanks to a high level of participation, we had our second highest count of individual birds ever (11242). Our best birds included a female Anhinga seen soaring high near Jordan Lake by Steve Graves (only the second record on a Chapel Hill spring count), an Olive-sided Flycatcher seen at Mason Farm by Will Cook (our fourth record), a very late Brown Creeper well described by Bobbie Wilkerson, a Wilson's Warbler seen at Mason Farm by Will Cook (our fifth record). Other birds that we usually miss included 4 Wild Turkeys, a Chuck-will's- widow, and 2 Canada Warblers.
The number of parties and party-hours was the highest in years, so we set a large number of record highs. The count of 87 Great Blue Herons shattered the record of 23 from last year. Boosting the number was our first ever heronry, which had 18 active nests, found on Cub Creek in Chatham County by Alan Johnston and Edith Tatum. The count of 43 Red- shouldered Hawks blasted past the old record of 28 set in 1997, thanks in part to Alan Johnston's neighborhood family of five. The 27 Song Sparrows more than doubled the old record of 13, because of their increased use of urban habitats such as shopping mall parking lots, where they formerly were absent. Other record highs were set for Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Canada Goose, Mallard, Killdeer, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Pine Warbler, Summer Tanager, Northern Cardinal, and Indigo Bunting.
A few species were seen in unusually low numbers. The count of 55 Barn Swallows was our lowest since 1974, far below the mean of 96. Because of the late date we only found 4 Black-throated Blue Warblers (mean 31), and 4 Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers (lowest ever; mean 163), and 3 White- throated Sparrows (ties record low; mean 66). Field Sparrows were also scarce, with only 21 (lowest since 1969; mean 43).
Detailed Results (PDF format)
Chapel Hill Bird Club