12 Great Backyard Bird Count: Year of the Siskin

Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society's 12th annual Great Backyard Bird Count had a record number of pine siskins and participants.  More than more than 93,600 checklists were submitted and identified 619 species. pine-siskins1

One of the big stories coming from the GBBC this year was the massive invasion of Pine Siskins and White-Winged Crossbills over much of the eastern United States.  According to the GBBC,  "These feisty little birds moved southward because of seed crop failures in their usual wintering grounds in Canada and the boreal forests. GBBC participants reported 279,469 pine siskins on 18,528 checklists, compared to the previous high of 38,977 birds on 4,069 checklists in 2005.

365418177v8_350x350_frontHey, check out this shirt design for the winter finch invasion that Magnificent Frigate Bird came up with.  You can see all the products available with the logo here.  I love birders with a sense of humor.

White-winged crossbills were not as common, but their invasion was still impressive with 4,824 birds on 589 checklists representing a new record over the previous high of 2,854 birds on 135 checklists in 2007."

In downer news, the GBBC showed continuing declines in some common birds, like loggerhead shrike.  However some species that have been in decline like northern bobwhites and eastern meadowlarks were both up slightly from last year.  Though an increase is positive, their numbers are still lower than they were in 2004.

Species reported for the first time during the GBBC included two oceanic species--Pink-footed Shearwater and Xantus's Murrelet, both in California. Other first-timers included Baird's Sandpiper, Black-billed Cuckoo, and Blackpoll Warbler. Two rare Mexican species appeared on GBBC checklists from Arizona for the first time: the first Sinaloa Wren ever found north of the border, and a Blue Mockingbird.

For a more detailed summary of this year's results, visit the GBBC website.  You can explore 2009 data, compare with other years, and find the exact counts for each species in a particular state, province, or town.

If you didn't participate this year, you can sign up next year to be part of this big count. The next Great Backyard Bird Count is February 15-18, 2010!

Top 10 most-frequently reported birds in the 2009 GBBC: 1)   Northern Cardinal 2)   Mourning Dove 3)   Dark-eyed Junco 4)   American Goldfinch 5)   Downy Woodpecker 6)   Blue Jay 7)   House Finch 8)   Tufted Titmouse 9)   American Crow 10) Black-capped Chickadee