New Species Observed at Barr Lake Count

By January 22, 2015Event, Partners

Despite -10 degree weather, 34 volunteers fanned out across the Barr Lake State Park area of Colorado for the annual Barr Lake Christmas Bird Count on Jan. 4, 2015. The hardy birders were rewarded with high counts for three species and a new species for the count.

Christmas Bird Counts are held each winter throughout the Americas between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5. This winter was the 115th season for the counts, which provide one of the longest-running records of bird population trends. Each count covers a 15-mile diameter circle, and volunteers head out by foot, car and any other useful means of transportation to count birds within the area. Counts are sponsored annually by the National Audubon Society and supported locally by Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory.

Say's Phoebe

Say’s Phoebe by Bill Schmoker (photo not taken during count)

In the Barr Lake circle, counts of 12,288 Cackling Geese and 17,870 Canada Geese were new highs for these species. A count of 25 Hooded Mergansers reported by volunteers Bill Kaempfer, David Dowell, Gwen Moore and Pam Piombino was also a new high. Kaempfer’s group, covering a section of the South Platte River, found the only new species for the Barr Lake count, a Say’s Phoebe (pictured). This small flycatcher, depending on bugs for sustenance, is usually found farther south during winter months.

At the Barr Lake Nature Center, Chris Blakeslee, Megan Miller, Deb Wingfield and Cathy Sheeter watched a Chukar among the hundred or so birds scrambling for seeds at the feeders. Unfortunately, this chunky partridge could not be included in the count because it was a released bird, the sole survivor of six Chukars released during 2014.

In addition to teams led by Blakeslee and Kaempfer, six other teams were led by Paul Slingsby, Doug Kibbe, Elena Klaver, Gregg Goodrich, Jared Del Rosso and John Breitsch. Together, they recorded 53,259 individual birds of 74 species in the count circle. Ann Troth took these great photos during the count:

Bald Eagle

A Bald Eagle perches in a tree near Barr Lake during the count. Photo by Ann Troth.

Ferruginous Hawk

A Ferruginous Hawk devours a Jack Rabbit. The hawk was counted; the rabbit was not. Photo by Ann Troth.

Western Meadowlark

A Western Meadowlark is a colorful sight during a winter count. Photo by Ann Troth.

Red-tailed Hawk

A Red-tailed Hawk keeps an eye on volunteers during the Barr Lake count. Photo by Ann Troth.

Thank you, Ann, for sharing the photos. And thank you to all who turned out to make this a successful count.

~ Chuck Hundertmark, Compiler, Barr Lake Christmas Bird Count