“Unity’s Birds – Enjoy Them Year-Round.”

Unity Christmas Bird Count 2017

The 21th annual Unity Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was held on Saturday, December 16. The weather was a gift for mid-December with sunny conditions and relatively balmy temperatures. Winds were mild out of the northwest. Early morning temperature recordings ranged from four to sixteen degrees, then rose up into the high twenties by afternoon. Nearly all water bodies were frozen, although the east side of Unity Pond had open water far out from shore.

Thirteen parties got into the field to search for birds, although most groups counted for less than half the day. Only two parties briefly looked and listened for owls in the pre-dawn hours. Thirty-three observers contributed to count totals either by getting into the field or recording birds at their feeders. Field participation was higher than average, but feeder watchers were down this year. The final accounting of birds amounted to 45 species, with 3808 individual birds tallied. In addition, four additional species were found during count week which were not recorded on the count day. Bird species, total birds, and count participants numbers were nearly average for recent years.

The Sebasticook Regional Land Trust (SRLT) continued to act as the local sponsor for the count. Thanks to the hospitality of Jean Bourg, we gathered after the count at 93 Main St. to share stories over pizza and beverages. Several first-timers mingled with long-time veterans to report bird sightings and rewarding experiences that were enjoyed during the day.

Two new bird species for the count were observed. The first Unity CBC confirmed Winter Wren was found at Carlton Pond while the observers were counting a group of bluebirds and robins. Soon afterwards, the same team found a lingering Ruby-crowned Kinglet just south of that site in Troy. Other highlights included only the second time that Chipping Sparrow and Lesser Black-backed Gull were tallied on count day. Two Rusty Blackbird, nine Horned Lark and two Northern Saw-whet Owl were also notable sightings. The junco and Bald Eagle counts more than doubled last year’s record highs. The latter is due mostly to the increasing number that scavenge salmon skins at Kinney’s compost. A record low count was established for chickadees, which quantified anecdotal observations regarding lower numbers of birds using feeders this fall. Winter finch numbers were only notable by their absence. Otherwise, individual numbers of most species were unremarkable.

Mammals recorded incidentally on the count included a high number of gray squirrels.

Thanks to all who participated. Our data contributes to the North American database for National Audubon Society’s CBC which is now in its 118th year. Hopefully next year the will be even more fun.

 

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