Peregrine Falcon

Northern California’s Christmas Bird Counts started out with a bang this year. Saturday, December 14th, the first day of the 114th Christmas Bird Count, 27 enthusiastic counters had unseasonably warm and sunny weather to count 21,695 birds for the Fall River Mills Christmas Bird Count.

The final tally for this thirty year old count circle was 123 species. There has been a high count of 130 species in the past with an average species count of 115 and lows of 95 species on two occasions.

Super rare birds were (click on photos for full sized images):

  • 17 Dunlin seen in 3 different areas (5th time on the count)
  • 1 California Gull (6th time on the count)
  • 1 Saw-whet Owl (4th time on the count)
  • 1 Sage Thrasher (2nd time on the count)

Sage Thrasher

  • 2 White-throated Sparrow (6th time on the count)
  • 6 Great-tailed Grackle (3rd time on the count)

Great-tailed Grackle Female

There were also new high counts of the following species:

  • Green-winged Teal 412 birds with a previous high of 237

Green-winged Teal Drake

  • Hooded Merganser 174 birds with a previous high of 110

Hooded Merganser Drake

  • Golden Eagle 8 birds with a previous high of 7
  • Eurasian Collared Dove 258 birds with a previous high of 166 (not unexpected)

Count Period birds that were not seen on the day of the count were:

  • Long-tailed Duck
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Loggerhead Shrike

Some of the good birds we spotted in the Fall River Mills area were:

  • Tundra Swans – 5

Tundra Swan

  • Redhead
  • Greater Scaup
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye

Barrow's Goldeneye Drake

  • Mountain Quail
  • Ring-necked Pheasant (absent in recent years)
  • Wild Turkey
  • Turkey Vulture (really – generally not here in winter!)
  • 2 Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk seen in two different areas
  • Rough-legged Hawk dark morph (lots of Roughies this year)

Rough-legged Hawk Dark Morph

  • 2+ Merlin
  • Long-billed Dowitcher
  • Short-eared Owl
  • White-headed Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker Male

  • 2 Northern Shrikes (1 adult & 1 immature)

Northern Shrike

  • Canyon Wren
  • Pacific (Winter) Wren
  • Varied Thrush
  • Tri-colored Blackbird
  • 6 Yellow-headed Blackbirds

Yellow-headed Blackbird Male

  • 4 Cassin’s Finches
  • 2 Red Crossbill
  • Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak Male

Thanks to Bob Yutzy, Fall River Christmas Bird Count Compiler, for the great historical report! You still have until Sunday to join a Christmas Bird Count in your area. I guarantee you will have fun and see a lot of birds too!

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.