The Great Backyard Bird Count has come and gone. Weather-wise, we had a pretty great weekend with some rain but generally temperatures above freezing throughout most of NJ. This meant that there was more open water for waterbirds and easier viewing conditions for observers. On the other hand, a little snow never hurts for attracting birds to the feeders which helped my personal count last year. Here are the highlights:
- As of today, New Jersey has submitted 2516 checklists with potentially more to come as the March 1 deadline approaches. This puts us 10th overall. Being the most densely populated state in the US, I think we can do better with more promotion. Then again, we didn't even crack the top 10 last year.
- We reported 162 species so far, more than any of the last 10 years.
- Looking at the distribution map for the state, it's clear that the # of checklists submitted is proportional to the # of people in that area of the state. The densely populated areas like the northeast, central NJ, and northern shore contributed many checklists while the pine barrens area and the coast of Delaware Bay contributed very little. While these areas are obviously less populated, they also include much more birding habitat and offer an opportunity for some promotion next year.
- Like many states, the most numerous birds reported were Snow and Canada Goose. In fact, we reported over 300,000 Snow Geese helping us be #1 in the total individual birds reported. The species reported most often were common yard birds like Mourning Dove and Northern Cardinal.
- Interestingly, out of 2500 checklists, only 966 reported House Sparrow and 766 reported European Starling. Does that mean that people are ignoring them? not able to identify them? just not seeing them?
- Once again we had tons of Red-headed Woodpeckers reported which mostly turned out to be Red-bellied Woodpeckers. We also had tons of Purple Finches reported. In this invasion year, it's been tough to filter through those records.
- We had some nice rarities and semi-hardy birds including 2 Baltimore Orioles, Barnacle Goose, Townsend's Solitaire, both Crossbills, Evening Grosbeak, 2 Osprey, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shrike, Palm Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Nice!
- I've looked at many of the checklists that are submitted and I was disappointed to not see the names of many of the birders I know in NJ. We had tons of reports over the weekend on our listserv, but few of those people reported birds for the GBBC. Does the term "backyard" make them think it's only for yard birds? Do they just not want to participate in another count?
- My town, Piscataway, submitted 20 checklists vs. 13 last year. But my original hometown submitted 0 this year and 7 last year! I really want to do more promotion next year. I think the GBBC is such an awesome way to get people looking at birds.
Did you participate? What observations do you have?