Re: Putah Creek Christmas Bird Count 2020 Summary


Thanks for the update Steve!

Sarah Mayhew

On Jan 24, 2021, at 3:41 PM, Steve Hampton <stevechampton@...> wrote:

The 50th Putah Creek Christmas Bird Count was held on December 20, 2020 under strict Covid protocol. Area leaders sought to cover all usual routes with teams of one to two local experienced birders only. Thus, the count was essentially closed to the public. No carpooling was allowed and social distancing was required.


Clear and calm weather made for a long and enjoyable counting day, ultimately tallying 143 species. 


As expected, the total number of participants was low, only 55 compared to the usual 85. The count was successful in covering all the usual routes, as evidenced by 206 party hours, the third highest total ever. This high number was largely driven by an extraordinary effort in Area 6, whose 38 party hours eclipsed the historical average of 13.


We traveled 121 miles on foot, a record high, and 171 miles by car.  The early hours were marked by 16.4 hours of owling, also a record high. 


There was one new species found on the count: a Black-throated Sparrow that was known to be over-wintering at a private residence in Area 4 (Yolo County).


Record high counts were set for seven species.  These were: Virginia Rail (7), Great-horned Owl (95), Anna's Hummingbird (262), Black Phoebe (252), Common Raven (450), White-breasted Nuthatch (236), and White-crowned Sparrow (3,011).


Many of the record high counts continue increasing trends among insectivores and fructivores, correlated with warmer winters and a lack of overnight freezes. Yellow-billed Magpies rebounded to their highest total since 2011, though still below pre-West Nile Virus numbers, especially when adjusted for party hours.


For the second year in a row, the only all-time low record was for Brewer's Blackbird (370).


Thanks to all the area leaders for assembling thorough coverage under pandemic conditions. We hope next year we can invite all birders and birders-to-be and finish the day with the comradery of a potluck.   

Steve Hampton
Davis, CA

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