Here is the moment you have been waiting for- the results of the WPBO 2017 Birdathon are in! The WPBO staff, along with our good friend and volunteer Elliot Nelson scoured Chippewa County last Saturday the 27th for as many species of birds as we could find to raise money for the research programs here at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Picking a date to run Birdathon is always tricky as the species diversity we depend on for generating a big total is highly dependent on the weather and the amount of incoming migrants to the area the night before. So we hmm’d and haw’d and consulted the auguries (Weather Underground I mean…) and decided that the forecast of south winds and incoming warm frontal system without too much wet weather associated with it was going to be our best bet. The day before had seen a prefrontal movement of songbirds in- it all looked very promising for good migration!
Except as it turned out, it was the wrong kind of migration! It was the kind of migration that sent birds away but brought no replacements to us! The day started very promising with Chris and Nova banding several Northern Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls as well as Elliot finding what would be the bird of the day, a singing Nelson’s Sparrow in the marsh at Munuscong Bay! However as Louie and Skye were soon to discover, there were very few migrants at the Point itself. Louie maintained his count at the beach while Skye & Gary headed into the bog country of Tahquamenon Falls State Park to try and dig out boreal breeding species. Luck was with them at first as they quickly bumped into a Spruce Grouse, the only one of the day. A few more northern bog birds were encountered like the only Palm and Canada Warblers of the day but it was time to get the hawk count started so Gary headed back to the Point. The Hawk Deck had a modest selection of raptors, and late in the day a pair of Red Crossbills flew over. Out at the beach, there were hardly any waterbirds flying by, but a handful of shorebirds were present and Louie snagged a Red-headed Woodpecker!
Not only our only one of these handsome birds for the day, but it ended up being the only one this entire field season. Surprisingly, neither the Red-bellied or Black-backed Woodpeckers that had been around the last few days could be foundBut as the day went along, and we kept digging and digging, birds kept finding themselves on our big day list. Elliot did rather well in the farm country of eastern Chippewa, tallying in such goodies like Sharp-tailed Grouse, Upland Sandpiper and Le Conte’s Sparrow, while the WPBO staff ended up getting treated to a big Whimbrel flight at dusk with hundreds of these arctic nesting curlews migrating by.
In all, we were pleasantly surprised to tally in 152 species, only four less than last year’s total. Not bad and a testimony to how birdy Chippewa County is even on a “slow day”. We all had fun with it, and although we had visions of multi-species warbler flocks dancing in the jack pines before us, getting to end the count with a big Whimbrel movement was a great way to cap the day. I’m just left with one question- how on earth did we not get a White-crowned Sparrow?! They were present at the feeders every day for two weeks before Birdathon, and showed right back up the next day through the end of the season. What’cha gonna do? But I do want to give a mighty thank you to everyone who donated to Birdathon, and your contribution is valuable to supporting the research projects here at Whitefish Point Bird Observatory! And of course, if you wanted to contribute, but never got around to it, it’s still not too late! You can visit here to make a contribution. Again thank you for all the support!
And of course the list of birds seen.
|26||Great Blue Heron|
|63||Northern Saw-whet Owl|
|80||Great Crested Flycatcher|
|123||Black-throated Blue Warbler|
|126||Black-throated Green Warbler|
|128||Le Conte’s Sparrow|