Last night the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club met for their regular monthly meeting, Christmas party and Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) results party. This was the 40th Wichita Falls CBC. Participants for part or all of the count were: Tammy Davis, Rick Folkening, Debra Halter, Jimmy Hoover, Sue King, Warren King, June McKee, Terry McKee, Bryan Miller, Penny Miller, and Chuck Theuson. The compiler for the CBC was Debra Halter.
Sue and Warren King were gracious hosts for the gathering in their home.
The CBC on Saturday, December 14, started out cold and blustery, which did have an impact on the birds seen. Overall, the count was about average for the number of species, but very low in terms of the numbers of individuals of each species seen.
The species seen included: Canada goose, cackling goose, gadwall, American wigeon, mallard, northern shoveler, northern pintail, green-winged teal, canvasback (countweek), ring-necked duck, lesser scaup, bufflehead, common goldeneye, hooded merganser, ruddy duck, pied-billed grebe, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, northern harrier, sharp-shinned hawk, Cooper's hawk (count week), red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, merlin, American coot, sandhill crane, killdeer, ring-billed gull, rock pigeon, Eurasian collared dove, white-winged dove, mourning dove, Inca dove, great horned owl, barred owl, belted kingfisher, red-bellied woodpecker, ladder-backed woodpecker, downy woodpecker, northern flicker, eastern phoebe, loggerhead shrike, blue jay, American crow, horned lark, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, black-crested titmouse, red-breasted nuthatch, Carolina wren, Bewick's wren, eastern bluebird, American robin, northern mockingbird, European starling, orange-crowned warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, spotted towhee, fox sparrow, song sparrow, Harris' sparrow, white-crowned sparrow, dark-eyed junco, northern cardinal, red-winged blackbird, eastern meadowlark, western meadowlark, Brewer's blackbird, common grackle, great-tailed grackle, brown-headed blackbird, house finch, American goldfinch, house sparrow.
In addition, the McKee's found a large flock of longspurs, but typically, the birds were too far away to make a positive identification as to species. I also had the good fortune to get an excellent look at a bobcat.
After compiling the count, the club members participated in a Chinese gift exchange. Overall, an enjoyable evening.
The next big event for birders will be the Big Day for Wild Bird Rescue, coming up on January 4. We are shooting for 100 species, which is considerably more than we found on the CBC. Why is that? First, the participants in our CBC don't stay out for 12 hours on their counts. The CBC is also limited in terms of geographical area--there are some good birding locations that aren't far from Wichita Falls that are outside of the count circle for the CBC. The Big Day team will visit those places. The last Big Day team drove more than double the miles all of the CBC teams logged. The CBC also tends to be more leisurely. The Big Day team knows it is out to raise money and to do that, they must find as many species of birds as possible in the time they have--so they don't spend much time just appreciating the birds (which is unfortunate, but a fact of life.)
I hope you'll take time to participate as a birder on one of the teams (it looks like we may be able to field more than one team this year) and/or contribute to the team. After all, as much as the team members love to bird, this is an exhausting event and the goal is to raise as much money as possible for our local organization. Not only does Wild Bird Rescue rescue, rehabilitate and release wild birds, but they provide educational programs to thousands of people annually--many of you have met their Avian Ambassadors around the community. If you would like to bird or would like to contribute, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.