PinellasBirds.com

LAST MONTH'S REPORT
SUMMARY of the 2014
ST. PETERSBURG CBC

    Anytime the St. Petersburg CBC reaches the 150+ plateau for species seen during a Christmas Bird Count it means the participants did a really good job. An outstanding job, really.
This year, under favorable weather conditions the count tallied 156 ABA-countable species.  The best bird of the CBC was a Yellow-breasted Chat found at Maximo Park by Eric & Pete Plage.  The species with the most bodies counted was Fish Crow with 10,139.
    Seventeen species of ducks were tallied (including Muscovy) with the expected Lesser Scaup (1785) being the most numerous and new high total counts tallied for Greater Scaup (40) in which a flock of 38 were photographed by Bay Pines and Ring-necked Duck (525). Other duck highlights were the continuing male Common Goldeneye at Lake Maggiore, two Bufflehead, 58 Ruddy Ducks, 3 Northern Pintails and 12 Canvasbacks.  Low were the 9 Common Loons, but high was the 270 Pied-billed Grebes.
    210 Wood Storks was a nice total as was the 11 Northern Gannets recorded off the beaches and the number of Brown Pelicans (695).  Two American Bitterns were found as were a record number of Least Bitterns (17), perhaps due to the warmer than usual winter up to that point.
    All of the wading birds were represented with average to above-average numbers, with the 42 Green Herons representing an outstanding new count record!  Glossy Ibis rarely makes the St. Pete CBC, but one showed up just before the count and stayed for count day in one of the ponds along 28th Street.  A King Rail was a surprise find by the Gagne/Fisher team and the 2250 American Coots (most seen on Lake Maggiore) exceptional.
The 20 Limpkins recorded was one shy of the all-time mark.  No super numbers were recorded within the 19 species of shorebirds, but there were a couple of notable figures; American Oystercatcher 52, Black-necked Stilt 3, Wilson's Plover 5, Greater Yellowlegs 2, Whimbrel 1 and Marbled Godwit 91.  Missed this year was Lesser Yellowlegs.  Eleven Bonaparte's Gulls was a rather low total as was the 31 Herring Gulls.  Eight Lesser Black-backed Gulls was just shy of the record and 3 Great Black-backed Gulls was an expected total.  The Sandwich Tern total was higher than usual at 345.
    While the expected dove populations have remained steady within the circle for the most part, St. Pete's White-winged Dove population has been steadily increasing.  This year's total was a record 30.  Eastern Screech-Owls were well-represented with 134 recorded, but only three Great Horned Owls made the list and no Barn Owls. An immature Red-headed Woodpecker found by the Hughes/Hopkins team was photographed by Harris at the old Airco Golf Course.  Eleven Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers was a high number and so was the 76 Downy Woodpeckers.  Other woodpeckers:  Red-bellied (172), Northern Flicker (9) and Pileated (5).
All three of the expected falcons were seen: American Kestrel (23), Merlin (4) and Peregrine (1).  It's hard to gauge the parakeet population as the numbers jump around from year to year.  This year's totals were Monk (286), Nanday (271) and 4 uncountable Blue-crowneds.  I asked participants to pay special attention to Blue Jays this year and, boy, did they ever.  A new record 405 was recorded!  The high number of Fish Crows, mentioned above, was due to the extremely large roost at Bay Pines.  Tree Swallows (8) are always a plus on the St. Pete CBC with three teams reporting them.  Both Carolina Chickadee (5) and Tufted Titmouse (11) have shown a slight range expansion into the south end of the county the past few years.  Ten years ago finding either species on the CBC was a really big deal.  Twenty-two Carolina Wrens made themselves heard as did 71 House Wrens, 5 Sedge Wrens & 9 Marsh Wrens.
    Only 5 Ruby-crowned Kinglets were reported and 6 of the 9 Hermit Thrushes were at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. Just 4 American Robins were counted, but 14 Brown Thrashers was higher than usual.  Ten species of warblers made the CBC; Ovenbird (3), Black-&-white (32), Orange-crowned (3), Common Yellowthroat (81), Palm (1035), Pine (75), Yellow-rumped (945), Yellow-throated (13), Prairie (5) and, of course, the Yellow-breasted Chat.  A Northern Parulas made Count Week - having been seen two days before the count but not on count day.
    19 Eastern Towhees was a good final figure, as was the 74 Swamp Sparrows.  Other species in this group included Savannah (16), a Nelson's at Clam Bayou and Song (2).  Two Indigo Buntings were at the north end of the CBC circle and three Painted Buntings were on its west side.  Five Eastern Meadowlarks continue to hold on in Pinellas at the St. Pete/Clearwater Airport.  More than 100 House Finches come to roost each evening a couple of blocks north of Tropicana Field in downtown St. Pete, but no one was there to count them this year.  However, 22 still made the day's list.  Two other misses not mentioned above were Grasshopper Sparrow and Brown-headed Cowbird.
    We'll give it a go again next year.