The 49th consecutive (and 66th overall) Moscow-Pullman Christmas Bird Count was 14 December 2019. We had 57 participants (breaking our previous high of 54 in 2018 and 2011) as part of 19 field teams and 14 feeder watchers who spent almost 53 hours driving 504 miles, 66 hours walking 72 miles, and almost 24 hours watching feeders. We tallied 72 species (plus 5 count week species) and 9,958 individuals. The number of species was a bit higher than our 10-year running average (68) while the number of individuals was below our 10-year running average (12,190). The dense fog that blanketed the count circle until well in the afternoon likely contributed to the overall low count. In 2017 we were also shrouded in fog and recorded about the same number of individuals.
We tallied two new count day species: TUNDRA SWAN (4 individuals) and PURPLE FINCH (female). Purple Finch was a Count Week species in 2015 and has been a winter visitor to the University of Idaho Arboretum three of the last four winters, where it was tallied this year.
New high-count records included 256 BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (238; 2018), 52 DARK-EYED (Slate-colored) JUNCO (47; 1991), and 3 WHITE-THROATED SPARROW (1; 2015, 2014, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994).
We tied our high-count records for CACKLING GOOSE (1; 2018, 2017, 2013, 2005, 1999, 1978), RING-NECKED DUCK (1; 2012), AMERICAN DIPPER (1; 2001, 1998), and HERMIT THRUSH (1; 1998).
Count-week species included ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD, STELLER’S JAY, CANADA JAY, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, and COMMON REDPOLL.
Last year was only the third year that we did not record BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS; this year was not much better, although we managed to tally 2 individuals. We failed to find any GRAY PARTRIDGE this year, the first year since 1995 we have not recorded this species; the lack of snow combined with thick fog made seeing this species difficult. Two BLACK-CAPPED X MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE hybrids were seen this year; their occurrence seems to be increasing.
Thanks to everyone who participated!
See you next year on December 19th as we celebrate our 50th consecutive count!