by Tom and Jo Heindel

From dawn until almost dusk thirty observers covered the Owens Valley and the eastern Sierra canyons searching for all the birds they could find.The goal of the day was to have as much fun as possible which according to reports was successful but the information garnered surprised all who took part. Some interesting statistics: 165 different species were found totaling over 6300 individual birds; of the 165 species 127 were neotropical migrants, that is, birds who spend the winter in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean and migrate north to breed in Alaska, Canada, and North America; most common bird was the American Coot (460) followed too closely by the European Starling (368); and almost 250 observer hours were recorded. Each of these statistics set a new record because nothing like this had ever been attempted. Each town had a team and each town turned up some interesting birds that none of the other teams had. The Lone Pine team, made up of Judy Wickman, Mike Prather, Bob & Barb Toth, Pat & Carl Boyer, and Shawn Morrison, had a Common Moorhen, Northern Pygmy-Owl, White-headed Woodpecker, Pinyon Jay, Summer Tanager, and a Harris’ Sparrow that no other team saw. The Independence team, made up of Leah & Andrew Kirk and Larry Nahm, were the only ones to find a Green Heron, Blue Grouse, Lesser Nighthawks, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and a Le Conte’s Thrasher. The Big Pine team, made up of Jo & Tom Heindel, Earl & Carolyn Gann, Penny Ashworth, Stan Kleinman, and Sam Glasser, were the only ones to see Western & Clark’s Grebes, Double-crested Cormorants, a Bufflehead, Golden Eagle, Snowy Plover,Least Sandpiper,Greater Roadrunner,Calliope Hummingbirds, Red-naped Sapsucker, Dusky Flycatchers, White-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, American Dipper, Sage Thrasher, and a dozen Solitary Vireos. The Bishop team, made up of Jim & Debby Parker, Larry & Ruth Blakely, John & Dee Finkbeiner, Chris Howard, Barry & Bonnie Howard, and Kathy Duvall were the only ones to find Snowy Egrets, Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Black Tern, Downy Woodpeckers, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Bank Swallow, Canyon Wrens, Black-and-white Warbler, and aVesper Sparrow. The bad news is that we found 176 Brown-headed Cowbirds. Some quick math. If half were females and each female lays 30 eggs this season (the accepted average) 2,640 cowbird eggs were laid. Assuming some cowbird mortality, although it seems to be lower than one could hope for, 2,600 passerines like Willow Flycatcher, Yellow Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-breasted Chat, etc. were not raised this year. How many more years can this go on? All the participants are ready to do it again next year. Why don’t you plan on joining us and have one of the most enjoyable and exhausting days of your life!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To conserve and restore natural ecosystems.