Christmas Bird Count returns

A rare Woodhouse’s scrub jay visits photographer Elizabeth Boehm’s feeder.

PINEDALE – The Christmas Bird Count is a nice winter tradition that adds depth to the Audubon Society’s annual survey of a wide variety of birds and waterfowl that thrive around town.

This year’s Christmas Bird Count took place on Sunday, Jan. 3, with Elizabeth Boehm observing and compiling reports from two dozen walkers, skiers and slow drivers from sunup to sundown. Another 10 volunteers counted while watching their bird feeders, which were well attended on the mild day with light snow.

“Birdfeeders brought in a number of species along with a few good flocks that helped bring up the tally,” Boehm said.

In all, they spotted 1,799 birds of 48 different species – from three trumpeter swans to eight golden and eight bald eagles to six American goldfinches. Not surprisingly, well-stocked feeders and open water drew many smaller bird flocks including 651 house sparrows, 311 gray-crowned rosy finches and 119 black-capped chickadees – as well as the ever-present 253 black-billed magpies and 106 common ravens.

Kelly Ravner counted the most birds that day – 191. Trisha Scott and Emi Demoto-Reilly counted the most species at 19.

“Overall considering the few birds folks had been seeing, we did really well this year,” Boehm said.

The “most unusual bird” was the Woodhouse’s scrub jay, spotted by Jeanene Esterholt. It is so unusual there isn’t a category for it on her tally sheet, Boehm said.

“Along with the scrub jay, we also had a varied thrush, still hanging out at my birdfeeder, and Harris's sparrows. All three are unusual birds for Sublette County.”