423,874

Today we closed another chapter on another great longshore flight season.  It’s been a rewarding year all around.  Today’s flight ended almost like it began, with an Eastern Meadowlark.  5,302 birds went past today, and like it’s been lately Cedar Waxwings again made up the vast majority of them (5,143).

Best birds of the day were 4 lingering Common Loons off the beach pavilion, 3 Spotted Sandpipers, 5 Red Crossbills, and 10 Pine Siskins.

Add them all together and you have 423,874 individual birds counted from this dune top since March 1.  Whew!  We owe some major accolades to our counter, Brendan Grube, who day after day braved the elements to log these birds.  The list of helpers who came up, whether an hour or a day, is also notable.  These folks helped in overwhelming conditions where many birds likely went past without eyes on them.  We’ll post another update with some specific totals and a comparison with the 2012 count, but the tentative total looks to be 216 species.  23 species were represented by only one bird.  Who led the pack?

2013 Top Twenty List 
1) Red-winged Blackbird 193374
2) Common Grackle 58579
3) American Robin 35593
4) Cedar Waxwing 31057
5)Blue Jay 19301
6) Sandhill Crane 10880
7) Ring-billed Gull 10852
8) European Starling 9987
9) Red-breasted Merganser 5184
10) American Goldfinch 5176
11) Brown-headed Cowbird 4954
12) Yellow-rumped Warbler 4317
13) Tree Swallow 3628
14) Pine Siskin 3193
15) Canada Goose 2461
16) Chimney Swift 2275
17) Mourning Dove 1828
18) Northern Flicker 1600
19) Eastern Kingbird 1534
20) Barn Swallow 1173

It can be argued over what the best bird of the season was.  Obviously new tower records are noteworthy given the history of the site and the many eyes and hours already spent birding here.  Thus, having Black Vulture, Marsh Wren, and Henslow’s Sparrow added to the official list in one year is spectacular.  Perhaps the trump bird would be the Swallow-tailed Kite seen on May 18.  It’s being wondered now if this may be the same individual bird being observed in Lafayette right now.  

This Swallow-tailed Kite in Lafayette could possibly be the same bird we observed from the platform on May 18, 2013.  Photo by John Kendall.
This Swallow-tailed Kite in Lafayette could possibly be the same bird we observed from the platform on May 18, 2013. Photo by John Kendall.

Later in the coming days we’ll highlight the best birds of the year and compare with how we did in 2012.  Until then, we’ll also keep blogging great breeding birds through the summer, keep promoting birding in the dunes, and maybe even give hints to a new birding workshop series to come in the future!

For now, here’s a flash back photo!  It was this water tower that started it all.  Now gone, construction continues on the current birding platform.  With some luck and good engineering, we’ll be up top the new tower for the 2014 count.

The old water tower sits today where the longshore flight count takes place.
The old water tower sits today where the longshore flight count takes place.

Happy Birding!

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One thought on “423,874”

  1. Thank you for all your hard work and time on this project. It has been very interesting to me, since I did not know you kept track until mid season. I knew of the Duluth, MN location and have been there, but not of the In Dunes. Thanks again. Jane Papsdorf

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