36 observed species eclipses longstanding record of 35

    The 48th annual Crookston Christmas Bird Count held on Saturday, Dec. 14 was a record breaker.   Volunteer compiler Tom Feiro thanks the 22 individuals who braved the brutal cold or watched their bird feeders.  

    The Christmas Bird Count is coordinated by the National Audubon Society and the Minnesota Ornithologist Union. The volunteers counted birds in a designated 15-mile diameter circle southeast of Crookston and in the community.

    Records were broken this year; first and foremost was the total number of species. Thirty-six different species were observed, breaking the long-standing record of 35.  Other notable records included individual species records: 39 Downy Woodpeckers, 41 Hairy Woodpeckers, 130 Black-capped Chickadees, and the 4 Red-bellied Woodpeckers tied its record. One new species found this year was a lone Brown Thrasher at Oakdale Cemetery in Crookston.  An avid birding couple from the Twin Cities was in the area on Dec. 12 looking for birds to add to their life lists and discovered the possible Brown Thrasher at the cemetery. They alerted John Loegering and Feiro, and on Saturday it was spotted briefly during the count day, and then a follow-up visit on Monday confirmed it with a number of photographs taken by Leon Thoreson. A Brown Thrasher in this area in the winter is certainly an unusual sighting.

    In all, 1,026 individual birds were observed during the count.  

    The high for the day was only -6 degrees. The seven teams that went out in to the rural sections of the count circle in the morning were greeted with a spectacular sun dog display, Feiro notes. It’s not easy spotting birds in the rural area; one team only found two species representing 17 individual birds in the four hours they were out. Again, the number of people feeding birds through the winter has drastically declined over the years.  To emphasize the importance of winter feeding of birds, this year’s count can attribute at least 14 species that were recorded only at a handful of active feeders at homes and in Oakdale Cemetery.

    The complete list of species recorded this year included: Sharp-tailed Grouse, Greater Prairie Chicken, Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Merlin, Northern Shrike, Blue Jay, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Brown Thrasher, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Snow Bunting, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Brewer’s Blackbird, House Finch, Purple Finch, Common Redpoll, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow and Wild Turkey.  

    Thanks to this year’s participants: Phil Baird – Fisher; Jeff Bell – East Grand Forks, Gladwin Lynne – Warren; Emily Hutchins – Mentor; Leon and Donna Thoreson – Climax; and from Crookston, Jerry and Heidi Fenno, Mike Christopherson, Dan Svedarsky, Loren Johnson, Jess and Dalton Primus, John and Lisa Loegering, Kim and Tom Feiro, and a special thanks to the four present UMC students and one alum. The students were: Kimie Shiozawa from Tokyo, Japan; Gina Myerchin from Blairstown, New Jersey; Amor Dozal from Caldwell, Idaho; Jaeden McFarland from Stillwater, Minnesota; and alum Jake Butcher from Palmer, Alaska.