2021 Bird Count

Every year Buenos Aires NWR participates in the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, a nationwide bird census which is the oldest avian database in the world.  Participants count all bird species and numbers seen within one day.

Save the date for this year – Thursday December 15!  Birders and nonbirders are welcome.  Contact bonnie.swarbrick@gmail.com for information or to sign up.  You don’t have to be a birder.  We welcome anyone who wants to spend a day outdoors enjoying wide open spaces of grassland or in riparian areas with towering cottonwoods.

The count for December 2021 tallied a total of 82 species.  Participants met at dawn and split into teams which covered 12 subareas of the count circle.  The 15-mile diameter circle includes most of the refuge grasslands and some areas east to Arivaca. 

The grasslands are populated with various species of confusing sparrows, cryptically colored to blend with their environment.  Sparrow numbers were surprisingly down at the Refuge and in other Arizona counts.  Commonly sighted were Mourning Doves and Gila Woodpeckers.  Mexican Jays, a nonmigratory bird, tied the refuge’s record high. White-winged Doves were at an all-time high for the refuge’s Christmas Bird Counts.  This species normally goes south for the winter.  Were they still here because of warming climate?  This question relates to the value of this annual nationwide census in showing trends and changes.

Three kinds of owls were seen:  Great Horned, Barn, and Western Screech.  Unusual or uncommonly sighted species were the Black-throated Gray Warbler, Baird’s Sparrow, and Sage Thrasher.  Another special sighting was the Belted Kingfisher, a bird which requires water areas to obtain fish for food.

We look forward to adding another chapter to the Christmas Bird Count history book this December!

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