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Chapel Hill NC CBC results

The 1999 Chapel Hill Christmas Bird Count, held on December 26, was the 
highest count in years, even though many observers thought that "birds 
seemed scarce" that day and it started off cold and windy.  This is the 
69th Chapel Hill CBC -- the first one was in 1924 and it's been held 
annually since 1929.

This year's total of 88 species is the highest since 1990 and well above 
the average (for the past 10 years) of 81.   The only higher counts were 
in 1979-1984, when Jordan Lake was being created and filled (the northern 
end of Jordan Lake is in the Chapel Hill circle).  New to the count was 
Tom & Barbara Driscoll's immature male Rufous Hummingbird, identified and 
banded by Susan Campbell.  The other boldface bird was our third Merlin, 
seen at the Chapel Hill dump by Les Todd's party.  We had two species of 
ducks almost worthy of boldfacing -- 2 Northern Shovelers seen by Angelo 
Capparella and Betty King (3rd count record) and 4 Northern Pintail seen 
by Doug Shadwick (first since 1983).  Other goodies on the count include 3 
Ruddy Ducks (rare here), 18 Northern Bobwhite (often missed; highest count 
since 1984), 1 Herring Gull (first since 1994).  Two other species were 
reported, but didn't have enough details for what would be first count 

We had a fair showing of winter irruptives, including 6 Red-breasted 
Nuthatches, 1 Pine Siskin, 2 Evening Grosbeaks, and an excellent 59 Purple 
Finches (the highest since 1988).

The total of 17563 birds is well above the average count of 11906.  We set 
record highs with 90 White-breasted Nuthatches and 39 Winter Wrens and 
tied records with 28 Hairy Woodpeckers and 618 American Crows.  Other 
species well above average -- 103 Black Vulture (highest since 1977), 204 
Turkey Vulture, 126 Ring-necked Duck, 176 Red-bellied Woodpecker (2nd 
highest), 80 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2nd), 93 Downy Woodpecker, 1944 
Eur. Starling (highest since 1981), 793 Cedar Waxwing, 56 Fox Sparrow, 
1262 Red-winged Blackbird, 115 Rusty Blackbird, and 1669 Common Grackle.

The only species much lower than normal was Golden-crowned Kinglet -- the 
98 we found is less than half the average of 258.

Teams with highest totals: The team of Les Todd, Leto Copeley, and Bert 
Fisher had a great day, with the highest species total at 56 (with 1319 
birds), including the only Merlin, E. Meadowlark, Brown-headed Cowbirds, 
Pine Siskin, and Evening Grosbeaks of the count. They counted in the 
Homestead Road - Eubanks Road area in the northwestern part of town.  The 
Team of Will Cook and Randy Emmitt at Mason Farm had the highest number of 
birds, a total of 2517 (in 50 species), including 1230 Red-winged 
Blackbirds and more sparrows than you can shake a stick at.

Weather/Effort: 51 counters in 25 parties; 153 hours (104 foot, 49 car), 
534.5 miles (86.5 foot, 448 car); 25 feeder-hours; 1.5 hours and 2 miles 
owling.  (All above average.) Temperature 19-50 F; wind SW 10-15 mph; no 
snow; still water partly frozen, moving water open; clear; no 

You can find full count results on the Cornell web site: 

Charles W. "Will" Cook                w 919-660-7423
cwcook@acpub.duke.edu                 h 919-967-5446
Duke University Botany Dept., Durham, North Carolina