We had the Christmas bird count in our county this past Saturday. Due to the inclement weather on count day this year, the overall numbers of both species and total birds were low compared to past counts. We have had as many as 64 species in a given year and this year only 39. To say that it rained was an understatement! At times it poured, so the only happy birds were the ducks!
Not only has the weather affected the annual count, but so has the human population- or lack thereof! As far as I know I am the only one on our small island still maintaining bird feeders. Due to some of the residents migrating south themselves, there is a lack of feeders. Also we have been threatened with rats, something unheard of here, so people have abandoned the feeding of our winged friends.
Perhaps most exciting for me and my two companion counters, were the nine bald-eagles seen right over the car as we drove. They circled over us for 5 minutes and headed for some wooded area we could not approach. Not sure if the message went out that some animal had expired, or it was an out of county convention. But it was breathtaking!
Other than a low count , we are noticing a rapid decline of our song birds, as well as ducks. In past years I would put feed out before Mass for the birds and perhaps 50+ would show up- Now I am lucky to have 15, even on the sunniest of mornings. One of our island birders told me she has noticed the same situation. There are all kinds of theories as to what is going on, global warming being at the top of the list, as well as loss of habitat.
On Sunday, a beautiful cold but very sunny day, we decided to check out the birds again only to find most of the ducks had fled- so in spite of the very bad weather the day before, the ducks were happy.
I am glad I did the counts when I saw so many bird species, and I feel for future birders who will only see some species in books- which is what has happened the world over, especially in my beloved