Look out for tagged gulls

On the Prince George's County Mid-Winter Count, Jeff Shenot and I found a tagged adult Ring-billed Gull at the Brown Station Road Landfill (entry by permission only). It had two circular yellow tags, one attached to either inner wing. There were no bands or other identifying marks. We learned the following from Thomas W. Seamans, Wildlife Biologist, USDA/Wildlife Services/National Wildlife Research Center-Ohio Field Station after reporting the find to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Bird Banding Lab:

"The gull was tagged in Chicago in May 2007. We marked a total of 724 gulls in the Chicago area with either orange (150 tags), green (202 tags), blue (222 tags) or yellow (150) wing tags. We do have a good idea of where ring-billed gulls from the Great Lakes region winter but this information will give us some additional information on the Chicago gulls. Also, I am especially interested to learn if there is a reporting difference between the 4 tag colors that we applied. Should you spot any other tagged birds we would appreciate learning of their location."

Please let the bird banding lab http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/ know if you observe any of these tagged gulls. The tags tend to stick out from the body and are fairly visible.

Sue Ricciardi, Arnold, MD


2007 Christmas Count Has Record Year!

The Caroline County Bird Club, a chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, held its annual Christmas Bird Count on the 15th of December. On the count day birders try to count every bird in an area that’s a circle 15 miles in diameter with the center of the circle at the spot where Piney Branch enters the Choptank, roughly across the river from North Caroline High School. The inevitable question is, “How do the counters know that they’re not counting the same bird someone else counted.” When the results are tabulated there is an attempt to avoid counting the same birds twice. A few years ago there was an Osprey in the count area, a common bird in the summer but very rare in the winter. It was reported three times but counted only once.

The Denton Count, as it is called, is one of the oldest on the Shore having started in 1950 when Roberta & Jerry Fletcher, Marvin Hewitt and Anna May Thompson went out and counted 45 birds. The idea of the Christmas Count started in 1900 when a small group of people in the newly formed Audubon Society proposed a day of bird counting during the holidays as an alternative to the 19th Century tradition of choosing up sides and going out and shooting as many birds as they could and then comparing the piles of dead birds to determine a winner. At the time the Audubon Society couldn’t conceive of how effective sporting events on TV would be in accomplishing the same purpose.

There are now 2000 Christmas Counts conducted all across North and Central America and the number of participants has grown to over 60,000. The Denton Count has been held every Holiday Season since 1950 and this year it had 20 participants and they reported a record number of 101 species. The previous record was 97 in 1999 and many doubted the count could ever reach the magical number of 100.

To get as many as 100 species conditions have to be just right and you can’t miss many birds that are not rare but aren’t that common and could very easily be missed. Birds like the Brown Thrasher, Catbird, Wilson Snipe, Fox Sparrow, Fish Crow, Woodcock, Pine Warbler, and Rusty Blackbirds are not seen every year, but they all made an appearance this year. In addition to seeing most of the birds that you could hope to expect, there were also a good many rarer birds sighted. The only bird that had never been on the Count before was the Golden Eagle. The count was also helped by an influx of northern birds that usually don’t make it down this far south. These included a Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, and four Saw-whet Owls. Red-breasted Nuthatches, another northern bird, while not as rare, are being seen in large numbers as anyone who feeds sunflower seeds can attest to.

Other unusual birds included a Ross’s Goose and Cackling Geese. The Ross’s Goose looks like a Snow Goose but is closer in size to a Mallard and the Cackling Goose looks like a miniature Canada Goose. There was a Lapland Longspur and a Snow Bunting seen in the open barren fields that they prefer. A single Vesper Sparrow was observed, a grassland bird that used to be fairly common in Caroline County but is quite rare today. A King Rail and a Sora, both birds of marshes were observed along the Tuckahoe River by playing tapes of their call and having them respond to it. A Black-headed Gull only seen on the count once before was observed, but the regularly occurring Great Black-backed Gull was missed for a second year in a row. A Barn Owl was a welcomed sighting. They are not that rare but seldom observed because in addition to being nocturnal you don’t hear them calling the way you hear Great Horned and Barred Owls.

A complete listing of the birds seen on the count can be found the Audubon Christmas Bird Count web site: http://cbc.audubon.org/cbccurrent/current_table.html

Under Option A, select Maryland and click on "find count" then over on the right, you will see CBC Count Code with a box underneath. Click on Denton.

Submitted by Steve Westre, Caroline County Christmas Bird Count Coordinator


Plans for a Maryland Birding Trail

The May/June 2007 issue of YELLOWTHROAT has an article on page nine about plans to develop a Maryland Birding Trail.
Go to http://www.mdbirds.org/publications/yellowthroat/pdf/yt2703.pdf
and then go to page 9 to read about it.

Another good site for information about Birding Trails is: http://www.americanbirding.org/resources/birdingtrails.html

2007 Annual and Life List Report

As we draw closer to the end of 2007, it's once again time to begin thinking
about submitting your list totals for the 2007 Annual and Life List Report.
The List Report Form is on the MOS Website, at:

If you've not submitted before, look here to see the 2006 List
Report: http://www.mdbirds.org/birds/mdbirds/locality/lstrep2006.pdf

This is meant to be a fun activity, so please take it in that vein. If you
have stopped reporting, consider starting up again. If you've never
reported, join us!

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with me!

Norm Saunders
MOS Annual List Report Compiler

Blog Archive

About Caroline County Bird Club