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
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
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