Christmas Bird Count Participants Share The Most Memorable Species They Spotted This Year

Burrowing owl. Photo: Larry Smith, courtesy National Audubon Society.

For the 111th year, bird lovers braved frigid winter conditions to tally the avian species in their areas as part of the annual Christmas Bird Count. Well, not everyone had to bundle up, as Greg Butcher relates in his post about  the CBC in Mindo, Ecuador, where more than 400 species are counted each year.

(Click here to read about Butcher's experience and to see photos of the gorgeous birds, including the violet-tailed sylph and the chestnut-mandibled toucan).

This year’s citizen science survey ran from December 14, 2010 to January 5, 2011. Tens of thousands of volunteers in North and South America took part, adding their findings to a century of data that’s used to track bird populations.

We asked our Facebook fans what were the most memorable species they saw this year (click here for Audubon magazine's Facebook page). Their incredible tales are below. As participant Keegan Bray says of the experience, “CBCs are exhausting, rewarding, infuriating, and worth every minute.”

Bob Meier: Vanderburg County in Indiana, my first Brown Creeper!

Tim Bray: Little Green Heron at the mouth of Greenwood Creek, Elk CA, flushed while attempting to get a better look at a sparrow - which proved to be a Swamp Sparrow! Two rare-bird sightings at once.

David J. Ringer: On the Taney County, Missouri, CBC, we estimated a megaroost of American Robins at 5 million individuals! Absolutely spectacular.

John T. Moore: Did 7 counts in Ohio and Indiana. Liked seeing bald eagle, golden crowned kinglets and wild turkeys. Really like being with great birders and great people and being out in nature. Just gotta protect this world!

Trish Gussler: After keeping an eye out for the Amer. Bittern a week before, I thought for sure we were going to come up empty on count day, but at the very end of our loop, at Bolsa Chica, there it appeared, hiding in the pickleweed! Also seeing a pair of White-tailed kites that week, and a burrowing owl count day were highlights too!

Peggy Cholley: Our all mighty national bird," Mr Eagle" battering a Caracara around, yes there was meat involved! Kissimmee Florida!

Cassandra Oxley: A flock of brilliant Eastern Bluebirds, not bad for a foggy, drizzly day!

Tom Terrill: Carolina wren, Dunbarton, N.H. It was a first.

Pablo Casallas: Large-Billed Tern, Phaetusa simplex in Simon Bolivar´s Metropolitan Park Bogotá D.C.- Colombia.

Shayna Hart: Just one?!? I'll go with the Golden-crown Kinglets because I was not expecting them. River trail near Lansing, MI.

Erica Mueller: Barn Owls, Meadowlands, N.J.

Craig Repasz: Black-backed Woodpecker Crawford Path, white MOuntains of New Hampshire.

Gordon Parsons: Willow Ptarmigan on the Wabush Mines Tailings near Labrador City, NL.

Michelle Williams: Pileated woodpecker, in my backyard. I watched him for about 20 minutes before realizing I had my cellphone and could snap some great photos of him. Unfortunately, my phone was in the car. I asked my partner to go get it, but he flew off before she got back with the phone.

Tim Schreckengost: Northern Shrike near Luthersburg, PA. Also a flock of over 200 Snow Buntings in the same area!

Nancy Ahlcrona Garvey: The beautiful male cardinal. It was at Lakewood Cemetery downtown Minneapolis. We had just buried my Mother on November 23, 2010. We had lit mini hot air balloons off in her honor, and when the last one left for the sky, a cardinal flew u...nderneath it. To all of us this was no coincidence. We had all spoke at the funeral about cardinals being her favorite bird, and that whenever we see one we will think of her. It was a most beautiful moment amidst our sadness.

Jesse Estlow: Jan 2nd and 5th. Bald Eagle over the Perkiomen Creek in Collegeville PA.

Jessica Runner: Northern Shrike. Middlefork Count in Danville, IL. It had been last seen on 11-28 (I spotted it and considered it a birthday gift). Despite many attempts, it had not been seen again until we found it on the morning of the count! First time that species was recorded on that count.

Alice Huff:
Bald eagle on Lake Hefner in middle of Okla. City. We have to work to get memorable birds in this state. It wasn't my first bald eagle but definitely made my year.

Dave Fraide: Jan 2nd saw 16 Bald Eagles at Fossil Creek Reservoir regional open space in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Wendy Freese: Male green kingfisher, in San Antonio, Texas- Medina lake!

Chris Sheridan: Peregrine Falcon on the steeple of a former church, Nashua, NH.

Shannon Carrasco: The Green Jays that live in my back yard just south of San Antonio, TX. They took up residence here about a 2 years ago and have been here ever since. At first there were only 2 but this year I counted at least 5.

Beth Kavanagh Tollefson: A red-bellied woodpecker at my feeder.

Keegan Bray: On the Manchester count, the gray jays; on our first (unofficial) Fort Bragg count, the merlin hanging out at a cemetery in our area that we pulled into just 'cause. She sat there for a very long time, giving us incredible views. CBCs are exhausting, rewarding, infuriating, and worth every minute.

Brian Haskett: American Pipit. Eagle Creek Indianapolis Indiana.

Melinda Carruth: American Eagle pair, S. E. Texas Magnolia Springs, TX. This is the second year these eagles have been here. We are very proud to have them come back a second year.

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