By Laura Balascio and J.B. Churchill

This season we say goodbye to the Baltimore Harbor CBC and welcome the new Loch Raven count. For the majority of count circles the weather conditions were favorable for the Delaware and Maryland 113 Christmas Bird Count.  Temperatures ranged from a low of 24°F at Point Lookout to a high of 55°F experienced during the Lower Kent County and Seneca counts. Very little snow was reported other than the 2 to 6 inches on the ground during the Washington County count and 0 to 3 inches on the Sugarloaf Mountain count. The Allegany County Count had some light snow during the count while Salisbury, Jug Bay and Port Tobacco experienced some light rain and Southern Dorchester County endured heavy rain. The highest winds were reported from the Crisfield count ranging from 25 to 44 mph. Ocean City, Southern Dorchester, Annapolis-Gibson Island, Washington County, and Sugarloaf Mountain also experienced maximum wind speeds over 20 mph. There were 191 actual species seen in the region (including Gray Partridge and Monk Parakeet); with an additional 21 species, three hybrids, two ambiguous (either/or designations) and nine types/forms.

Waterfowl:

The Sugarloaf Mountain count had a Greater White-fronted Goose. Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook counted seven Ross’s Geese (HC) and Lower Kent County had their third occurrence (1).  Seaford-Nanticoke reported a somewhat low count of 8840 Snow Geese while 18 was a count high on the more inland Point Lookout count.  The Seneca count also had one (count week). Wilmington had a high of 11 Atlantic Brant. They also had a high of three Cackling Geese and Annapolis-Gibson Island had a high count of two. Overall this species was found on 11 Maryland and three Delaware counts including (Milford (1), Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (3), Bowie (3), Chesterville (5), Elkton (2), Jug Bay (2), Lower Kent County (2), Point Lookout (1), Rock Run (2), Sugarloaf Mountain (1), and Triadelphia Reservoir (6; HC; 6th occurrence). The Oakland Count had a high count of Canada Geese (1657) and five Tundra Swans. The Allegany County count also had one Tundra Swan (8th occurrence) and Washington County reached a count high of 35. Rock Run had 2402 Tundra Swans and this is close to the high count of 2600 from 45 years ago. Lower Kent County Count had 38 Wood Ducks (HC). Sugarloaf Mountain (59), Elkton (224), and Lower Kent County (1264) each had high counts of Gadwall. Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook, Rehoboth, and the new Loch Raven count each had a Eurasian Wigeon and Lower Kent County had four (3rd occurrence and HC).   Blue-winged Teal was observed on both the Bombay Hook (1) and Rehoboth (2) counts.  Middletown had 271 Northern Shoveler, Southern Dorchester 237, and St. Michaels 17 (HC). A Northern Shoveler on the Washington County count was a fourth occurrence. Milford had a high count of Northern Pintails (114). Sugarloaf Mountain (29) and Chesterville (76) each had a high count for American Green-winged Teal. Annapolis-Gibson Island and Rehoboth each counted 52 Canvasback, and this was an all-time count low. Southern Dorchester had a low count for Redhead with only one seen. Only seven out of the 23 MD counts and three out of 7 DE counts observed Redheads. Catoctin Mountain, Chesterville, and Lower Kent County each had high counts of Ring-necked Duck (22, 543 and 869 respectively). A single Ring-necked Duck on the Washington County count was only their sixth occurrence. Rehoboth Count had low counts for Greater Scaup (5) and White-winged Scoter (0). For Wilmington, a Long-tailed Duck was only their third occurrence.  Middletown recorded a high count of 124 Bufflehead.  The Point Lookout count had a Barrow’s Goldeneye (a 2nd occurrence). There were count highs of Hooded Mergansers on the Seneca (55), Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (151), Milford (160) and Ocean City (519) counts. Chesterville and Elkton each counted only two Common Mergansers for an all-time low.  A single Ruddy Duck counted on the Catoctin Mountain Count was only their third occurrence. On the Bowie count, 80 Ruddy Ducks was close to the count high of 84 set during CBC 100. Rock Run’s high count was 378 and Elkton’s was 548.

Turkeys & Game Birds:

All-time low counts for Northern Bobwhite were reported by Denton (4), Lower Kent County (1), and Middletown (1) while being missed entirely on the Rehoboth count. Chesterville had first occurrences of Gray Partridge and Ring-necked Pheasant (both released for hunting). Bombay Hook had a high count of 54 Wild Turkeys and Lower Kent County had 126.

Loons and Grebes:

A Red-throated Loon was seen on the Southern Dorchester Count (4th occurrence). St. Michaels had a high count of Common Loons (86). Two counts had Western Grebe sightings. One was found along the Delaware River south of Bay View Beach by Anthony Gonzon during the Middletown count. That bird was found at the Green Tract, south of Silver Run, swimming north towards Augustine Beach. Another was seen at Fowler Beach by Ed Sigda for count week of the Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook count. The Sugarloaf and Triadelphia Counts each had high counts of Pied-billed Grebes (21 and 12 respectively) as did Milford (36), Wilmington (31), and Seaford-Nanticoke (15).

Cormorants and Gannet:

There were 31 Northern Gannets on the St. Michaels count (6th occurrence) and Annapolis-Gibson Island reported one individual. The Bowie Count had a high of five Double-crested Cormorants, while other high counts included Seaford-Nanticoke (15), Wilmington (31), Southern Dorchester (47), and Lower Kent County (344).  With a count of 96, Point Lookout came very close to their high count of 98 Double-crested Cormorants while the single individual on the Triadelphia Reservoir count was only their thirdoccurrence.  Great Cormorants were at Annapolis-Gibson Island (9), Point Lookout (6), Rehoboth (5), Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (4), Ocean City (4), Wilmington (2), Lower Kent County (1), and Jug Bay (1).

Pelicans, Herons, and Egrets:

The Ocean City Count had 17 American White Pelicans (third year being seen in the same upper reaches of Newport Bay). Point Lookout (1) had a second occurrence and also reached a high count of 172 Brown Pelicans. Milford had its first American Bittern. Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (13) and Middletown (12) had a high count for Great Egret and Seneca had one. Chesterville had a high count for Great Blue Heron (88). Rehoboth had its fourth occurrence of Snowy Egret.  The three Little Blue Herons reported in Ocean City was a sixth occurrence for that count. The Port Tobacco count had a single Black-crowned Night-Heron.

Vultures, Hawks, & Eagles:

Chesterville had a high count for Black Vulture (217); other highs were at Annapolis-Gibson (220) and Jug Bay (444).  Count highs for Turkey Vulture were recorded for Middletown (418), Annapolis-Gibson Island (267), Patuxent River (207), and Port Tobacco (225), while Oakland in the Allegheny Plateau reported a very unusual winter sighting of one individual during count week.  An Osprey was seen at the Ocean City Inlet on the Ocean City count. Bald Eagle numbers continue to increase in the region, with count highs in Sugarloaf (15), Wilmington (25), Annapolis-Gibson Island (43), Denton (43), Chesterville (67), Milford (46), Seaford-Nanticoke (74), Lower Kent County (137), and Port Tobacco (175). High counts for Cooper’s Hawk were Catoctin Mountain (10), Sugarloaf Mountain (11), Triadelphia (12), and Bombay Hook (14). Red-shouldered Hawk count highs were tallied on Oakland (3), Denton (15), Chesterville (17), and Rock Run (32). Seneca’s 100 Red-shouldered Hawks is 15 less than their count high. Chesterville had a high count for Red-tailed Hawk of 79 and Catoctin Mountain had 107. The Port Tobacco count had 3 Golden Eagles (1st occurrence).

Rails, Coots, & Cranes:

The Bombay Hook count had a high count of American Coot (6650) but it was missed altogether on the Annapolis-Gibson Island Count. High counts for Clapper Rail were Salisbury (4) and Bombay Hook (21). A Clapper Rail on the Jug Bay count was a second occurrence.  Chesterville recorded a high count of Virginia Rails (6) while Elkton (2) had a seventh occurrence. Chesterville also had a first occurrence of Sora (2) and Salisbury (1) the fourth record.  A third occurrence, two Sandhill Cranes showed up near the captive birds at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center on the Bowie Count.

Gulls & Shorebirds:

There was a count-week sighting of a jaeger sp. on the Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook count. Crisfield reported a low count of three Killdeer whereas Rehoboth had a high count (217). Milford had its first American Oystercatcher. Bombay Hook had 18 species of shorebirds including Black-necked Stilt (2nd occurrence). Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had a high count of Greater Yellowlegs (158) and on the Catoctin Mountain count an individual was a second occurrence. Ocean City had a high of 27 Willets. Bombay Hook had a Marbled Godwit (2nd occurrence), White-rumped Sandpiper (3rd occurrence), and Short-billed Dowitcher (4th occurrence). Seaford-Nanticoke encountered its second Least Sandpiper at the same location as the first. Annapolis-Gibson Island had a Purple Sandpiper (4th occurrence) and Jug Bay had a high count of 12. Port Tobacco and Lower Kent County both had a high counts of American Woodcock (6 and 9 respectively). Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had high counts of Black-headed Gull (3) and the Loch Raven count had one. The Allegany County count had six Ring-billed Gulls (count week). Salisbury had a fourth occurrence of Iceland Gull.  Three DE counts had them as well including three on the Wilmington count. Seaford-Nanticoke had their third Glaucous Gull. Wilmington had a high count of 37 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had 23; with additional seven MD counts and two DE counts reporting a few individuals. Jug Bay had a high count of 137 Great Black-backed Gulls. Milford had its second occurrence of Forster’s Tern and Southern Dorchester had 5 for a sixth occurrence.

Alcids:

The Ocean City Count had a high of two Dovekies and a second occurrence of Razorbill (3). The Rehoboth and Milford Counts each had single Razorbills.

Doves:

Rehoboth had a count low of 79 Rock Pigeons. Seaford-Nanticoke and Oakland had count highs of 391 and 104 Rock Pigeons respectively.

Owls:

Bombay Hook had high counts of Barn Owl (17), and Great Horned Owl (57). Crisfield missed Great Horned Owl for the first time ever. They were undoubtedly there but compiler Paul Bystrak reports that wind made it impossible to hear them. Seaford-Nanticoke had a high count of Eastern Screech-Owl (27) and Barred Owl (8).  High count record of Barred Owl was also set at Patuxent River (6).  Triadelphia Reservoir had 12 Eastern Screech-Owls (HC). Lower Kent County had a Long-eared Owl (2nd occurrence; and 1st time in over 30 years). Salisbury had high counts for Eastern Screech-Owl (45), Great Horned Owl (44), and Short-eared Owl (2). Point Lookout also had its third Short-eared Owl. Denton (5th occurrence) and Oakland each had one Northern Saw-whet Owl and Rock Run had two.

Hummingbirds:

An over-wintering Anna’s Hummingbird or possibly an Anna’s x Calliope hybrid at the home of Diane and Steve Freebery in Newark was an exceptional record for the Wilmington CBC. There is some disagreement about the ID among hummingbird experts who point to a “white collar” below the gorget, some rusty edging on the rectrices, and a few other details that lead many to believe it is more similar to documented hybrids of this type. It was banded on November 15 by Bruce Peterjohn and Dave Holmes, and was first confirmed as a hatch year female but after re-evaluation in March of this year it was determined to be a male. Nevertheless, this is a first Delaware State record. Two Rufous Hummingbirds were seen on the Annapolis-Gibson Island count. Another was at Jim Stasz’s feeder during the Jug Bay Count, with others at Rock Run (1), Port Tobacco (1), and Triadelphia Reservoir (1).  This last bird is a recapture returning for the 4th year to a feeder in Silver Spring, MD.   A Selasphorus sp. was seen by David Holmes; unfortunately, it was not near a feeder and a specific ID was not possible. He also photographed a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (both were on the Ocean City Count).

Kingfishers:
Belted Kingfisher high counts were observed on the Oakland (8), Port Tobacco (23), Bombay Hook (28), and Salisbury (35) counts. On the Bowie count, 36 Belted Kingfishers was close to the high count of 39.

Woodpeckers:

The Bowie count had a Red-headed Woodpecker (CW) while 45 on the Seneca Count seems impressive until you considered that it is less than half the count high of 134 (CBC 82). Seaford-Nanticoke had a high count of Red-bellied Woodpeckers (65) and Seneca reached a new count high of 585. Bombay Hook had a high count of Hairy Woodpecker (27). The Jug Bay count had a high count of 69 Pileated Woodpeckers, with Bombay Hook (5), Chesterville (20), Jug Bay (69), Lower Kent County (16), and Salisbury (28) all also reporting highs. Salisbury had a high count of 19 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers while Seaford-Nanticoke’s high was 18.

Falcons:

Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook had a count low of one American Kestrel.  Annapolis-Gibson Island missed American Kestrel (present on 53/59 counts) but recorded count highs of Merlin (2) and Peregrine Falcon (4). Eleven MD and four DE counts had Merlin (11 and 3 for Peregrine Falcon). Port Tobacco had their third ever Merlin. The Bowie and Chesterville counts each had two Peregrine Falcons (HC) and Lower Kent County and Wilmington each had three (HC).

Psittacids:
There was one Monk Parakeet on the Bowie count (3rd occurrence). These are reportedly not well established at this location.

Corvids:

Jug Bay had a high count of 520 Blue Jays. Seneca’s count of 1100 Blue Jays was not a count high but a pretty impressive number. Rock Run had a high count of 126 Fish Crows while Wilmington had 2496. Triadelphia had four (HC).  Meanwhile, Catoctin Mountain had 19 Common Ravens (HC).

Swallows:

Lower Kent County had a Tree Swallow (4th occurrence) and Rehoboth had 532 (HC).

Parids, Nuthatches, & Creepers:

Black-capped Chickadee reports outside the Allegheny Plateau were Bowie (count week), Sugarloaf Mountain (1), and Rock Run (2). Bombay Hook had high counts for Tufted Titmouse (113) and White-breasted Nuthatch (53). Bowie had a nice White-breasted Nuthatch count of 169, but not close to the count high of 273. Other count highs were Middletown’s White-breasted Nuthatches (43), Catoctin Mountain’s  Red-breasted Nuthatches (10);  Seaford-Nanticoke’s Red-breasted Nuthatch (47) and White-breasted Nuthatch (32),  Jug Bay’s White-breasted Nuthatch (150),  Rock Run’s Red-breasted Nuthatch (48),  Oakland’s Count High Red-breasted Nuthatch (31), and the new Loch Raven’s Red-breasted Nuthatch (45).   Point Lookout and Lower Kent County each had a high count for Brown-headed Nuthatch (100 and 13 respectively). Southern Dorchester had a low of one Brown Creeper while Seaford-Nanticoke had a count high of 19.

Wrens:

Five species of wren were reported on the Crisfield count:  House (1), Winter (8), Sedge (8), Marsh (3), and Carolina (76). Thirteen MD counts tallied House Wrens along with Middletown, DE (2), with the new Loch Raven count reporting an impressive four individuals.  Oakland had a Winter Wren (apparently unusual; the HC is 2 from December 1998); Middletown and Bombay Hook each had 17 Winter Wrens (HC); Seaford-Nanticoke (20), Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (28), Lower Kent County (36), Triadelphia Reservoir (53), and Bowie (114). Lower Kent County had high counts for Marsh Wren (9) with Chesterville reporting their first Marsh Wrens (3). Catoctin Mountain and Bombay Hook reached impressive count highs of 169 and 200 Carolina Wrens respectively.

Snow Bunting:

Chesterville had two Snow Buntings (HC), Rock Run (2nd occurrence), Seneca (1 - 9th occurrence), Sugarloaf Mountain (6 - HC).

Thrushes, Mimids, Starlings, Pipits, Waxwings:

Milford also had a count high for Eastern Bluebird (139), as did Middletown (145), Rock Run (335), and Ocean City (393). The Triadelphia Reservoir count had 4555 American Robins (HC). Jug Bay had a high count of 33 Gray Catbirds. Oakland had a Gray Catbird (1st occurrence), while two Northern Mockingbirds was a count high. In contrast, a low count on the Annapolis-Gibson Island count was 127. One Brown Thrasher was a low for Southern Dorchester and Patuxent River while Seaford-Nanticoke reached a high count of 17. Count highs for American Pipit were set at Rehoboth (66), Annapolis-Gibson Island (112), Wilmington (137), Jug Bay (228), Patuxent River (180), Lower Kent County (230), and Chesterville (608). Rehoboth had a high count of 821 Cedar Waxwings.

Warblers:

Middletown had their seventh Orange-crowned Warbler.  One Common Yellowthroat at Oakland was a second occurrence, and one was observed on the Loch Raven count as well. An exceptional Yellow Warbler was well described on the Jug Bay count. A Western Palm Warbler on the Seaford-Nanticoke was a second occurrence. Southern Dorchester had a Nashville Warber (2nd occurrence). Wilmington had a Yellow-breasted Chat (2nd occurrence).

Sparrows:

Port Tobacco had 63 Eastern Towhees (1 less than the high count from last year) and 72 on the Seneca count is close to their high of 77 set seven years ago. Catoctin Mountain had a high count of 25 and Wilmington 38 Savannah Sparrows. Prime Hook had a Grasshopper Sparrow (2nd occurrence). Bombay Hook had its second Clay-colored Sparrow, Ocean City had its third, and Salisbury had its fourth. Salisbury also had a high count of 599 Chipping Sparrows, while at Rehoboth a high count 198 was tallied. Chesterville had a high count of Fox Sparrows (13) and 12 at Sugarloaf Mountain was close to their high of 14.  Triadelphia had 57 which is still short of their high of 79, Rehoboth had 51, and Ocean City had 84 Fox Sparrowswhich is short of their high of 140. On the Washington County count, 23 Song Sparrows was an all-time low, as was a single White-crowned Sparrow. Elkton had a first ever Lincoln’s Sparrow, Bombay Hook had its third, and Bowie its fourth of this species. Lower Kent County had a high count of Swamp Sparrows (265) as did Chesterville (67), Elkton (48), and Patuxent River (45); however 49 at Southern Dorchester was a low count. Rehoboth had high count of 1463 Dark-eyed Juncos.

Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and their allies:

A Summer Tanager that spent most of the winter in Howard County was an exceptional record for the Triadelphia Reservoir count. On the Washington County count, 138 Northern Cardinals was a low count.

Blackbirds:

Jug Bay had a high count of Red-winged Blackbirds (23,195). Annapolis-Gibson Island missed Red-winged Blackbird (not the first time to do so but one of very few). They did have a Rusty Blackbird during count week. Chesterville had a high count for Rusty Blackbird (46; 4th occurrence) and Denton had four (8th occurrence).

Finches:

The Sugarloaf Mountain count had only 100 House Finches (LC).

Crossbills:

Both crossbill species were reported throughout the region over the winter season. Red Crossbills were at Lower Kent County (1; 5th occurrence), Annapolis-Gibson Island (4), Ocean City (4), Wilmington (5; 2nd occurrence), Oakland (6), Chesterville (9), Triadelphia Reservoir (25), Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (35; 6th occurrence) and Bombay Hook (45; 4th occurrence). White-winged Crossbills were observed in Chesterville (2), Middletown (4; 1st occurrence), Denton (6; 1st occurrence), Oakland (23), Annapolis-Gibson Island (24), Lower Kent County (26; 2nd occurrence), Ocean City (28; 3rd occurrence), Bombay Hook (47; 4th occurrence), and Bowie (50; 1st occurrence). Lower Kent County also reported an additional 3 unidentified crossbill sp. and Bowie had 1.

Other Finches:

Pine Siskins were numerous and widespread across the region with 15/23 MD and 6/7 DE counts reporting the species and with high counts at Rehoboth (50), Seaford-Nanticoke (49), St. Michaels (61), and Salisbury (63). Wilmington (3) and Seneca each had Common Redpoll, a third occurrence for both of these counts; along with Patuxent River (2), Ocean City (1), and Cape Henlopen-Prime Hook (2).

Old World Sparrows:

Washington County and Annapolis-Gibson Island each had a low count of House Sparrows (147 and 207 respectively).

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