The 115th CBC in Florida

The 73 CBCs held during the 115th season set the all-time record for Florida. New counts were begun at Bay Lake and Matanzas. In contrast, the Choctawhatchee River CBC was not run this season. Florida’s CBCs accounted for 9329 accepted observations of 357 taxonomic forms and 2,611,243 individuals. The taxonomic forms comprised 290 native species, the reintroduced Whooping Crane, 14 of the 15 countable exotics, 38 non-countable exotics, two hybrids (Mallard × Mottled Duck and Ring-necked Duck × Lesser Scaup), one color morph (“Great White Heron”), one intergrade (“Wurdemann’s Heron”), and 10 species-groups. Eight species—Greater White-fronted Goose, Black Swan, Black-necked Swan, Key West Quail-Dove, Lesser Nighthawk, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, La Sagra’s Flycatcher, and Tennessee Warbler—were recorded solely during count week.

Eleven CBCs, including three inland (*) exceeded 149 species: Alafia Banks (168), Jacksonville and West Pasco (165 each), *Zellwood–Mount Dora (161), St. Marks (158), Sarasota (156), St. Petersburg and Merritt Island N.W.R. (155 each), *Gainesville (154), *Lakeland (151), and Apalachicola Bay–St. Vincent N.W.R. (150). Six CBCs, including three inland (*), tallied more than 50,000 individuals: *Orange River (854,201, with 850,000 Tree Swallows), Cocoa (151,032, with 70,000 Lesser Scaup), *Kissimmee Valley (105,931, with 65,000 American Coots), *Lakeland (73,280), West Pasco (57,484), and St. Petersburg (50,253). Six species (Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, Palm Warbler, and Common Yellowthroat) were tallied on all 73 counts.

Nine species exceeded 50,000 individuals statewide: Tree Swallow (962,660), American Coot (171,535), Lesser Scaup (146,055), Laughing Gull (108,356), American Robin (84,834), Fish Crow (76,784), Ring-billed Gull (67,262), White Ibis (62,096), and Red-winged Blackbird (60,806). In contrast, 14 native species or natural vagrants were represented by a single individual each (excluding species-groups and count-week reports): Eurasian Wigeon, Common Merganser, Neotropic Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Purple Sandpiper, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Tropical Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Bell’s Vireo, Brown Creeper, Wood Thrush, Swainson’s Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Western Tanager.

The following section mentions only those rarities that were supported by accepted photographs or written documentation forms. Four exotic waterfowl represent additions to the 115-year cumulative CBC database. Fort Lauderdale added White-faced Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata), Plumed Whistling-Duck (D. eytoni), and Rosy-billed Pochard (Netta peposaca) from the same lake in Tamarac, where they and other species were discovered in 2013. Also present for a few years but not reported previously was a Blue-winged Goose (Cyanochen cyanoptera) at Stuart.

The 5376 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks on 32 counts indicated continued population growth. In contrast, only 72 Fulvous Whistling-Ducks were tallied statewide. High totals among 209 Egyptian Geese were 57 at Kendall Area, 43 at Fort Lauderdale, and 41 at Dade County. A Branta discovered on the Alafia Banks CBC and not seen again was listed as Cackling/Canada Goose; some observers considered it to be a hybrid. Canada Geese continue to quietly increase in the peninsula, with counts of 300 at Jacksonville, 71 at Bradenton, and 60 at Emeralda–Sunnyhill. Other feral waterfowl include 4085 Muscovy Ducks on 52 counts and 3069 (mostly feral) Mallards on 48.

Partly in response to an eBird article that Tony Leukering and I were writing (see, I asked Florida CBC participants to pay attention to “Mottled Ducks” to ensure that they were not Mallard × Mottled Duck hybrids. As a result of this request, 1334 Mallard × Mottled Duck hybrids were reported, a number that far exceeds any previous CBC total. These hybrids were reported on 15 CBCs, primarily St. Petersburg (590), Bay Lake (215), Sarasota (210), and Aripeka–Bayport (175). Many other urban, peninsular CBCs continue to report dozens or hundreds of Mottled Ducks with few or no hybrids, such as Alafia Banks (53 vs. 0), Bradenton (340 vs. 0), Fort Lauderdale (72 vs. 0), Naples (120 vs. 0), Orange River (93 vs. 0), Peace River (250 vs. 1), Sanibel Island (91 vs. 0), South Brevard County (90 vs. 0), Venice–Englewood (225 vs. 0), West Palm Beach (250 vs. 0), and Zellwood–Mount Dora (116 vs. 0). Because I believe that many hybrids continue to be misidentified as Mottled Ducks, I may in the future consider changing many peninsular CBC reports of Mottled Duck to “Mallard/Mottled Duck” unless details were provided. (eBird encourages the use of “Mallard/Mottled Duck” for Mottled-like ducks that are not observed well enough to rule out hybrids, a policy that I applaud).

Speaking of Mottled Ducks, 3887 were reported on 49 CBCs. A White-cheeked Pintail at Fort Lauderdale was part of the local exotic waterfowl menagerie. No details accompanied a Common Merganser on the Ponce Inlet CBC, but it presumably was the same individual that had been discovered two weeks earlier and had been photographed by many.

Northern Bobwhites totaled 235 individuals on 20 CBCs, while Wild Turkeys numbered 1203 on 43. Booby counts at Dry Tortugas National Park were 76 Masked and 300 Brown; Biscayne N.P. reported 38 Brown Boobies. There were 15,169 American White Pelicans on 49 counts and 18,356 Brown Pelicans on 51, including 60 of the latter inland at Lakeland. West Palm Beach tallied the only Neotropic Cormorant, while South Brevard County provided the only Great Cormorant. Statewide, storks and wading birds totaled 130,147 individuals, among these 4186 Wood Storks, 219 “Great White Herons,” 159 Reddish Egrets, 62,096 White Ibises, 9252 Glossy Ibises, and 1434 Roseate Spoonbills.

Raptor totals included 4672 Ospreys on 68 counts, 1644 Bald Eagles on 69, and 3801 Red-shouldered Hawks on 71. Four White-tailed Kites were found at Long Pine Key, with two others at STA5–Clewiston. Good counts of Snail Kites (among 127 statewide) were 50 at STA5–Clewiston and 37 at Kissimmee Valley. Accipiter totals were 114 Sharp-shinned Hawks on 49 CBCs and 386 Cooper’s Hawks on 67. Short-tailed Hawks numbered 64 individuals on 14 counts, with 12 each at Kendall Area and Long Pine Key.

Four Black Rails were heard at Coot Bay–Everglades N.P., with another at Merritt Island N.W.R. Of the state’s 250 Purple Gallinules, 56 were at Emeralda–Sunnyhill, 45 at Lakeland, and 28 at Kissimmee Valley. Limpkins continue their increase, totaling 1024 on 42 counts, with 150 at Lakeland, 132 at Kissimmee Valley, 100 at Sarasota, and 95 at West Palm Beach. There were 10,711 Sandhill Cranes on 48 CBCs, among these 2700 at Lake Placid and 2500 at Gainesville. Totals of small plovers were 195 Snowy, 224 Wilson’s, 4135 Semipalmated, and 130 Piping, all increases from the 113th and 114th seasons. Cedar Key furnished 60 per cent of Florida’s American Oystercatchers (700 of 1165). The 2005 Red Knots found on 22 counts were a substantial improvement from the past four CBC seasons. Cocoa tallied more than 53,000 gulls of six species, including 33,000 Laughing Gulls. Single Franklin’s Gulls enlivened Alafia Banks and West Pasco. Thirty-five counts produced a total of 10,117 Black Skimmers, including 3000 at Ponce Inlet, 1100 at St. Augustine, 650 at Matanzas, and 600 at Jacksonville—four CBCs along the northern Atlantic coast.

Although they remain widespread, Eurasian Collared-Dove numbers are in sharp decline, with 5532 individuals this season, their lowest statewide total since the 96th season (Figure 1).

An escaped/released African Collared-Dove was found at St. Petersburg. A Key West Quail-Dove discovered the day after the Kendall Area CBC, was tallied count-week.

Fort Myers furnished 225 Burrowing Owls; the next-highest total on a Florida CBC was 10 at Ten Thousand Islands! A Lesser Nighthawk was found count-week at Coot Bay–Everglades N.P. Among Florida’s 216 hummingbirds were 201 Ruby-throated, four Rufous, one Black-chinned, and 10 not identified to species. Picoides woodpeckers numbered 1753 Downy on 69 counts, 31 Hairy on 15, and 30 Red-cockaded on six. Statewide caracara and falcon totals were 88 Crested Caracaras on 13 counts, 2393 American Kestrels on 72 counts, 92 Merlins on 45, and 79 Peregrine Falcons on 33. For the first time since the 63rd season, no Budgerigars were found on a Florida CBC; the species became extirpated in April 2014. Twenty other psittacids were found; the three extant, “countable” species were 981 Monk Parakeets on 19 counts, 711 Nanday Parakeets on nine, and 145 White-winged Parakeets on two. “Uncountable” psittacids included totals of 484 Mitred Parakeets and 199 Yellow-chevroned Parakeets, both at Dade County and Kendall Area. Coverage of psittacids at Fort Lauderdale was much improved relative to the past several seasons, with 235 individuals of nine species tallied. Groove-billed Anis enlivened Zellwood–Mount Dora (two) and Fort De Soto (one).

Eleven species of flycatchers were accepted; the rarest among these were a La Sagra’s Flycatcher (count-week) at Kendall Area and single Tropical and Gray kingbirds at STA5–Clewiston. Eighteen Ash-throated Flycatchers on six counts furnished the state’s high CBC total by far; multiple counts came from Zellwood–Mount Dora (8), Gainesville (5), and East Pasco (2). Great Crested Flycatchers are also increasing, with a record 389 on 27 counts; among these were 79 at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, 75 at Fakahatchee, and 45 at Ten Thousand Islands. Florida Scrub-Jays numbered 346 on 22 counts, with 60 at Merritt Island N.W.R., 40 at Emeralda–Sunnyhill, 37 at South Brevard County, 36 at Lake Placid, and 31 each at Avon Park A. F. Range and Peace River. All triple-digit totals for the 2025 Loggerhead Shrikes found statewide were from along the southern Gulf coast, at Fort Myers (150), Peace River (145), Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (125), and St. Petersburg (102). Horned Larks at Jackson County numbered seven this season. Northern Rough-winged Swallows seem to be moving northward, with 10 at Sarasota and one at West Pasco. Two Cave Swallows were reported at Kendall Area, where the birds now seem to be resident. The only documented Barn Swallows were in the northern half of the state, with two at Apalachicola Bay–St. Vincent N.W.R. and one at Wekiva River.

Nuthatch totals were four Red-breasted on two counts, 691 Brown-headed on 19, and 17 White-breasted at Tallahassee. Fifty-one CBCs supported 3912 Eastern Bluebirds. Good details were provided for a Wood Thrush at Gainesville. It was not an invasion year for Cedar Waxwings, with 2603 individuals found on 35 CBCs. Twenty-five species of wood-warblers were accepted this season. The rarest were at Dade County: a Louisiana Waterthrush and a Swainson’s Warbler that wintered. The most northerly of three Blue-winged Warblers was at Gainesville. Forty-nine Black-throated Green Warblers were found on 14 counts, including 15 at Kendall Area, eight at Dade County, and seven at Long Pine Key—three CBCs in Miami-Dade County. Black-throated Blue Warblers have recently been shown to be regular winter residents in the extreme southern peninsula; special effort at Kendall Area to cover suburban areas resulted in the eye-opening total of 29; 11 others were at Dade County. Summer Tanagers totaled four at Kendall Area, two at Fort Lauderdale, and singles on four others counts. A female-plumaged Western Tanager brightened West Palm Beach.

Twenty species of sparrows were reported; rarest among these were single Clay-colored and Lark sparrows on three CBCs each, and Le Conte’s Sparrows on four. The ratio of “Sharp-tailed” Sparrows was 202 Nelson’s on 15 counts and 70 Saltmarsh on six; Jacksonville furnished the high counts for each, with 77 and 42, respectively. Huge counts of Swamp Sparrows were tallied at Avon Park A.F. Range (2000!) and Gainesville (600). Female-plumaged Blue Grosbeaks were photographed at Apalachicola Bay–St. Vincent N.W.R. and STA 5–Clewiston. There were 444 Painted Buntings on 40 counts, and 84 Indigo Buntings on 19.

One Yellow-headed Blackbird graced Lake Wales. Rusty Blackbirds had their second-best season since I became editor in 2001 (299 individuals on eight counts), with the southernmost reports at Aripeka–Bayport (30) and North Pinellas (one). The female Brewer’s Blackbird at Aripeka–Bayport returned for at least its third winter; four others were at Jacksonville. Miami-Dade County provided all of the Bronzed Cowbirds, with 27 at Dade County and 39 at Kendall Area. Gainesville furnished 27 of the state’s 71 Baltimore Orioles. There were 164 Pine Siskins on 18 CBCs, among these 38 at Merritt Island N.W.R., 36 at Tallahassee, and 17 each at Ichetucknee–Santa Fe–O’Leno and St. Marks. House Finches numbered 969 on 47 CBCs, while 1998 House Sparrows were tallied on 54.

For the seventh CBC season, Bruce Anderson reviewed most of the ~150 documentation forms received from 26 counts. There was a notable decline in compiler quality-control this season. Bruce and I deleted 30 reports from 16 counts, including four species removed from one count, and seven removed from another. These deletions, which represent 0.32% of all CBC observations submitted from Florida, involved the following species: Cinnamon Teal, Broad-winged Hawk (two counts), Semipalmated Sandpiper, Common Snipe (one compiler listed Wilson’s Snipe and Common Snipe!), Great Black-backed Gull (inland), Roseate Tern, Common Tern (two counts), Least Tern (two counts, one with rather good details), Common Nighthawk, Eastern Kingbird (two counts), Yellow-throated Vireo (three counts), Red-eyed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow (five individuals by a party that listed no Swamp Sparrows), and Rusty Blackbird. Another 79 reports were appended with the “Details Desired’ or “Questionable Number” editorial codes.

Thanks to Michael Brothers, David Goodwin, Alex Harper, Tina Mossbarger, Judd Patterson, and Chris Wood for permission to use their photos, and to Valeri Ponzo for improving a draft of this summary.