The 116th CBC in Florida

The 74 CBCs held during the 116th season set the all-time record for Florida. They account for 8931 accepted observations of 342 taxonomic forms and 1,808,140 individuals. The taxonomic forms comprised 285 native species or natural vagrants, the reintroduced Whooping Crane, all 14 extant “countable” exotics (Budgerigar is now extirpated), 24 “non-countable” exotics, one hybrid (Mallard × Mottled Duck), one color morph (“Great White Heron”), one intergrade (“Wurdemann’s Heron”), and 16 species-groups. Two other natural vagrants, Western Grebe and Buff-bellied Hummingbird, were recorded solely during count-week—both at Lakeland!

Nine CBCs, including two inland (*) exceeded 149 species: Jacksonville (168), West Pasco (164), *Gainesville (161), North Pinellas (160), Sarasota (159), Alafia Banks (156), St. Augustine (156), St. Petersburg (153), and *Zellwood–Mount Dora (152). Seven CBCs, including four inland (*), tallied more than 50,000 individuals: Cocoa (93,141, with 35,000 Laughing Gulls), *Kissimmee Valley (90,100, with 25,000 American Coots and 50,000 Tree Swallows), Ponce Inlet (89,272, with 40,000 Laughing Gulls and 10,000 Tree Swallows), *Econlockhatchee (83,541, with 32,000 Fish Crows and 22,000 Tree Swallows), *Jackson County (79,133, with 70,000 Red-winged Blackbirds!), *STA5–Clewiston (63,537, with 50,000 American Coots), and Merritt Island N.W.R. (53,548, with 11,000 Lesser Scaup).

Four species (Double-crested Cormorant, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Gray Catbird, and Palm Warbler) were tallied on all 74 counts. Nine species exceeded 50,000 individuals statewide: Tree Swallow (247,874), Red-winged Blackbird (127,457), Laughing Gull (126,430), American Coot (125,234), American Robin (85,891), Fish Crow (83,710), White Ibis (76,899), Lesser Scaup (73,234), and Yellow-rumped Warbler (53,912). In contrast, 22 native species or natural vagrants were represented by a single individual each: Greater White-fronted Goose, Common Merganser, Eared Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Yellow Rail, Purple Sandpiper, Black Tern, Common Tern, Lesser Nighthawk, Chuck-will’s-widow, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Thick-billed Vireo, Bell’s Vireo, Louisiana Waterthrush, Tennessee Warbler, Western Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, and Pine Siskin.

The following section mentions only those rarities that were supported by photographs or documentation forms. Fort Lauderdale again provided several exotic waterfowl, among these Plumed Whistling-Duck, Common Shelduck, White-cheeked Pintail, and Red-crested Pochard. The 7659 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks on 38 counts indicate continuing population explosion. In contrast, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks totaled 360 individuals on two counts. A Greater White-fronted Goose was south to Lake Placid. High totals among 244 Egyptian Geese were 65 at Fort Lauderdale and 60 at West Palm Beach. Canada Geese—largely exotics that are resident in Florida—reached a four-digit total statewide for the first time this season, with 1247 individuals; 400 of these were at Jacksonville while 340 others were at Tallahassee. Muscovy Ducks totaled 3956 individuals on 56 counts.

Increased attention to Mallards, Mottled Ducks, and their hybrids is improving our understanding of these forms in Florida—and the extent of hybridization between the two species. This season, 1454 hybrids were reported on 19 CBCs, most prevalently at St. Petersburg (500), Sarasota (340), and Bay Lake (225). Totals of the parental species were 3379 Mallards on 57 counts and 4193 Mottled Ducks on 49. Because several other urban, peninsular CBCs continue to report dozens or hundreds of Mottled Ducks with few or no hybrids, I may in the future consider changing some reports of Mottled Duck to “Mallard/Mottled Duck.” Good details were provided for a male Common Merganser at Cedar Key.

Northern Bobwhites totaled (only) 143 individuals on 21 CBCs, while there were 1599 Wild Turkeys on 42. Ten CBCs accounted for 138 Indian Peafowl and 142 Red Junglefowl were found on two counts, both in the Keys. Two Red-throated Loons were at Jacksonville, with another at Aripeka-Bayport. Lakeland provided an Eared Grebe on count day and a Western Grebe count-week (photographed). The 240 American Flamingos at Dade County represented the feral flock at Hialeah Race Track, but one photographed at Key Largo–Plantation Key may well have been a wild bird. Booby totals at Dry Tortugas National Park were 60 Masked and 92 Brown; others Brown Boobys were at Biscayne N.P. (7) and Zellwood–Mount Dora (1), the latter representing a remarkable inland record. Two Neotropic Cormorants were at West Palm Beach, where the species has been breeding the past few years. There were 13,543 American White Pelicans on 54 counts and 23,099 Brown Pelicans on 51, including 45 inland at Lakeland. Statewide, storks and wading birds totaled 154,830 individuals, among these 4554 Wood Storks, 165 “Great White Herons,” 197 Reddish Egrets, 76,899 White Ibises, 10,903 Glossy Ibises, and 1553 Roseate Spoonbills. A White-faced Ibis was at St. Marks.

Raptor totals included 4896 Ospreys on 71 counts, 1986 Bald Eagles on 70, and 3439 Red-shouldered Hawks on 72. Four White-tailed Kites were at STA5–Clewiston, with another at Long Pine Key. Snail Kites numbered 144 individuals on ten CBCs, with 57 at STA5–Clewiston, 41 at Kissimmee Valley, and 23 at Lake Placid. Accipiter totals were 120 Sharp-shinned Hawks on 59 CBCs and 324 Cooper’s Hawks on 67. Short-tailed Hawks numbered 69 individuals on 16 counts, with 19 at Kendall Area, 12 at Dade County, and eight at Key West.

Long Pine Key produced the state’s only Yellow Rail, along with one Black Rail; other Black Rails were at Coot Bay–Everglades N.P. and Pensacola. Counts of Purple Gallinules were down this season, totaling only 170 individuals; highest counts were 29 at West Palm Beach, 24 at Emeralda–Sunnyhill, and 20 each at Kissimmee Valley and Lakeland. Limpkins continue their increase, totaling 1181 on 46 counts; including 150 at Sarasota, 100 at Kissimmee Valley, and 96 at Lakeland. Seventy-seven of Florida’s 83 Purple Swamphens were at STA5–Clewiston, with singles north to Gainesville and Zellwood–Mount Dora. Highest counts of the state’s 7346 Sandhill Cranes included 950 at Gainesville, 875 each at Lake Placid and Lakeland, and 750 at Kissimmee Valley. Cedar Key accounted for 1000 of the state’s 1336 American Oystercatchers! Statewide counts of small plovers were 140 Snowy, 192 Wilson’s, 3528 Semipalmated, and 108 Piping. Solitary Sandpipers are rare winter residents in Florida; this season, singles were found at Lower Keys–Key Deer N.W.R., Myakka River S.P., Orange River, and Sarasota. Statewide, 1241 Red Knots were found on 19 counts, roughly equally divided among the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Ponce Inlet produced the state’s only Purple Sandpiper.

The 11 Franklin’s Gulls on eight counts this season must surely represent the state’s highest CBC total; duos were at Cocoa, Kendall Area, and Ponce Inlet, with singles at Choctawhatchee Bay, Peace River, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg, and West Pasco. Lesser Black-backed Gulls totaled 566 individuals on 25 counts; highest counts were 175 (!) at Coot Bay–Everglades N.P., 130 at Cocoa, and 59 at Key Largo–Plantation Key. One hundred Sooty Terns were at Dry Tortugas National Park. Single Gull-billed Terns were at Aripeka–Bayport, Coot Bay–Everglades N.P., and Econlockhatchee. A Black Tern photographed at Aripeka–Bayport provided the third Florida record during winter. Also photographed was a Common Tern at Sarasota; compilers are reminded that this species must be documented on any Florida CBC. Black Skimmers numbered 10,165 individuals on 33 counts, with 2500 at St. Augustine, 1300 at Cedar Key, and 1000 each at Jacksonville and Matanzas.

After seemingly declining for more than 10 years, numbers of Rock Pigeons rebounded to 14,226 individuals statewide—a total that still remains substantially reduced from the early 2000s. On the other hand, the population of Eurasian Collared-Doves continues to plummet; this season’s 4293 individuals represent by far the lowest statewide total during my 15-year tenure as editor. Rarely encountered during winter, Mangrove Cuckoos were found at Kendall Area (two) and Coot Bay–Everglades N.P. (one). As expected, Fort Myers accounted for most of Florida’s Burrowing Owls—120 out of 142. A Lesser Nighthawk photographed at Emeralda–Sunnyhill provided the only report. A flock of 14 Vaux’s Swifts that wintered at Gainesville was tallied on the CBC. Among Florida’s 244 hummingbirds were 226 Ruby-throated, two Rufous, two Black-chinned, and 14 not identified to species. Picoides woodpeckers numbered 1578 Downy on 67 counts, 26 Hairy on 11, and 39 Red-cockaded on six. Statewide caracara and falcon totals were 884 Crested Caracaras on 14 counts, 2581 American Kestrels on 73, 96 Merlins on 44, and 90 Peregrine Falcons on 35. Fourteen psittacids were found on Florida CBCs, among these 1005 Monk Parakeets on 21 counts, 640 Mitred Parakeets on three (including 500 at Kendall Area and 115 at Fort Lauderdale), 638 Nanday Parakeets on 11, and 315 White-eyed Parakeets (all at Dade County).

Eleven species of flycatchers were accepted; the rarest among these were a Brown-crested Flycatcher and an Eastern Kingbird at Long Pine Key, and three Tropical Kingbirds and one Gray Kingbird at STA5–Clewiston. Thirteen Ash-throated Flycatchers were found on six counts, including five at Clermont and four at Zellwood–Mount Dora. The northernmost Great Crested Flycatchers were found at Alafia Banks and Lake Wales. A Thick-billed Vireo at Kendall Area was supported with good details. A Bell’s Vireo at St. Petersburg and two Warbling Vireos at Kendall Area wintered and were photographed. The 236 Florida Scrub-Jays on 17 counts represent the lowest statewide total in at least 15 years. All triple-digit totals for the state’s 1839 Loggerhead Shrikes were from along the southern Gulf coast, at Peace River (162), Fort Myers (130), and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (116). The Jackson County circle is the only spot in Florida known to be reliable for Horned Larks; ten were seen this season. Northern Rough-winged Swallows were found north to Gainesville (one) and Melrose (nine). Barn Swallows seem to be beginning to winter regularly in Everglades National Park; 18 were at Long Pine Key with seven others at Coot Bay–Everglades N.P.

White-breasted Nuthatches outside of Tallahassee were at Jackson County and St. Marks. Brown-headed Nuthatches totaled 537 individuals on 34 counts; on the other hand, not a single Red-breasted Nuthatch was found this season. Kendall Area provided all of the state’s 29 Red-whiskered Bulbuls and 14 Hill Mynas. Fifty-two CBCs supported 4403 Eastern Bluebirds. A total of 9937 Cedar Waxwings was found on 48 CBCs. This season, 23 species of wood-warblers were accepted, including a Tennessee Warbler at Lake Placid and a Louisiana Waterthrush at Dade County. Amazingly, eight Nashville Warblers were found at Kendall Area (three were photographed). Other than singles at Choctawhatchee Bay and Gainesville, the state’s 48 Black-throated Green Warblers were limited to southern Florida; high totals were 19 at Kendall Area, five at Dade County, and four at Long Pine Key. Impressive totals of Black-throated Blue Warblers were 21 at Kendall Area and eight at Dade County.

Rarest among the 22 species of sparrows accepted were one Clay-colored Sparrow photographed at Econlockhatchee, and single Lark Sparrows photographed at Bradenton, Jackson County, and Jacksonville. Aripeka–Bayport furnished two Le Conte’s Sparrows, with three others at Zellwood–Mount Dora. The statewide ratio of “Sharp-tailed” Sparrows was 115 Nelson’s on 13 counts and 50 Saltmarsh on seven. Jacksonville furnished the high counts for each (43 and 26, respectively), along with 59 of the state’s 93 Seaside Sparrows. Triple-digit counts of Swamp Sparrows came from Gainesville (233), Avon Park A.F. Range (225), Zellwood–Mount Dora (144), Alafia Banks (120), and North Pinellas (100). A Western Tanager was photographed at Gainesville, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak was adequately detailed at Avon Park A.F. Range, and single Yellow-headed Blackbirds were at Dade County (count-week) and STA5–Clewiston. There were 375 Painted Buntings on 40 counts and 140 Indigo Buntings on 24. One Blue Grosbeak was photographed at Zellwood–Mount Dora. The state’s sole Brewer’s Blackbird, at Aripeka–Bayport, returned for at least her fourth winter. Miami-Dade County again provided all of Florida’s Bronzed Cowbirds, with three at Dade County and six at Kendall Area. Gainesville furnished an incredible 60 of the state’s 134 Baltimore Orioles; other double-digit counts came from Lakeland (15) and St. Augustine (12). Only one Pine Siskin was tallied this season, at Apalachicola Bay–St. Vincent N.W.R. House Finches numbered 1054 on 45 CBCs, while 2088 House Sparrows were tallied on 58. Scaly-breasted Munias were found at Pensacola (55) and Kendall Area (16).

For the eighth year, Bruce Anderson reviewed most of the ~190 documentation forms received from 46 counts. Compiler interest in documenting rarities ranged from superb to non-existent. Bruce and I deleted 32 reports (representing 0.35% of all observations) from 22 counts, including three species each from Crystal River, Emeralda–Sunnyhill, and Kissimmee Valley. The deleted species were Greater White-fronted Goose, Red-throated Loon, Magnificent Frigatebird, Audubon’s Shearwater, American Flamingo, Broad-winged Hawk, Red-necked Phalarope, Royal Tern, Common Tern (two counts), Lesser Nighthawk, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird (two counts), Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher (two counts), Yellow-throated Vireo, Purple Martin (three counts), Barn Swallow (four counts), Yellow Warbler (two counts), Scarlet Tanager, Blue Grosbeak, Lark Sparrow (24!), Field Sparrow (57!), and Purple Finch. Another 65 reports were appended with the “Details Desired’ or “Questionable Number” editorial codes.

Bruce Anderson and Valeri Ponzo improved a draft of this summary.