This past season 520 field participants found 158 species on 27 Christmas Bird Counts in Missouri. The species count breaks the previous record (2010-2011) by four species. Four counts reported a maximum snow depth of 1 inch. Only 10 counts reported ice cover on water bodies. Four of the six counts done after December 26 had early morning temperatures that were below zero, with -10° F at Swan Lake. I suspect that the high species count reflects mild pre-count and early-count weather, which caused some southbound migrants to linger, and frigid late-count conditions that brought northern gulls and Evening Grosbeaks.
The best sightings were a White-winged Dove at Horton Four-Rivers, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Taney County, and a count-week Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks at Confluence. I believe that all these reports are Missouri CBC “firsts.” Other “good birds” include one White-winged Scoter at Trimble, one “Brewer's Duck” (Mallard-Gadwall hybrid) at Mingo, one Greater Yellowlegs and one Long-eared Owl at Horton Four-Rivers, one Lesser Black-backed Gull and three Iceland Gulls (1 of which was the Thayer’s subspecies) at Confluence, one Greater Roadrunner at Taney County, two Barn Owls at Maramec Spring, one Rufous Hummingbird at Springfield, three Peregrine Falcons at Confluence, one House Wren at Mingo, one Common Yellowthroat at Clarence Cannon, one Dickcissel at Columbia, a count-week Common Redpoll at St. Joseph, and Evening Grosbeaks at Columbia (1) and Horton-Four Rivers (93).
Species reported in significantly (99% confidence) less-than-usual numbers include Canada Goose (0.62× the 18-year mean), American Wigeon (0.38×), American Black Duck (0.31×), Ring-necked Duck (0.40×), Ring-necked Pheasant (0.28×), Rock Pigeon (0.65×), Eastern Screech-Owl (0.64×), Loggerhead Shrike (0.70×), Horned Lark (0.37×), Field Sparrow (0.61×), Harris’s Sparrow (0.44×), Brown-headed Cowbird (0.16× [sic]), House Finch (0.62×), Purple Finch (0.40×), American Goldfinch (0.72×), House Sparrow (0.51×), and Eurasian Tree Sparrow (0.25×). Curiously, this list includes five of our six introduced species (i.e., all except European Starling).
Species not reported this year include Fish Crow, Gray Catbird, Snow Bunting, and Spotted Towhee.
Species that were reported in significantly (99% confidence) greater-than-usual numbers include Ross’s Goose (1.7× the 18-year mean), Trumpeter Swan (5.1×), Tundra Swan (2.5×), Northern Pintail (4.2×), Green-winged Teal (2.8×), Common Goldeneye (1.6×), Pied-billed Grebe (1.6×), Black Vulture (1.7×),Turkey Vulture (1.5×), Red-shouldered Hawk (1.5×), Sandhill Crane (2.2×), Wilson’s Snipe (3.6×), Short-eared Owl (2.1×), Red-headed Woodpecker (1.8×), Eastern Phoebe (2.3×), Brown Creeper (1.5×), Winter Wren (2.0×), Golden-crowned Kinglet (1.6×), Brown Thrasher (1.5×), American Pipit (5.1×), Fox Sparrow (1.5×), White-throated Sparrow (1.5×), Savannah Sparrow (1.5×), Red-winged Blackbird (2.8×), and Pine Siskin (3.6×).
Eight counts found 90 or more species, with Horton-Four Rivers taking the lead at 109. (Correction: Last year I stated that this count found 121 species when, in fact, it was “only” 114).