Missouri hosted 28 Christmas Bird Counts this past season, the highest number ever with reinstatement of the Kirksville count in the northeast. A total of 547 field participants found 147 species, a number that is about average. Snow was not reported on any counts, and only three counts (in the north) reported partly to totally frozen still water. Temperature lows ranged from 19 to 51 F while highs ranged from 26 to 59 F. Mark Robbins reported poor seed and fruit crops on both the Horton-Four Rivers and Loess Bluffs counts.
Overall, it was an uninspiring season. There were not many rare birds reported. The rarest species were a Bewick’s Wren at Joplin, two Tree Swallows at St. Joseph, and a Nashville Warbler at Springfield. Other pretty-good birds were two Sandhill Cranes at Clarence Cannon and one Common Loon at Springfield. Black Vultures were seen on nine counts (as far north as Columbia and Weldon Spring), Horned Grebe on seven counts, one each Northern Shrike on five counts, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow on four counts, including Columbia.
Several species occurred in the lowest numbers (party-hour normalized) that I have reported in the past 19 years (“new low,” below). Species reported in significantly (99% confidence) less-than-usual numbers include American Black Duck (0.35× the 19-year mean), Lesser Scaup (0.12×, 45 birds, new low), Ruddy Duck (0.08×, 11 birds, new low), Northern Bobwhite (0.24×, 62 birds, new low), Wild Turkey (0.52×, 601 birds, new low), Pied-billed Grebe (0.37×), American Coot (0.19×), Wilson’s Snipe (0.12×, 12 birds, new low), Horned Lark (0.16×, 714 birds, new low), Lapland Longspur (0.20×), Savannah Sparrow (0.46×), Harris’s Sparrow (0.24×; 997 birds, new low), Brown-headed Cowbird (0.17×), and Rusty Blackbird (0.52×). Except for Eurasian Collared-Dove and Eurasian Tree Sparrow, five of our “introduced” species were reported in significantly lower numbers than the average: Ring-necked Pheasant (0.14×), Rock Pigeon (0.58×), European Starling (0.26×), House Sparrow (0.47×), and House Finch (0.59×). “Winter birds” not seen at all include Greater Scaup, Northern Goshawk, Snowy Owl, Long-eared Owl, Common Redpoll, and Evening Grosbeak. Uncommon winter gulls were all but absent except for one Iceland (Thayer’s) at Trimble.
Species that were reported in significantly (99% confidence) greater-than-usual numbers were few. These include Greater White-fronted Goose (2.9×), Ross’s Goose (10.7×; 1671 birds on 7 counts, with 1606 at Loess Bluffs), Trumpeter Swan (2.5×; 10 counts), Tundra Swan (3.9×; 67 birds on 5 counts), Northern Shoveler (2.4×), Green-winged Teal (2.3×), American White Pelican (2.3×; 4 counts, with 395 at Montrose Lake), and Red-breasted Nuthatch (2.7×, with 136 birds on 22 counts, the second highest count in the last 19 years).
Five counts found 90 or more species, with Horton-Four Rivers taking the lead at 105.