The 119th CBC in Tennessee

Twenty-eight counts were completed in the state during the 119th count period, the same number as last season. There was no count data submitted for Nickajack Lake this season.

The total number of species recorded during the Tennessee counts this season was 158 on count day, slightly below last year and about average for the state. Two additional species were seen as count week only birds.

More than 350k individual birds were counted in Tennessee during the 119th CBC. Reelfoot Lake and Duck River had the most individual birds tallied with over 67k counted on each.

The Duck River count set another new record this year by tallying an incredible 131 species on count day! This record breaks the previous count day record high mark of 128 species set on the Duck River CBC last year! Reelfoot Lake still holds the record for count day + count week species with 139 species tallied during the 117th CBC season. In addition to Duck River, four other counts topped the 100 species barrier – Reelfoot Lake (119), Big Sandy (115), Savannah (111), and Chattanooga (101). Several other counts were close to the century mark – Memphis (98), Perry County (97), Knoxville (95), Hiwassee (93), and Hickory-Priest (92).

Eight of the 28 counts experienced some form of precipitation on count day. All counts that reported rain experienced only light rain. Only the Great Smoky Mountains N.P. count reported any snowfall and it was light, mixed with rain, in the morning hours. Only six counts reported temperatures at or below freezing for at least part of count day (compared to 21 last year) with the coldest temperature being reported on the Duck River count on December 22 where the low was 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperature rose above freezing on every Tennessee CBC this season. Elizabethton enjoyed the highest temperature on count day on December 15 at 65 F.

Knoxville once again had the largest number of participants with 54 plus four feeder watchers. The Nashville CBC was a distant second with 45 participants.

Geese and Swans
Duck River again had the high numbers of Greater White-fronted (3777) and Cackling Geese (320) while Reelfoot Lake had the high counts for Snow Geese (18,111) and Ross’s Geese (16). Knoxville had the high count for Canada Geese (762). A Mute Swan at Crossville was the only one reported and a swan species was reported at Memphis (1) as a count week bird.

Dabbling and Diving Ducks
Fourteen counts across the state reported Wood Ducks with the high count coming from Perry County (52). Big Sandy had the high count for Gadwall with 5708 birds counted. A single male Eurasian Wigeon was found at Duck River for the second year in a row, and one was also reported on the Savannah count. The high counts for American Wigeon (1500), American Black Duck (21), and Mallard (21,000) all came from the Duck River CBC. Mallards were tallied on every CBC in the state with the exception of Roan Mountain. A single Blue-winged Teal on the Duck River count was the only one reported. Duck River also produced the high counts for Northern Shoveler (214), Northern Pintail (6500), and Green-winged Teal (700).

The high marks for both Canvasback (3295) and Redhead (743) came from Big Sandy. Ring-necked Duck was again most numerous at Duck River (950).  Big Sandy had the high count for Greater Scaup (436), while Reelfoot Lake had the high mark for Lesser Scaup (2058). Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks were completely unreported on CBCs in the state this season. The 950 Buffleheads counted at Duck River were the high mark for the state this season while Big Sandy tallied an impressive 1721 Common Goldeneye, more than the rest of the state combined! Hooded Mergansers were tallied on 20 counts this season listing the species with the high count coming from White County (249) again. Common Mergansers were noted on four state counts this season with the high count coming from Duck River with four. Red-breasted Mergansers showed up on eight of the state’s counts, the majority of those were counted at Big Sandy where 152 marked the high count. Only seven counts across the state had Ruddy Ducks this season, compared to 17 last year. The high count again came from Reelfoot Lake with an impressive 5700 counted.

Gallinaceous Species
Only five total Northern Bobwhites were detected this season on two CBCs – Clarksville and Duck River. Ruffed Grouse were found only at Cades Cove, where two birds were tallied. A total of 770 Wild Turkeys were counted statewide on 23 counts with the high count coming from the Great Smoky Mountains (100).

Grebes
Pied-billed Grebes were again found across the state on 24 different counts with the high count coming from Savannah (287). The Hickory-Priest CBC had the state high count for Horned Grebe with 434 tallied.

Pigeons & Doves
Rock Pigeon was reported on every Tennessee CBC with the exceptions of Fayette County (missed for the 2nd year in a row) and Cades Cove, with the high count coming from Memphis (700). Eurasian Collared-Doves were recorded on 12 counts across the state and the high count came from White County (15). The ubiquitous Mourning Dove was once again found on every CBC in the state in about average numbers. A single Common Ground-Dove recorded on the Jackson CBC was the only one noted in the state.

Rail, Coot, and Crane
Virginia Rails
were detected on five counts across the state with a total of seven individuals counted. Four Soras detected on three counts in the state were the only ones reported this season. A “large rail species” at Duck River was the only other typical rail species reported. The Franklin-Coffee County CBC was host to the largest number of American Coots (639) tallied this season. A total of 2764 coots were counted on 16 CBCs across the state. That number was down from the over 7000 reported statewide last count season. Sandhill Cranes were noted on nine CBCs and the high count again comes from Hiwassee (8952), where the vast majority of the state total of 9316 birds of this species was recorded. A single Whooping Crane on the Hiwassee count was the only one reported.

Shorebirds
Killdeer was noted on 26 of the 28 state CBCs again with the high mark again coming from Reelfoot Lake (1188). A single Dunlin reported on the Duck River count was the only one in the state. Remarkably, no Least Sandpipers or either yellowlegs species were recorded anywhere in the state on this year’s CBCs! Wilson’s Snipe was detected on 13 CBCs across the state with the high count (46) coming from Buffalo River. American Woodcock was recorded on 12 state counts for a total of 28 birds with a high tally of five noted on the Nashville count.

Gulls and Terns
Fourteen counts across the state produced a total of 4070 Bonaparte’s Gulls. The Reelfoot Lake CBC recorded the high count for this species (950). A Little Gull was again detected for a count week species at Reelfoot Lake where the species is an almost annual winter visitor. Ring-billed Gulls were found on 20 counts statewide with the Reelfoot Lake and the Big Sandy count each reporting over 12,000 individuals which accounted for over half of the state total! Nine counts reported Herring Gulls this season for a total of 980 individuals, up significantly from last year’s total of 240. The high count for this species came from Big Sandy which boasted a remarkable total of 435 Herring Gulls! A single Thayer’s type Iceland Gull was documented on the Duck River CBC. Lesser Black-backed Gulls were noted on the Big Sandy CBC (8) and on the Duck River CBC (2). Forster’s Terns were reported on the Big Sandy (5), Duck River (1), and Kingsport (1) CBCs.

Loons
Two Red-throated Loons, one found on the Big Sandy count and one on the Savannah count, were the only ones noted. A single Pacific Loon on the Big Sandy count was the only one detected in the state this CBC season. A total of 463 Common Loons were tallied across Tennessee on a dozen different counts with a high of 179 at Big Sandy.

Cormorant, Pelican, and Herons
Double-crested Cormorants were found on 14 counts across the state with a state high count at Duck River (1900). American White Pelicans were noted on seven state counts and the high count came from Hickory-Priest where 106 were tallied. A single American Bittern at Reelfoot Lake was the only one reported. Great Blue Herons were found on all 28 counts across the state with the largest number coming from Knoxville with 144 counted. A total of 23 Great Egrets were tallied on eight counts with the high tally coming from Knoxville (8). A single Green Heron at Knoxville was the only one reported. Black-crowned Night-Herons were detected on six counts for a total of 15 individuals.

New World Vultures and Diurnal Raptors
Black Vultures were detected on 25 of the 28 counts with Nashville getting the high tally (342) and Turkey Vulture was represented on 26 of the 28 CBCs with Duck River having the highest total (238). Single Ospreys were found on three counts – Big Sandy, Crossville, and Elizabethton. Golden Eagles were only recorded on two counts this season, down from six last year, with Duck River and Big Sandy reporting two each. Reelfoot Lake again had the high mark for Northern Harrier (23) and the species was recorded on 18 counts across the state. Six Sharp-shinned Hawks each on the Duck River and Savannah counts represented the high marks for this species, where 45 were detected statewide. Eighty-eight Cooper’s Hawks were tallied statewide with three counts reporting impressive double digit counts for this accipiter – Memphis (13), Duck River (12), and Knoxville (11). Only four of the Tennessee counts were missing Bald Eagle this season with a total of 288 individuals tallied; the high count came from Reelfoot Lake with 87, the exact number as last year! Red-shouldered Hawks were detected on all CBCs in the state this season with a total of 313 birds recorded; the high count for this species came from Savannah with 34 birds. Red-tailed Hawks made a decent showing this CBC season with 553 birds totaled on all 28 counts across the state.  Duck River also had the high count for this raptor with 45 individuals tallied. Additional forms of Red-tailed Hawks seen this season on Tennessee CBCs were a dark morph Harlan’s at Reelfoot Lake, a Krider’s at Duck River, and a dark-morph calurus/abieticola bird at Memphis. Two Rough-legged Hawks at Reelfoot Lake, one light morph and one dark morph, were the only ones in the state.

Owls and Kingfisher
Owling in the pre-dawn and post dusk hours on this season’s counts again produced five species of owls. Barn Owls were detected on only three state CBCs with singles noted on the Buffalo River, Duck River, and Perry County counts. Eastern Screech-Owl was noted on 19 counts for the season with a high count of a five at Duck River. Great Horned Owl was tallied on 20 counts across the state with the high count coming from Duck River (10). Barred Owl was reported on 16 counts this season, down from last year, and Duck River provided the high count (12). Short-eared Owl was only reported from two CBCs this season after being reported on six counts last year. Single Short-eared Owls were reported on opposite ends of the state at Cades Cove and Reelfoot Lake. Belted Kingfisher was reported on all state counts this year. The high count again (26) came from the Knoxville CBC.

Woodpeckers and Falcons
Red-headed Woodpeckers were counted on 20 Tennessee CBCs, with the Big Sandy count tallying the state high (79). Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Pileated Woodpecker were all found on all state counts this season. Hairy Woodpecker was only missed on two counts (Bristol and Roan Mountain). High counts for these species were noted as follows: Yellow-billed Sapsucker (59, Knoxville), Red-bellied Woodpecker (183, Knoxville), Downy (85, Knoxville), Hairy (22, Duck River), Flicker (148, Reelfoot Lake), and Pileated (44, Duck River).

American Kestrel was noted on 26 of the 28 state counts and the high mark came from White County (51). Single Merlins were detected on seven counts across the state for the season and two were noted at Savannah for a state total of nine birds. Seven Peregrine Falcons, including three at Duck River, were noted on Tennessee CBCs this season.

Flycatcher, Vireos, and Shrike
Eastern Phoebe was reported on all 28 CBCs this season with a high count of 44 noted on the Duck River count. A single White-eyed Vireo on the Hickory-Priest CBC was the only one reported. Two Blue-headed Vireos were reported this season; one each on the Jackson and Memphis counts. A single Yellow-throated Vireo was seen on the Savannah CBC. Loggerhead Shrikes were detected on six counts this season, up one from last year. The statewide total (31) was slightly lower than last year (39). The high count was again tallied on the Buffalo River CBC (20).

Corvids, Chickadees, Titmouse, Lark, and Swallow
Blue Jays and American Crows were tallied on all 28 counts in the state and again in good numbers. Fish Crows were noted on three CBCs – Kingsport, Knoxville, and Memphis, with the high count (15) again coming from East Tennessee in Knoxville! Reelfoot Lake added a count week bird. Common Raven was detected on seven East Tennessee counts; 10 counted at Elizabethton were the high mark for the state. Carolina Chickadee was, as usual, reported on every Tennessee CBC this season with the statewide total (2793) a little higher than last season. A possible Black-capped Chickadee was detected on the Great Smoky Mountains N.P. count where one was reported as a chickadee sp. Tufted Titmice were also noted on every CBC in the state this season with total numbers (2838) also a bit higher than last year. Horned Lark was noted on only five counts this season; the high count again came from Reelfoot Lake (279). A single Tree Swallow at Lebanon was the only swallow found in the state this CBC season.

Kinglets through Gnatcatcher
Golden-crowned Kinglet again was noted on every state CBC and Ruby-crowned Kinglet only went undetected on one count (Roan Mountain). The high count for Golden-crowned was tallied at Reelfoot Lake (82) while the high mark for Ruby-crowned was noted at Savannah (80). It was an irruption year for Red-breasted Nuthatches and 124 individuals were reported across the state on 24 different counts! Compare this to a non-irruption year last CBC cycle where the species was reported on only nine counts across the state with a total of 20 individuals. White-breasted Nuthatch was present on all CBCs in the state with the overall statewide total (961) higher compared to the previous few CBC seasons. Brown-headed Nuthatch was reported on eight counts this season, two more than last year; the high count again came from Savannah (52). Brown Creeper was missed on only one count, that being Franklin-Coffee County, and the high count again came from Savannah (16). No Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were reported in the state this CBC season.

Wrens through Waxwing
The five expected wren species were tallied again this season. House Wrens were reported on ten counts across the state for a total of 24 individuals, down from last winter; five on the Reelfoot Lake count were the high tally for the state. Winter Wren was recorded on all the state CBCs this season, with the exception of Lebanon, with the high count (55) reported at Duck River. Sedge Wrens were reported on four Tennessee counts again with a high of two noted on the Reelfoot Lake CBC. A total of seven Marsh Wrens was detected across the state on five CBCs with a high of three being found at Duck River. Carolina Wrens were reported on every CBC in the state and numbers were up compared to last winter with 2582 tallied statewide. European Starlings were again found statewide and were numerous. Single Gray Catbirds were detected on three counts across the state this season – Duck River, Reelfoot Lake, and Savannah. Brown Thrasher was tallied on 25 counts in the state with the high count again coming at Duck River (35). Northern Mockingbird, our state bird, was well represented and present in all 28 count circles. The high count came from Knoxville (231).

Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, and Hermit Thrush were noted on all the state CBC lists this season. High counts for each were as follows – Eastern Bluebird (Knoxville, 351), American Robin (Nashville, 4349), and Hermit Thrush (Savannah, 52). Cedar Waxwings were only absent in four count circles in the state and the high mark of 313 was noted at Nashville.

Weaver Finch, Pipit, Finches, and Winter Finches
House Sparrows were found statewide and this species was only missing from the Warren County count. American Pipit was counted in 11 count circles with a high count of 184 tallied in Perry County. House Finches appeared on all 28 Tennessee counts in good numbers with the high mark again counted at Knoxville (214). Irruptive Purple Finches were noted in the state in good numbers this CBC season and were noted on 18 counts with good numbers on many of those counts. A total of 212 individuals were tallied with the high count achieved on the Perry County count. No Red Crossbills were reported in the state this season. Total Pine Siskin numbers this season (71) were down this season compared to last year (151). A dozen counts hosted this irruptive species but only Jackson (23) and Knoxville (12) posted double digit counts. American Goldfinch was noted on every state count and in good numbers.

Longspurs and Sparrows
Lapland Longspur numbers were down significantly this winter, compared to last winter. Reelfoot Lake was the only circle that reported this open field visitor and only seven individuals were tallied. LeConte’s Sparrow numbers were down a bit this season with only six individuals totaled on five counts, all in the western half of the state. No American Tree Sparrows were found in the state this CBC season. Chipping Sparrows numbers were good again this season with the state total (1315) down slightly from last winter. Chippies were located on all but three counts across the state, being absent only at Hickory-Priest, Roan Mountain, and Shady Valley. The high count was at Savannah (267). Field Sparrows were again present in every count circle in the state with a high mark of 200 birds tallied on the Nashville count.

Fox Sparrows were absent on only four Tennessee CBCs with a high count of 42 birds tallied at Reelfoot Lake.  Dark-eyed Juncos were again widespread and common and found on every Tennessee CBC; the high count again came from Savannah (461). White-crowned Sparrows were identified on 25 of the 28 state counts with a high count of 112 birds coming from the Reelfoot Lake count. Harris’s Sparrow, a rare winter visitor, was discovered at Duck River for the second consecutive year and that was the only one reported in the state. White-throated Sparrows were again noted on every count in the state with a high count of 586 tallied at Memphis. A total of 69 Vesper Sparrows were tallied on five counts across the state with the vast majority (41) being tallied on the Duck River count!

Savannah Sparrows were noted on 23 counts across the state with a high count noted on the Perry County CBC (149). Song Sparrows were tallied on every count in the state and Duck River once again had the high count (790). Six counts hosted Lincoln’s Sparrows this CBC season were discovered on just three counts in the state – the high count of three birds came from Reelfoot Lake. Swamp Sparrows were recorded on all but three CBCs in the state, absent only at Cades Cove, Norris, and Roan Mountain; the state high count by a wide margin came once again came from Duck River where 1454 individuals were counted. Eastern Towhee was reported on every state CBC; the high count of 141 was noted at Knoxville.

Blackbirds
There were again no mega-roosts of blackbirds in any of the CBC circles this season. Red-winged Blackbird was found in 25 of the 28 count circles; the high count (1850) came from the Jackson CBC. Western Meadowlarks were documented only at Reelfoot Lake where three birds were noted. Eastern Meadowlark was missing only from the Roan Mountain count; the high tally again was at Savannah (296). Rusty Blackbird was located in 16 count circles across the state, mostly in small to moderate numbers; the high count was tallied on the Franklin-Coffee County count where 583 birds were counted. Brewer’s Blackbirds were documented on only three counts for a total of six individuals – three at Reelfoot Lake, two at Duck River, and one at Savannah. Common Grackle was noted on 23 state CBCs while Brown-headed Cowbird was tallied on 21.

Warblers and Cardinal
Eight (!) species of warbler were discovered on Tennessee CBCs this winter! A Tennessee Warbler found and photographed at Reelfoot Lake was a new species for that count and one of only a handful of winter records for the state. The much more expected Orange-crowned Warbler was found on nine state counts for the season with overall numbers (16) close to last year. Four counts had multiple birds, including three each found on the Memphis, Reelfoot Lake, and Hickory-Priest CBCs!  An unexpected Nashville Warbler was discovered on the Nashville count, the only report of that rare winter visitor! Four Common Yellowthroats were found this CBC season, three at Duck River and one at Reelfoot Lake. Incredibly, a Magnolia Warbler, well described and seen by multiple observers, was found on the Knoxville CBC in early January! This is the only winter record for this species in the state and a new species for Tennessee CBCs! A much more expected species in winter, the Palm Warbler, was found on six counts this season, down from being found on 14 counts the three previous seasons. The state total (24) was also down from the previous CBC season when 79 were tallied! Knoxville again had the high count with 11 birds totaled. Pine Warblers were found on 13 counts across the state for a total of 77 birds; the Chattanooga count tallied the state high count of 16 birds. Our most common winter warbler was, as usual, the expected Yellow-rumped Warbler and it was only absent from one count in the state (Roan Mountain). The high count again came from Savannah (352). Northern Cardinal was, as usual, reported on every count in the state with Duck River achieving the high count (574).

Closing Thoughts
Thank you once again to all the compilers and the hundreds of CBC participants all over Tennessee for all your continued work on our state CBCs! A special thanks to those observers who take the time to submit documentation in the form of photographs, audio recordings, and write-ups for rare and unusual species; your efforts make the jobs of the compilers and my job as state editor much easier!

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