The 120th CBC in Alabama

Thirteen Alabama circles were covered this year, each of which was also run last year. A total of 191 species were recorded overall, led by Gulf Shores with 138 although its count did not include a single “wait until the end of the first run-through to report” rare bird. Eufaula and Dauphin Island each recorded 124, Wheeler N.W.R. 116, and Wheeler Dam 106. Just short of 100 were Waterloo (99), Guntersville (98), and Montgomery (97). Dauphin Island led with 14 species recorded only there, followed by Wheeler N.W.R. with six, Gulf Shores and Eufaula with four each, Fort Morgan with two (plus as a count week bird the only Western Kingbird), and Cullman, Guntersville, Montgomery and Waterloo with one each.

Overall, the number of duck species and numbers of individual ducks were down considerably, particularly in the southern part of the State. Not a single scoter was found on any count. Shorebird, heron, and sparrow numbers for the most part bounced back at least somewhat from low numbers last year. The 38 Nelson’s Sparrows on Dauphin Island were only one short of the all-time record, and Dauphin Island also had its highest-ever counts for Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets.

Both Baldwin County counts recorded Northern Gannets, but the only pelagic species was a single Great Shearwater seen from shore on the Fort Morgan count but lost before it could be photographed. There is one prior record on count day for Alabama and two other count week. Other species with only a single individual recorded were Red-throated Loon in Guntersville (27th record for Alabama on count day plus 2 count week); American Oystercatcher (Dauphin Island); Marbled Godwit (Dauphin Island; thirteenth count day record plus one count week); Western Sandpiper (Dauphin Island; lowest Alabama total ever); Franklin's Gull (Wheeler N.W.R.; seven prior count day records and three count week); Short-eared Owl (Waterloo; 26th count day record, plus one count week); Chuck-will's Widow (Dauphin Island; fifteenth count day record, all but once singles); Red-breasted Nuthatch (Cullman) (quite a contrast from the huge numbers a year before and only the fourth time with one or fewer); Henslow's Sparrow (Gulf Shores; there has not been more than one since count 106); Summer Tanager (Fort Morgan; tenth count day record); Yellow-headed Blackbird (Wheeler Dam; fourth count day record – all singles); and an adult male Orchard Oriole (Montgomery, only the second ever recorded on a count day, with one other on count week). Single Eastern Kingbirds were recorded in Montgomery and Cullman, but there were no details for the Montgomery bird and unconvincing details for the one from Cullman.  There are four prior records for Eastern Kingbird, all from Cullman since count 102, and no photos. Wheeler Dam had two Western Meadowlarks, which had been recorded on five prior count days and one count week. Single American Bitterns were recorded in Dauphin Island, Eufaula and Gulf Shores.

The only two species of hummingbird were four Ruby-throats in Gulf Shores and single Rufouses in Birmingham and Gulf Shores. Aside from the five widespread wintering warblers in Alabama (Orange-crowned, Common Yellowthroat, Palm, Pine, and Yellow-rumped), there were single Yellow-throated Warblers on three counts (Dauphin Island, Fort Morgan, and Gulf Shores), two Northern Waterthrush in Eufaula and nine Black-and-white Warblers from three counts (Auburn, Dauphin Island, and Eufaula) with the seven at Eufaula an all-time high for any Alabama count, exceeding the previous high total number for Black-and-white statewide. Northern Waterthrush had only been recorded three times before, singles each time.

Stay abreast of Audubon

Our email newsletter shares the latest programs and initiatives.