The 2019-2020 CBC included 33 counts from Iowa. Shenandoah lost their compiler and was not run, but Buchanan County returned. A cold front arrived just as the count period began and some counts in the first weekend reported single digit lows. Temperatures rebounded after the 18th and remained unseasonably warm for the remainder. Buchanan County had a high of 58 on the 25th. Some January counts had highs in the low forties. Snow was only a factor at Spirit Lake, and ironically Keokuk. The total species count was 141. Geography matters, so despite the snow Keokuk had the high with 92 species. Other high counts were Davenport (87) and Saylorville (86). Northwest Clayton County (62) and Mason City (49) led the northern counts. De Soto N.W.R. (77) led the Missouri River counts.
Red Rock added a new species to the Iowa CBC with a Pacific Loon. Their status is regular in Iowa and there have been December records. Two Mountain Bluebirds were on the Dubuque count. This is the third CBC in the last eight that this species has been reported on an upper Mississippi River count. A Townsend’s Solitaire was at Mason City.
DeSoto N.W.R. reported 50,000 Snow Geese. Trumpeter Swans were in unprecedented numbers as over 3000 were reported statewide. Over 700 Tundra Swans were at Clinton. Canvasbacks in relatively low numbers with 1500 at Keokuk. Three Black Scoters were at Clinton. White-winged Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks were each on two counts. A record number of Common Mergansers were found with nearly 32,000 at Red Rock and 5000 at Saylorville Reservoirs. The only Gray Partridge were four at Ames. No Ruffed Grouse were found. A Horned Grebe was at Burlington. Gulls were plentiful along the Mississippi, but highest counts of Ring-billed and Herring Gulls were at Red Rock.
Seven Golden Eagles were on three northeastern counts. Northern Goshawks were at Spirit Lake and Yellow River Forest. Bald Eagles were in good numbers on all counts with the most at Keokuk and Davenport. Northern Harriers and Rough-legged Hawks were counted in average numbers. Merlins had another good count with five at Saylorville and four at Des Moines. Peregrine Falcons were at Davenport, Burlington, and North Linn. Prairie Falcon was missed. Owl numbers were generally good, but no Snowy Owl was found. It was another record count for Red-headed Woodpeckers. Eastern Phoebes were at Clinton and Davenport. Northern Shrikes had their best count in seven years.
Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice approached their lowest count in over 30 years. The Red-breasted Nuthatch irruption over the previous two counts ended. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were in record numbers and on eight counts. It was a good year for all the regular thrushes. Four Mockingbirds were at Green Island and a Brown Thrasher was at Ames.
Eurasian Tree Sparrows have now expanded northward to Northwest Clayton County and westward to Boone County. Sioux City reported tiny flocks of Red Crossbills and Common Redpolls. Cedar Rapids had two White-winged Crossbills. American Goldfinch counts have steadily dropped, now to a new 30-year low. Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, and Horned Larks were all in low numbers or difficult to find with the lack of snow. Twelve Eastern Towhees were a new record. Five Spotted Towhees were found. A Vesper Sparrow was at DeSoto N.W.R. Two Yellow-headed Blackbirds were at Iowa City. A Brewer’s Blackbird was at Davenport. It was a good count for Yellow-rumped Warblers. DeSoto N.W.R. reported a Common Yellowthroat and Ames had a count week Orange-crowned Warbler.