The 121st Christmas Bird Count in Wyoming

Despite the challenges associated with Covid 19, 18 of Wyoming’s 20 CBCs were conducted for the 121st Christmas Bird Count, and 72,705 birds of 116 species were recorded. The number of species typically ranges from 110 to 133, so CBC-121 was in the middle of the spectrum.  

Casper had the highest number of species (61), followed by Cody and Jackson Hole (58 each), Buffalo (54) and Evanston (52).  The lowest number of species (32) was recorded at the Cheyenne CBC.  The greatest number of individual birds was recorded at Casper (12,491), Riverton (9290), and Guernsey-Fort Laramie (6571), while the fewest were recorded at Crowheart (948), Buffalo (1573) and Bates Hole (1762). Species with the highest combined counts included Canada Goose (12,051), House Sparrow (10,474), European Starling (10,051), Rock Pigeon (5036), Mallard (4862), and Eurasian Collared-Dove (3533).  Introduced species (House Sparrow, European Starling, Rock Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Ring-necked Pheasant, Chukar, Gray Partridge), accounted for 27% of all birds seen, which was a marked decrease from the 117th CBC, when 42% of all birds seen on Wyoming CBCs were introduced species.

Unusual birds requiring CBC documentation included a Tundra Swan and Northern Pygmy-Owl at Bates Hole, a Northern Shoveler and Cattle Egret at Cody, a Snow Goose and Hermit Thrush at Lander, a Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay at Pinedale, and a Lapland Longspur at Riverton. 

Thirty species occurred only on one count, while six species were recorded on all 18 CBC circles, including Mallard, Red-tailed Hawk, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, European Starling, and House Sparrow.  Several other species not commonly seen in Wyoming in winter included Greater White-fronted Goose, Pied-billed Grebe, Turkey Vulture, Virginia Rail, Sandhill Crane, Greater Yellowlegs, Ring-billed Gull, Marsh Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Varied Thrush, American Pipit, Common Grackle, White-throated Sparrow, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, and Lesser Goldfinch.  

The number of participants for the 121st CBC was higher than average, even with Covid 19 and two CBC circles not conducted.  A total of 357 field counters and 105 feeder counters participated in the 121st CBC. By far the largest turnout was in Jackson Hole, with 66 field counters! Other counts with high field observer turnouts (by Wyoming standards) were Casper (32), Dubois (30), Cody (26), and Pinedale (24).  However, kudos also is due to the five participants who managed to cover the Guernsey-Fort Laramie CBC circle.  It seems odd that the largest population center in Wyoming (Cheyenne), with a population of 65,132, only had 11 field observers, while the relatively small community of Jackson, with a population 10,760, had 66!  Even Dubois, with a population of only 842, had nearly three times the number of field observers as Cheyenne! I think even in a rural state like Wyoming we are seeing an alarming trend in a disconnect with nature in urban areas.

I would like to thank everyone who participated in the 121st CBC in Wyoming, as well as the compilers and observers for submitting rare bird documentation forms for the unusual birds observed on Wyoming CBCs this year.