Thirteen birders spent a combined 33 hours in the field Dec. 15 looking for birds on the 38th John Day Christmas Bird Count. The weather was moderate this year with temperatures above freezing and partly cloudy skies.

An average number of species and individual birds were seen this year, but there were some highlights, including two new species for the count – an Anna’s hummingbird that has been in John Day all December and some Brewer’s sparrows that usually disappear during the winter. Other highlights include 10 snow geese, a northern pintail (the first time in 15 years) and very low counts of mountain chickadees and cedar waxwings.

Special thanks go to the Holmstrom, Lemons, Mullin and Crown (Carter) ranches, and the Pikes for allowing access to their properties, and to Iron Triangle for allowing access to the Grant Western mill site.

Participants were Mike Bohannon, Susan Church, Jeremy Henderson, Randy Hennen, Karen Jacobs, Stacia Kimbell, Barbara and Peter Meyer, Clarence and Marilyn O’Leary, Jim Soupir, Allen Taylor and Tom Winters, with Anne Frost and Cecil Gagnon keeping track of their yard birds, and Carl Stout feeding “his” wintering hummingbird.

Birds seen included: snow goose (10), Canada goose (145), tundra swan (4), wood duck (15), American wigeon (7), mallard (562), northern pintail (1), ring-necked duck (5), green-winged teal (16), hooded merganser (16), common merganser (5), California quail (544), wild turkey (184), great blue heron (13), northern harrier (5), golden eagle (4), Cooper’s hawk (3), northern goshawk (1), bald eagle (15), red-tailed hawk (52), rough-legged hawk (4), Eurasian collared-dove (169), mourning dove (16), barn owl (2), great horned owl (3), Anna’s hummingbird (1), belted kingfisher (4), downy woodpecker (8), hairy woodpecker (3), northern flicker (18), American kestrel (15), merlin (3), prairie falcon (1), northern shrike (1), Steller’s jay (2), California scrub-jay (15), Clark’s nutcracker (2), black-billed magpie (110), American crow (2), common raven (180), black-capped chickadee (25), mountain chickadee (2), bushtit (11), red-breasted nuthatch (24), pygmy nuthatch (3), Pacific wren (1) marsh wren (1), American dipper (7), golden-crowned kinglet (30), ruby-crowned kinglet (7), Townsend’s solitaire (89), American robin (410), European starling (621), cedar waxwing (1), Brewer’s sparrow (6), dark-eyed junco — Oregon (326), dark-eyed junco — slate-colored (3), white-crowned sparrow (48), song sparrow (18), spotted towhee (2), red-winged blackbird (4), Brewer’s blackbird (6), house finch (38), red crossbill (3), lesser goldfinch (6), American goldfinch (11) and house sparrow (104). Species not seen on the count day but during the count week include Canada (gray) jay and pine siskin.

On Dec. 17, nine volunteers for the Antone Christmas Bird Count enjoyed balmy temperatures up into the low 50s and morning sunshine (except for some local fog) with clouds moving in the late afternoon but no precipitation. The only drawback of the nice weather was soft roads that limited access to the middle section of Antone Road, making for white-knuckle driving while coming back downhill in some other areas.

The first Canada jay/gray jay for this count was found high up in the northern part of the circle. Other highlights included nine raptors species (including three prairie falcons and one merlin), a Wilson’s snipe (found in a small seep above the Thomas Condon Visitor Center), six northern shrikes, four wren species (rock, canyon, pacific and marsh wren) and eight red crossbills.

Once again, we appreciate the opportunity to count birds on Antone Ranch and the friendly welcome and interest from ranch manager Zach Bruce and his crew. We also appreciate the support of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, and the very warm welcome from Superintendent Patrick Gamman. Special thanks to Shelley Buranek, the Integrated Resources Management chief, who drove all the way down from Clarno, over two mountain passes, in time to open up the morning meeting place for us, then helped us in the field before driving back home again in the evening.

Species seen on this count included: Canada goose (39), mallard (11), ring-necked duck (3), hooded merganser (1), common merganser (1), chukar (10), great blue heron (2), northern harrier (2), Cooper’s hawk (2), accipiter (1), red-tailed hawk (8), rough-legged hawk (1), golden eagle (3), Virginia rail (1), Wilson’s snipe (1), rock pigeon (1), Eurasian collared-dove (4), belted kingfisher (4), downy woodpecker (4), northern flicker (5), American kestrel (5), merlin (1), prairie falcon (3), northern shrike (6), Canada jay (1), black-billed magpie (46), common raven (12), black-capped chickadee (6), mountain chickadee (11), bushtit (54), red-breasted nuthatch (7), rock wren (2), canyon wren (9), Pacific wren (2), marsh wren (1), American dipper (2), golden-crowned kinglet (9), ruby-crowned kinglet (14), Townsend’s solitaire (69), American robin (134), European starling (83), song sparrow (16), white-crowned sparrow (5), Harris’s sparrow (1), dark-eyed junco — slate-colored (1), dark-eyed junco — Oregon (345), house finch (2), red crossbill (8) and evening grosbeak (1).

Angel Carpenter is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. She can be contacted at angel@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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