Feathered Friends: Fall Bird Count finds 131 species

8:46 am | October 8, 2012

The Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society conducted its Fall Bird Count on Saturday, Sept. 29. The count, which has been held every fall since 1970, was conducted in the five northeast Tennessee counties of Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington.

Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
A Virginia Rail, such as the one pictured above, was represented on the recent Fall Bird Count by
only a single individual. A total of 24 species of bird were represented by lone individuals found on
count day. Virginia Rails are secretive birds found in freshwater wetlands. They are quite successful
at remaining concealed in dense vegetation.

A total of 27 observers in seven parties took part in this year’s count.

Participants included Fred Alsop, Jim and Darla Anderson, Kevin and Dallas Brooks, Paul Haynes, Colton Watts, Gary Wallace, Brookie and Jean Potter, Bryan Stevens, Stephanie Shafer, Joe McGuiness, Kathy Noblet, Kim Stroud, Scott Reis, Rob Biller, Tom McNeil, Ron Carrico, Glen Eller, Roy Knispel, Jerry Bevins, Harry Lee Farthing, Charles Moore, Reece Jamerson, Rick Knight and Gilbert Derouen.

This year’s Fall Bird Count found 131 species, which is better than the average of 124 species but short of the all-time high of 137 species.

Of the species found on this fall’s count, 24 were represented by only a single individual, such as the Hooded Warbler found by my friend, David Thometz, in my backyard on Simerly Creek Road in Hampton.

I counted in the morning with Jean Potter and Stephanie Shafer along the Watauga River in Elizabethton. This year’s count was marred by a great deal of rain that, for the most part, stretched throughout the entire day. At times, the rain got so heavy we had to retreat to our vehicle.

Warblers, in particular, were difficult to find. As far as warblers are concerned, this was probably the most disappointing fall count I’ve ever taken part in.

Not too surprisingly, the most common species was European Starling with 2,660 individuals counted. Other common birds, in descending order, included American Robin, 1,096; American Crow, 640; Tree Swallow, 557; Canada Goose, 552; and Blue Jay, 465.

The warblers that were found consisted of 18 different species, but only one, the Tennessee Warbler, was found in large numbers. The 107 Tennessee Warblers found were followed by 32 Palm Warblers, Magnolia Warbler, 14; and American Redstart, 12. No other warblers reached the double digits.

The species found on the count included:

Canada Goose, 552; Wood Duck, 110; Mallard, 248; Blue-winged Teal, 71; Ring-necked Duck, 1; Ruffed Grouse, 2; Wild Turkey, 156; Pied-billed Grebe, 11; and Double-crested Cormorant, 16.

Great Blue Heron, 37; Green Heron, 5; Black-crowned Night- Heron, 6; Black Vulture, 38; and Turkey Vulture, 161.

Osprey, 9; Bald Eagle, 2; Northern Harrier, 1; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 4; Cooper’s Hawk, 6; Red-shouldered Hawk, 2; Broad-winged Hawk, 1; Red-tailed Hawk, 15; American Kestrel, 23; and Peregrine Falcon, 1.

Virginia Rail, 1; American Coot, 5; Black-bellied Plover, 2; Killdeer, 107; Spotted Sandpiper, 5; Solitary Sandpiper, 5; Least Sandpiper, 4; Pectoral Sandpiper, 1; and Wilson’s Snipe, 1.

Ring-billed Gull, 3; Caspian Tern, 4; Common Tern, 2; Rock Pigeon, 356; Eurasian Collared- Dove, 2; Mourning Dove, 338; Yellow-billed Cuckoo, 1; and Black-billed Cuckoo, 1.

Eastern Screech-Owl, 14; Great Horned Owl, 6; Barred Owl, 6; and Northern Saw-whet Owl, 2.

Chimney Swift, 266; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 35; Belted Kingfisher, 30; Red-headed Woodpecker, 2; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 69; Downy Woodpecker, 42; Hairy Woodpecker, 8; Northern Flicker, 45; and Pileated Woodpecker, 16.

Eastern Wood-Pewee, 6; Empidonax species, 8; Eastern Phoebe, 75; and Loggerhead Shrike, 2.

White-eyed Vireo, 1; Yellow-throated Vireo, 2; Blue-headed Vireo, 11; Philadelphia Vireo, 2; and Red-eyed Vireo, 3.

Blue Jay, 465; American Crow, 640; Common Raven, 13; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 5; Tree Swallow, 557; and Barn Swallow, 27.

Carolina Chickadee, 124; Tufted Titmouse, 111; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2; White-breasted Nuthatch, 36; Carolina Wren, 125; House Wren, 4; Winter Wren, 1; Sedge Wren, 1; and Marsh Wren, 2.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, 1; Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 1; Eastern Bluebird, 266; Veery, 3; Gray-cheeked Thrush, 1; Swainson’s Thrush, 64; Wood Thrush, 1; American Robin, 1,096; Gray Catbird, 48; Northern Mockingbird, 192; Brown Thrasher, 15; European Starling, 2,660; and Cedar Waxwing, 110.

Black-and-White Warbler, 4; Tennessee Warbler, 107; Nashville Warbler, 1; Common Yellowthroat, 9; Hooded Warbler, 1; American Redstart, 12; Cape May Warbler, 7; Cerulean Warbler, 1; Magnolia Warbler, 14; Bay-breasted Warbler, 9; Blackburnian Warbler, 2; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 2; Black-throated Warbler, 1; Palm Warbler, 32; Pine Warbler, 8; Yellow-rumped Warbler, 3; Black-throated Green Warbler, 5; and Canada Warbler, 2.

Eastern Towhee, 59; Chipping Sparrow, 74; Field Sparrow, 34; Savannah Sparrow, 1; Song Sparrow, 170; Lincoln’s Sparrow, 1; White-crowned Sparrow, 1; Dark-eyed Junco, 48.

Summer Tanager, 1; Scarlet Tanager, 5; Northern Cardinal, 157; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 80; and Indigo Bunting, 60.

Bobolink, 8; Red-winged Blackbird, 97; Eastern Meadowlark, 31; Common Grackle, 23; and Brown-headed Cowbird, 5.

House Finch, 50; Pine Siskin, 4; American Goldfinch, 236; and House Sparrow, 137.


If you would like to see some of the migrants making their way through the region, consider attending one of the remaining morning bird walks at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park every Saturday in October. The remaining walks are scheduled for Oct. 13, Oct. 20 and Oct. 27. The free walks, which are conducted by members of the Lee & Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society, commence at 8 a.m. from the parking lot at the park’s Visitors Center.


To share a sighting, ask a question or make a comment, call me at 297-9077 or email me at ahoodedwarbler@aol. com. I am on Facebook at www. facebook.com/ahoodedwarbler.

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