by Craig Hohenberger

The 46th annual Bigfork Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 14th, under cloudy skies, periodic “snow bands,” and relatively calm conditions all day. Snow depths were non-existent and/or limited to the higher eastern edges of the count circle; temperatures ranged from 31-39 degrees F.  Rivers and lakes were mostly open and there was no ice on Flathead Lake.

Thirty-seven volunteer participants counted 13,711 individual birds of 93 species. Up from 87 species last year, and 2nd highest total ever. The overall number of birds decreased from last year’s total of 22,697 to 13,711 birds. There was one new bird species found this yearon the count an Iceland Gull (Thayer’s).

Highlights were a Cackling Goose, Glaucous Gull (4), Common Grackle and a Brown-headed Cowbird, plus many other great birds. There was a Coopers Hawk and a Great Gray Owl observed during count week. We had no record high counts of any species; probably the mild weather and the open habitat contributed to lower bird numbers.

Thank you to all the wonderful participants who helped make the Bigfork CBC count a very enjoyable and fantastic experience!