by Craig Hohenberger

The 49th annual Bigfork Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 17, under cloudy skies and mild SE winds. Temperatures varied from 19 to 28. Snow depths were about 4 to 6 inches in the valley, and at the eastern edges of the count circle there was up to a foot of snow. Lakes and ponds were mostly frozen, Flathead Lake and River were ice free. Thirty-three volunteer participants counted 22,968 individual birds of 84 species. The number of birds was up measurably from last year’s total of 15,322, and the number of species was down from 90 to 84.

 There was one new bird species for the count week, a Varied Thrush! Highlights this year were a Cackling Goose, Snow Goose, Long-eared Owl, Brown-headed Cowbird, and a Rusty Blackbird. Trumpeter Swans and Bald Eagles were recorded at all-time highs this year.

Thank you to all the amazing participants who helped make the Bigfork CBC count a very enjoyable experience. 

Pied-billed Grebe3Gray Partridge5Brown Creeper4
Horned Grebe8American Coot222American Dipper3
Great Blue Heron10Wilson’s Snipe2Golden-crowned Kinglet26
Canada Goose4840Ring-billed Gull240Townsend’s Solitaire23
Cackling Goose1Herring  Gull34American Robin2
Snow Goose1gull, sp.39Varied Thrushcw
Trumpeter Swan138Rock Pigeon30European Starling473
Tundra Swan11Mourning Dove20Bohemian Waxwing192
Swan sp.23Eurasian Collared-Dove77American Tree Sparrow71
Mallard10771Great Horned Owl1Song Sparrow43
Northern Pintail  5Long-eared Owl1Dark-eyed Junco227
Canvasback87Northern Pygmy-Owl2Red-winged Blackbird64
Redhead1170Belted Kingfisher3Brewer’s Blackbird181
Gadwall49Downy Woodpecker89Brown-headed Cowbird1
American Wigeon25Hairy Woodpecker7Rusty Blackbird1
Ring-necked Duck316Northern Flicker123Pine Grosbeak2
Greater Scaup130Pileated Woodpecker5House Finch353
Lesser Scaup25Northern Shrike6Red Crossbill26
Bufflehead82Canada Jay2Pine Siskin12
Common Goldeneye145Steller’s Jay15American Goldfinch4
Barrow’s Goldeneye1Blue Jay51Evening Grosbeak9
Hooded Merganser104Clark’s Nutcracker3House Sparrow99
Common Merganser284Black-billed Magpie113
Duck sp.3American Crow54
Bald Eagle87Common Raven193TOTAL SPECIES84
Northern  Harrier3Horned Lark25
Sharp-shinned Hawk3Black-capped Chickadee442TOTAL # OF BIRDS22,968
Cooper’s Hawk2Mountain Chickadee66
Red-tailed Hawk42Chestnut-backed Chickadee51
Red-tailed (Harlan’s) Hawk   5Chickadee sp.10
Rough-legged Hawk23Red-breasted Nuthatch146
Buteo sp.1White-breasted Nuthatch9
Merlin3Pygmy Nuthatch52
Ring-necked Pheasant305
Ruffed Grouse8
Wild Turkey248


Rod Wallette      Kathy Ross   Pam Willison   Bob Lee   D. Reeves   B. Lancester   Jake Bramante    Debbie Moon       Leslie Kehoe   Craig Hohenberger     Denny Olson   Linda & John Winnie   Chris West   Darcy Thomas    Pat Jaquith    Dave Manuwal      Matt Applegate   Margaret Parodi   Dee Baginski  Will Beyer  Carol Buchan     B J Worth   Dan & Susannah Casey    Raylene Wall  Shawn Richmond    Sally Edwards  Al Johnson   Chris Holdhusen  Lisa Bate        Pete Fisher    Daniel Lombardi