by Craig Hohenberger 

The 50th annual Bigfork Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 16th, under cloudy skies (fog & stratus) with calm conditions. Snow depths were variable, with most areas in the valley essentially snow free. At the eastern edge of the count circle, snow depths ranged from zero to six inches. Temperatures ranged from 28 to 34 degrees. Shallow lakes and ponds were mostly frozen, but Flathead Lake and River were ice-free.

Thirty-five volunteer participants counted 13,474individual birds of 74 species. The number of birds was significantly down from last year’s total of 22,968, and the number of species declined by 10 birds. There was one new bird species, aBlack-backed Woodpecker, found on this year’sbird count. Highlights were aSnow Goose, Peregrine Falcon, Gyrfalcon, Iceland Gull (Thayer’s), and Lesser Black-backed Gull.There were a few count week birds including a Red-tailed Hawk (Harlan’s), Canvasback and Prairie Falcon. Notable misses on the Bigfork CBC were Ruffed Grouse, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Canada Jay, American Robin, Brewer’s Blackbird, Red Crossbill and Common Redpoll.  Species with a high, all-time tally this year were Snow Goose and Ring-billed Gull.

Thanks to all the devoted participants who helped make the Bigfork CBC count a very enjoyable and rewarding experience.