by Lisa Bate

American Dipper – Photo Credit: Chris Peterson

Glacier National Park (GNP) held its annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Sunday, December 16, 2018. Thirty participants contributed to this event by covering 10 different routes in Glacier and 1 bird feeder in West Glacier. Participants spent the day counting all bird species and individuals detected. The weather was unusually mild for a winter bird count in Glacier with temperatures just below freezing, little to no wind and such little snow that observers walked, rather than skied most routes. Nearly all water was open (not frozen).

Routes varied considerably in 2018, with the number of species and birds detected: some routes very quiet, and others quite active. Overall, it was a big year, with 41 different species and 2,497 individuals counted. This was six times more than the number of birds counted in 2017! The Bohemian Waxwing was our most abundant species with 1,309 individuals counted. This was followed by Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls (Table 1). Mixed in with the Bohemians, astute observers recognized a new species for Glacier’s CBC: Cedar Waxwings with 55 individuals counted. A short video helped us to confirm and estimate the number of Cedar Waxwings in one of the flocks.

The CBC in 2018 was most notable because of the record high counts of seven different species: American Robin, Black-backed Woodpecker, Bohemian Waxwing, Canada (Gray) Jay, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Red-breasted Nuthatch (Table 1). As in 2017, observers spotted a rare (for winter) Red-necked Grebe on the open waters of Lake McDonald. No additional species were detected during count week (3 days before and 3 days after count day).

Glacier’s CBC which started in 1962, contributed to the 119th year of the National Audubon Society’s CBC. Thanks to all participants for contributing their expertise, time and energy for this annual event. Your efforts are invaluable in tracking long-term changes in species abundance, diversity and range changes in Glacier and throughout North America.