by Pete Fisher

Pine Grosbeak – Photo Credit: Jake Bramante

The 21st Kalispell Christmas Bird Count was held on Sunday, December 29, 2019. Milder than usual weather (28-32 degrees F) and minimal snow cover (1 inch) made for an interesting count.

The “Flathead Gull Sanctuary” (The Dump) was fruitful this year, providing five gull species. These included the count’s first ever Lesser Black-backed Gull. Also tallied were a single Glaucous Gull and an Iceland Gull (Thayer’s subspecies). Meanwhile, the “Bramante Finch Sanctuary” (Jake’s feeding station) held the count’s 3rd ever Purple Finch.

A total of 74 species was recorded, a number which is about average for this count. Several species were found in record numbers. These included Ring-necked Duck (45), Northern Goshawk (4), Wild Turkey (444), Rock Pigeon (887), Great Horned Owl (12), Blue Jay (65), White-breasted Nuthatch (19) and American Goldfinch (231). Birds conspicuous by their absences were Gray Partridge (count week only), Red Crossbill and Ruffed Grouse.

Lastly, it was great to see the enthusiasm for this count continue. An impressive 50 field observers and 9 feeder watchers took part. Thanks to all that volunteered their time and energy. It made for a great count.