by Jim Oates

We had good weather for the 30th Annual Ninepipe Count on December 18, with temperatures 27 to 33, calm winds, mostly cloudy skies, and morning flurries. Most still water was frozen.

Twenty-five participants counted about 80 species (up a little) and about 12,000 birds (down a little). About 3,000 of those were mostly starlings, feral pigeons and House Sparrows at a silage feedlot…

Although no new species were reported, several rare winter birds (less than 6 times in 30 years) were seen including White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Pacific Wren, Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) and Yellow-headed Blackbird.  Other notable sightings: Snow Bunting (first time in six years), Rough-legged Hawk (down 50 percent), Northern Harrier (down 80 percent), Great Horned and Short-eared Owls (down 50 percent).