Upper Swan CBC December 15

Upper Swan held its annual Christmas Bird Count on Thursday, December 15, with nine field observers. We had decent weather with temperatures ranging from 19 to 27, cloudy skies, and wind at 7 mph.  Most still water was frozen and moving water was partly open. Snow depths ranged from six to 32 inches. 

Total number of species observed on count day was 21, total number of individuals 182; an additional six species were observed during count week. Common Raven was the most numerous species (67); only 1 individual was found for Belted Kingfisher, Snow Bunting, White-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Flicker, and Canada Jay. Overall, it was a pretty drab day with the usual suspects!  By Eli Estey

Eureka CBC December 17

The 30th annual Eureka Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 17, on a mild day with temperature ranging from 21 to 30. Koocanusa Reservoir was open as were parts of the streams, but smaller lakes and ponds were completely frozen. Nineteen people went to the field and 16 feeders were counted as well. Fifty-four species were recorded which is well below our record high of 72 species in 2014, but similar to the last few years. The total number of individual birds was1851, which is in the low end of numbers we have recorded over the years. 

Black-capped Chickadee (257) was the most numerous species observed and other most common birds included Wild Turkey (188), Mallard (163), Red-breasted Nuthatch (152), and Common Raven (150). Record high counts were recorded for 6 species: Ruffed Grouse (11), Great Horned Owl (6), Belted Kingfisher (8), Red-breasted Nuthatch (148), American Tree Sparrow (12), and Song Sparrow (12). Five or fewer individuals were seen for 21 species including Barrow’s Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, Golden Eagle, American Coot, Killdeer, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Shrike, American Robin, Cassin’s Finch, and Common Redpoll.

Several species often found on the count were not reported this year including any accipiter or falcon, Pileated Woodpecker (first ever miss), Canada Goose, and Pine Grosbeak. Raptors were limited. The usual Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk, and Bald Eagle were sighted. Finch numbers were very low with only small numbers of Red Crossbills and House Finches and very low to none for other finches.  By Ellen Sullivan

Libby CBC December 17

The 53rd Libby Christmas Bird Count took place Saturday, December 17 with 10 field observers and four feeder watchers. The day was calm and partly clear with a low in the morning of 15, and an afternoon high of 28, with 4 to 6 inches of snow on the ground. Forty-one species and 1,242 total birds were recorded.

The most important feature in our circle is about 20 miles of Kootenai River corridor. Seasonal lead-up and count day weather along with Libby Dam discharge water flows, which can fluctuate from 4,000 to 27,000 CFS, have an enormous effect on our river count. Floating the river is by far the most effective way to survey bird life. Our floaters were unable to float this year, which had a huge impact on our numbers. Bald Eagles were abundant with 72 counted, 59 adults and 13 juveniles, but that number was undoubtedly low without our river floaters. No unusual or noteworthy species were observed.  By Gene Reckin

Troy CBC December 31

  Troy’s count was held on Saturday, December 31. We had 14 people in the field and five feeder counters. Total species were 40, with total individuals at 1,065. Species numbers were low as were individuals. We had seven species for count week. Conditions were tough, with deep hard snow and plenty of ice on our roads, temps were moderate which made things a litter easier.

  Highlights were a first year Harris’s Sparrow (showing itself off and on since late November), a lone American Tree Sparrow (unusual for our timbered Troy area) and eight Trumpeter Swans (2nd time in 30 years, I believe). Noticeably absent this year (like everyone else) were our finch species and just higher bird numbers in general.

  We were not able to get someone by boat to cover our 14 miles of the Kootenai River, as the river was low making many areas snow-free and attractive to birds, but unattainable to the bird watcher.  By Don Jones