by Craig Hohenberger, compiler

The 44th annual Bigfork Christmas Bird Count was held Saturday, December 16th, under cloudy skies and mild weather conditions; snow depth 1-4 inches, temperatures ranged from 28-34 degrees F with little or no wind. Rivers and lakes were mostly open and there was a little ice on Flathead Lake at the edges.

Thirty-nine volunteer participants counted 18,847 individual birds of 98 species (a new record for the Bigfork CBC), up from 79 species recorded last year. The overall number of birds increased from last year by about 34%, mostly because of the mild fall/winter. There was one new bird species found this year, a 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull! Highlights were twenty-five Snow Geese, Cackling Goose, Wood Duck, Glaucous Gull, one ad. female Peregrine Falcon, Sandhill Crane, one imm. Snowy Owl, a female Yellow-headed Blackbird, sixteen Rusty Blackbirds, and a Brown-headed Cowbird. There was one Gray Partridge and one Evening Grosbeak seen during count week. We had a record high of 39 Western Grebes, 55 Trumpeter Swans, 526 Ring-necked Ducks, 765 Greater Scaup, 231 Hooded Mergansers, 82 Bald Eagles, 4 Merlins, 11 Killdeer, 5 Wilson Snipe, and 172 Eurasian Collared-Doves for the count!

Thank you to all the great participants who helped make this a best CBC count ever!