Results of Fall Bird Counts and a Fall BirdBlitz Conducted in the Upper Cumberland Region during 2009
|Barn Owls are an inconspicuous part of the bird fauna, so recording them on a bird count is always rewarding; photo Stephen J. Stedman.|
Data for 141 species of birds were obtained during collective efforts—including two Fall Bird Counts (FBC) and one Fall BirdBlitz (FBB)—to monitor the birdlife of the Region this fall. This total is equal to or a bit higher than the collective totals achieved on Regional FBCs and FBBs conducted during 2008 (141), 2007 (133), 2006 (139), and 2005 (135). In the table below all 141 species are listed with data from the various counts following the species' names.
The FBC conducted in Putnam County, TN, was the 10th consecutively in that county; the FBC in White County, TN, was the 6th consecutively there; and the FBB in Clay County, TN, was the first ever in that county. To see a map of the Region highlighting counties where the FBB and the FBCs were conducted, click on the following link:
Loggerhead Shrikes were tallied only on one of the Regional counts this season, another indication that this species is slowly and seemingly inexorably disappearing from the Regional bird scene and joining two other formerly fairly common and one formerly rare species now absent or almost absent from the Regional avifauna: Red-cockaded Woodpecker (formerly rare), Bewick's Wren (formerly fairly common), and Bachman's Sparrow (formerly fairly common). Of course, the disappearance of these species from the Region was preceded by the Regional extirpation (and range-wide extinction) of the Carolina Parakeet, the Passenger Pigeon, and possibly the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
Some species such as Golden-winged Warbler that were registered during the fall surveys are undergoing long-term decreases in their Regional populations, and the detection of probable migrants from outside the Region on the fall surveys masks the true nature of their Regional status. The fact that the fall surveys resulted in the counting of two Golden-winged Warblers is not necessarily a positive sign for the small Regional breeding population of this species.
On the positive side of the avifaunistic ledger, we can see in the fall survey data modestly good numbers of some species that had become rare or very uncommon in the Region as a result of hunting pressure during the early decades of the Twentieth Century, three of these being Canada Goose, Wild Turkey, and Great Blue Heron. Significant increases in the populations of the first two species during the past three decades resulted from reintroduction efforts and presumably from more ethical hunting following reintroduction, while increases in the population of the latter species during that same period probably resulted from increasing protection afforded by such legislation as the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and associated state-level protective measures. The fall survey data also reveal the continuing presence of some non-game species that invaded the Region during the last half of the Twentieth Century, such as Brown-headed Nuthatch and Blue Grosbeak, and the presence of one small-game species, Eurasian Collared-Dove, that has invaded the Region in the past couple of decades.
Some bird species undergo irregular irruptions tied to food resource availability in parts of their ranges. For instance, the Red-breasted Nuthatch is prone to occasional southerly irruptions during winter. The appearance of this species on one of the Region's fall surveys indicates that, if such an irruption event is underway, probably as a consequence of a poor food crop in eastern Canada, it is a weak event. Whether the nuthatch irruption will be followed by irruptive movements of other boreal species during the coming winter remains to be seen.
The Regional fall survey data for 2009 are too few and thus too coarse-grained to allow us much of a glimpse of the migratory patterns for most species that occur in the Region as other than permanent residents. By viewing the fall survey data below as a means of gauging the waning numbers of summer residents over the period of time covered by the fall surveys or as a means of gauging the waxing numbers of winter residents over the same period of time, we obtain at most a somewhat obscured picture of these migratory events. To bring clarity to this picture, the Region's FBCs and FBBs will probably need to increase to about ten well spaced out events each fall. With data from that number of surveys in hand, the migratory "pulse" for each species will be much more evident than it is in the data below. Despite the coarse-grained nature of the following data, a rough image of the migratory pattern of some species can be discerned. For instance, the data for Acadian Flycatcher reveal a moderate number still present in mid-September in Putnam County but none present at the end of September in Clay County or in early October in White County; these data roughly reflect the waning numbers of this flycatcher during the last few weeks of its stay in the Region each fall. By scanning the data below for other migrants, you can judge how well the 2009 fall data reflect what we currently know about each species' migratory pattern during fall. In some cases the data are moderately accurate, but in others they just do not tell us much about the species' migratory pattern.
For greater detail about the results of the Fall Bird Counts (FBC) in Putnam and White counties, Tennessee, and the Fall BirdBlitz (FBB*) in Clay County, Tennessee, or to return to the central node for FBCs or to the BirdPage, click on one of the following links:
|Putnam, TN||Clay, TN||White, TN|
|Type of Count *||FBC||FBB||FBC|
|Number Field Observers||10||7||9|
|Number of Feederwatchers||5||3||1|
|American Black Duck||--||--||1|
|Great Blue Heron||20||6||14|
|Bald Eagle||--||2 ad||--|
|Great Horned Owl||5||1||10|
|Great Crested Flycatcher||2||--||1|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow||--||--||2|
|Black-throated Green Warbler||8||1||4|
|Putnam, TN||Clay, TN||White, TN|
Key to compilers: SJS = Stephen J. Stedman; DAD = Douglas A. Downs.
* A Fall BirdBlitz (FBB) differs from a Fall Bird Count (FBC) only in that the former is not an annually repeated count, while the latter is.
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