2017 Christmas Bird Count Sets New Record in Brodhead Area

On a chilly mid-December day, Quentin Yoerger and nine other volunteers, including Aaron Haycraft, Andy Paulios, David Huset, Fred Dike, Marty Evanson, Mike Ramsden, Rebecca Gilman, Tom Klubertanz, and Susan Lehnhardt systematically surveyed a circular plot with a 15-mile radius centered over Brodhead, recording each bird species observed and counting their numbers.  Their windshield and on-the-ground searches focused on the wide-ranging natural and cultural habitats that occupy this part of the Lower Sugar River Watershed, including backyard feeders.  

By the end of the day, they had set a new record for the number of species found on the Brodhead count—56 species on the day of the count (December 14), plus an additional three “count week” species.  In addition, they tallied 7,043 individual birds, which is above the 13 year average of 6,328 in the Brodhead area.  More on the 2017 results below.  In the meantime…

What is the Christmas Bird Count?

The National Audubon Society has been sponsoring Christmas Bird Counts across North America for more than 100 years.  It is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, with tens of thousands of professional and amateur bird watchers participating every year. The post-migration, early winter data is an important contribution to understanding resident and migratory bird population trends.  To learn more about the CBC and how to get involved, go to the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology website  or contact your local bird organization Green Rock Audubon Society and the Ned Hollister Bird Club.  

More on the Brodhead CBC results:

The complete history of the count beginning in 2005 can be found in a spreadsheet here

This year, three new species included a Northern Saw-whet Owl, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and two Harris's Sparrows (see photo of sparrow here).  Seven species of sparrow are a new high, but, as Quentin noted, they missed out on Song Sparrow for the first time ever!  

Several species were found in 2017 for only the second time ever.  (Note:  “cw” means “count week”, additional birds observed during the week of the CBC.)

Species Number   Species Number
 Red-shouldered hawk  cw    Field Sparrow  cw
 Short-eared owl  1    Common grakle  1
 Merlin  cw      


Record high numbers were found for the following species in 2017 and are compared to previous high records:

Species Number   Species Number
 Nothern harrier  7 (previous high of  4)    Red-breasted  nuthatch  8 (6)
 Rock pigeon  883 (456)    Winter wren  2 (1)
 Belted kingfisher  4 (2)    Eastern bluebird  29 (28)
 Red-bellied  woodpecker  49 (46)    Purple finch  8 (5)
 Blue jay  162 (142)    Common redpoll  10 (1)

Complete 2017 list

Species Number   Species Number
 Canada goose  262    Black-capped chickadee  99
 Wood duck  1    Tufted titmouse  5
 Mallard  19    Red-breasted nuthatch  8
 Ring-necked pheasant  4    White-breasted nuthatch  66
 Wild turkey  113    Brown creeper  2
 Nothern harrier  7    Winter wren  2
 Sharp-shinned hawk  2    Eastern bluebird  29
 Cooper's hawk  4    American robin  2
 Bald eagle  5    Eastern starling  3,072
 Red-shouldered hawk  cw    Cedar waxwing  58
 Red-tailed hawk  51    Lapland longspur  46
 Rough-legged hawk  3    Yellow-rumped warbler  1
 Rock Pigeon  883    American tree sparrow  402
 Eurasian collared dove  15    Field sparrow  cw
 Mourning dove  182    Dark-eyed junco  812
 Nothern saw-whet owl  1    Harris's sparrow  2
 Great horned owl  3    White-crowned sparrow  8
 Short-eared owl  1    White-throated sparrow  3
 Belted kingfisher  4    Swamp sparrow  1
 Red-headed woodpecker  1    Nothern cardinal  136
 Red-bellied woodpecker  49    Red-winged blackbird  5
 Downy woodpecker  51    Common grackle  1
 Hairy woodpecker  19    Brown-headed cowbird  4
 Nothern flicker  1    House finch  131
 American Kestrel  12    Purple finch  8
 Merlin  cw    Commom redpoll  10
 Nothern shrike  1    Pine siskin  15
 Blue jay  162    American goldfinch  129
 Horned lark  171      
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