The 5-month Marietta Area Winter Bird Count - November through March sponsored by the Marietta Natural History Society - has been completed. The migrants are drifting back for the nesting season as the leaves begin to come out providing food for the insects that the migrant birds rely on to feed their young.
This was our fourteenth year, and the big surprise is that six new species were reported: Becky Wright had a pine warbler, Susan Ellis had a rusty blackbird, Keith and Rana Worstell a Baltimore oriole, Caroline and Mark Seely an indigo bunting, Barb Hohman a kestrel and Brad Bond a fox sparrow. All but the kestrel sound like early or late migrants, but three were seen in the middle winter months.
Lucine Wright came up with the most species, 31, followed by Becky Wright, 28, Barb Hohmann, 27, and Susan Ellis, Marianne Bradley and newcomer Duane Stone tied at 26 each. Participation was down this year due to deaths in the family, departures and not enough time, but all told we fed at least 2698 birds and 54 species.
What's changed over the years? We see a lot more cedar waxwings, robins and cowbirds than we used to and a lot fewer house sparrows. Goldfinches and mourning doves have about tripled while the overall count has about doubled with 14 participants. Nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, blue jays, house finches and chickadees have stayed about the same. We're getting better at looking for and/or recognizing unusual species.
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