A traditional event yielded some surprising results.
The Clermont County Park District’s 19th annual winter bird count took place Saturday, Jan. 12, despite the first significant snow of the year.
Bird counters at Shor Park, Sycamore Park, Kelley Nature Preserve and Chilo Lock 34 Park spotted 43 different species and recorded about 1,100 birds.
“A few things of note were the cedar waxwings – which hadn’t been observed in years – and a golden-crowned kinglet and hermit thrushes I observed at Shor,” said Naturalist Alyssa Rooks. “There was a good array of woodpeckers, too. I was surprised to see a pileated woodpecker at Shor. You expect to see them in slightly more mature or thicker wooded areas.”
Viewing conditions proved challenging.
“Visibility was tough with the snowfall in the first couple hours,” Rooks said. “The birds were harder to pinpoint and identify with wet binoculars. Far less waterfowl were observed in the estuary at Crooked Run, possibility due to less migration from the mild winter so far.”
(Last year at this time – with temperatures much colder – a king eider spent a few days on the Ohio River at Chilo, drawing bird watchers from about eight states.)
The Park District winter bird count follows on the heels of the National Audubon Society’s Christmas bird count, which has been going on for more than a century.
Rooks said the counts – both local and national – are important for several reasons.
“It helps us have an idea of how many bird species are using our parks and benefitting from the habitats we protect,” she said. “It’s interesting to keep an eye out for things you expect to see at certain times of year, but also for things you don’t.
“Birds can be indicator species. If you don’t see birds, what else might not be there in a certain habitat?”
Check out the 2019 winter bird count numbers – and all the data since 2000 – with the Cumulative Bird Count Totals table.