Welcome to the Christmas Bird Count results from Winter 2011 - 2012. These are personal observations from the compilers. Eventually, we will post a spreadsheet of all the results once it is compiled and prepared by Brandon Percival.

The 2011-2012 Westcliffe Christmas Bird Count counted 1094 birds of 43 species, close to the 23-year average of 44.6 species.  However, the number of birds appears to be low (waiting to get the 23 year average).

Only one bird was found for the following species: Great Blue Heron, American Kestrel, Hairy Woodpecker, and Red-winged Blackbird.  Only 2 American Robins were found, as well as only 2 Black-capped Chickadees and 2 American Goldfinches, species which we would expect to see in a larger number.  Some species that were expected but not found on count day include Bald Eagle (16 of 23 years), Golden Eagle (16 of 23 years), Northern Shrike (20 of 23 years) and Brown Creeper (21 of 23 years).

Highlights included a number of Red Crossbill pairs nesting in the Ponderosa Pines at the east end of  Lake DeWeese.   Red Crossbills are one of the few species known to nest year round, so it was delightful to actually find them picking up nesting material from the ground and taking it to their nest.   Other highlights included 2 Great Horned Owls found again in their barn near St. Andrew’s Golf Course after an absence of a couple of years, Wild Turkey, found only 3 times in 23 years, and Ferruginous Hawk, found only in 7 of 23 years. Also of interest was the sighting of White-tailed Deer in the valley.

The ten participants included:  Dave Silverman, Mark Prebble, Paul Snyder, Leon and Treva Bright, Steve and Margaret Linderer, Anne Hanson, Steve Somora and Jane Pedersen.
Submitted by Jane Pedersen

The Rocky Ford CBC was held Thursday, Dec. 15 with nine participants.  We found 92 species, about average for the count.  Two new count birds included a Brant found at Cheraw Lake by Nick Moore and Mark Peterson (they had six species of geese at Cheraw) and four Sandhill Cranes first seen as flyovers by Dan Maynard and Kathy Mihm Dunning and later found standing on the ice at Holbrook Lake by Nick and Mark.

Stan Oswald
Rocky Ford

Penrose:  First, thank you very much to all who came out and helped.  Every group noted the lack of birds and the total individuals shows as over the last eight years we have averaged over 19,000 individuals while this year we were just over 9,000.  That being said, where we lacked in individuals we made up in total species.  We tied last years total of 117 which is only three off of our all-time high.  Last year we had over 20,000 individuals though.  So an extra thank you to the participants for working so hard to find all the different species you did.

Of note were waterfowl.  Although we typically do fine on waterfowl this year we did outstanding.  We had 5 species of geese for the first time ever and ROSS'S GOOSE (2) was new for the count and our only new for count species.  We had four species of waterfowl that set new high counts:  Wood Duck, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Hooded Merganser, well and of course Ross's Goose.  We had 10 other species that either tied or set a new high count.  Marsh Wren doubled the previous high count going from 8 to 16.  Most years we struggle to get 2 or 3 of these little guys.

On the other side of that, Rock Pigeon was really an all-time low.  Technically the first 3 years of the count were lower but that is really do to total party hours.  In the last eight years we have averaged almost 900 whereas this year we only managed 252, perfectly fine by me!  But on the other hand, Eurasian Collared-Dove set an all-time high.  After setting a national high last year with 19 Williamson's Sapsuckers we were unable to find any on count day this year.  I had known about two just prior to count but neither were found on count day.  We did have four YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKERS, 2 adult males and 2 juveniles.  Over the past eight years we have averaged about 6,400 European Starlings whereas this year we only could muster 964 which again is an all-time low if you do not count the first two years of the count.
Mark Peterson
Colorado Springs

Here is a list of the "highlights:"

Greater White-fronted Goose - 10
Snow Goose - 1
Ross's Goose - 2
Ruddy Duck - 2 (very tough to get on this count)
Western Grebe - 1 (see Ruddy Duck comment)
Merlin - 0 (the big miss)
Sora - 2 (high count)
White-winged Dove - 10
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 4
Black Phoebe - 1

Loggerhead Shrike - 1 (not super noteworthy but we have not had one for a while)
Pacific Wren - 1 (private property with no access)
Hermit Thrush - 1
Northern Mockingbird - 1
Rufous-crowned Sparrow - 1
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 1
Harris's Sparrow - 5
Northern Cardinal - 1 (female coming to a private feeder)
Lesser Goldfinch - 10


Pueblo Resv.:  We had a good turn out at the compilation potluck dinner at compiler Mark Yaeger's Art Gallery, in downtown Pueblo this evening.  With everyone's lists present, we came up with an amazing 127 species (2nd best ever for the count --129 is the record for this count and the state of Colorado)!  A huge thanks to all the participants, we have a small group of local birders down here in the Pueblo Area, and we are always thrilled to have the help of many fine birders from far away.  Without their help, there is no way that we can find so many bird species.  So, thanks again to everyone for coming.  It was a beautiful day, except for the 14 degree start.  It was sunny all day, and no wind, which is always very nice!

A quick rundown of some of the rarer birds for the count that were found:
Greater White-fronted Goose (2)
Snow Goose (1) 
Ross's Goose (1)
Greater Scaup (several)
Surf Scoter (1)
White-winged Scoter (1)
Barrow's Goldeneye (4)
Pacific Loon (1)
Common Loon (3)
all the uncommon winter grebes (lots), except Red-necked
Double-crested Cormorant (few)
Northern Goshawk (1)
Rough-legged Hawk (1)
Peregrine Falcon (1)
eight species of gulls:
Bonaparte's, Thayer's (2), Lesser Black-backed (6), Glaucous (1), Great Black-backed (1)
White-winged Dove (under 50 I believe)
Greater Roadrunner (1)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (1)
Black Phoebe (4)
Say's Phoebe (1)
Pygmy Nuthatch (4)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (2)
Eastern Bluebird (1)
Western Bluebird (only 1)
Northern Mockingbird (2)
Common Yellowthroat (1)
rarer sparrows: Lincoln's (3), Swamp (5), White-throated (1), Harris's (1), 
Rusty Blackbird (7)
Cassin's Finch (1)
Lesser Goldfinch (2)

Hope I didn't forget anything, and the numbers are from memory.
Brandon Percival
Pueblo West, CO


The new (but not improved) Audubon CBC website is finally up and running, and many CO CBCs are now posted including the Lake Isabel & Spanish Peaks CBCs. Access it on <birds.audubon.org/data-research>, then click on "current year" on right side of the screen. Count week birds not seen on Count Day are posted in the numbers column as "0" instead of the former "cw" icon on the old website. Names of compiler and participants are not included on the new website. I have recommended the importance of including these names. Why Audubon abandoned a perfectly good data base for this partially disfunctional new one, is beyond my comprehension.
 
The 23rd Spanish Peaks CBC(12-24-11) tallied 42 species, about an average total & not bad with +2 ft. of snow covering much of the circle. Bevery Jensen's yard again treated all participants with some nice Xmas eye candy, including all three Rosy Finch species with Gray-crowned and Brown-capped hitting count highs. Eurasian Collared Doves also reached a count high continuing their Colorado conquest. Pinyon Jays made their usual Xmas season visit to Paul and Polly Neldner's yard. The Neldner's also found a Great Blue Heron for only the 2nd time on 23 counts. Thanks also to the Neldners for lunch and compilation venues.
 
The 42nd Lake Isabel CBC(1-1-12) tallied 52 species, the lowest total in 34 years. It's been a rough year for birds & birders in this Count Circle, and a dry fall and bitter cold snowy December may not be the full explanation. Other area foothill & mountain counts with similar conditions posted average or above average totals. Perhaps humanity's recent demographic increases and subsequent growth and economic development degrading area ecosystems and tapping out scarce water resources have made it more difficult for wildlife to cope with the adverse weather conditions this fall & winter. The Greenhorn Valley lacks the water resources of Count Circles nearer the Arkansas River which tolerate greater human interaction with bird popilations. With an over 550,000 human population increase projected for the Pueblo/El Paso County region by mid-century, the bird situation looks grim. 
 
But a few Count hilites did provide some good news. Margie Joy's careful study of some ravens payed off as Chihuahuans. Separating them from Common Ravens can be a real challenge, so thanks to Margie. Clark's Nutcracker's are not often seen in Rye, but Pearle & Clif Smith found them right in town with their special knack for finding these birds recorded on <l/2 the Counts. The long present Mockingbird showed for several observers, only the 3rd one in 42 counts. And the long drawling whistles of a Harris's Sparrow made this bird an easy find just west of Lake Beckwith.
 
Dave Silverman, compiler
Lake Isabel/Spanish Peaks CBCs