94th Annual Portland Christmas Bird Count a Success!

By Candace Larson and Joe Liebezeit

On January 4, 2020, the 94th Annual Portland Christmas Bird Count (CBC) began under surprisingly pleasant skies. By the end of the day, a stalwart and somewhat soggy corps of 269 field birders (a new record!) plus 112 feeder watchers had tallied 122 species and nearly 70,000 individual birds, all seen and heard within our 15-mile diameter count circle. Tremendous thanks to the area leaders—Colby Neuman, Dan Strong, Lynn Herring, Carol Murdock and Bird Alliance of Oregon staffer Joe Liebezeit—for orchestrating the field component with their usual tenacity and grace.

Three Christmas Bird Count participants reviewing the list of birds they have seen.
Christmas Bird Count Participants

The Portland CBC feeds into a data set that encompasses over 1,000 CBC count circles across North America and as far south as Brazil. This was the 120th year for the CBC, making it one of the longest running large-scale data sets in existence. Hundreds of studies have been published using CBC data, and findings have been used to inform climate change science as well as important management and conservation decisions that have helped protect birds across their flyways.

On Portland’s count, Lori Hennings documented a Townsend’s Solitaire in the Beaverton sector, winning this year’s coveted “eagle eye” award.  Congratulations, Lori! Other notable birds this year included Ring-necked Pheasant, Black-crowned Night-heron, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Pygmy Owl, Tree Swallow, American Dipper and Swamp Sparrow. High numbers of Lesser Scaup, Brown Creeper and Lesser Goldfinch were observed, and a record six Black Phoebes were recorded on the count! The five species sighted most included Cackling Goose, American Robin, American Crow, European Starling, and Lesser Scaup.

Heartfelt thanks to all the area leaders, field counters, and feeder watchers for making this year’s Portland CBC another outstanding success. We look forward to seeing you again next year. In the coming months, stay tuned for a report of 80-year wintering bird population trends using long-term data from the Portland CBC. Read more about this on-going effort in the December 2019 Warbler (pages 13-14).  

If you’d like to help out as a community scientist on the 2020 CBC or another project, please visit our Community Science webpage to check out all the exciting opportunities.  We’d love to have you join! in!