97th Annual Portland Christmas Bird Count Breaks Records!

On December 31, 2022, Portland conducted the 97th annual Christmas Bird Count under mild and mostly dry skies—a real treat after the icy conditions leading up to the big day. We broke the record on number of field observers at 270, and over 100 joined in from their feeders! Altogether, these intrepid volunteers tallied 125 species (2 more than the 10-year average) and an impressive 83,850 individual birds, all seen or heard within our 15-mile diameter count circle. Tremendous thanks to the area leaders—Brodie Cass Talbott, Joe Liebezeit, Lynn Herring, Carol Murdock, and Colleen McDaniel—who organized the mass of volunteers into dozens of field teams, led their own sectors, and collated the pile of data into a useable tally for the compiler.

People looking through binoculars at Christmas Bird Count

The Portland CBC feeds into a data set that encompasses over 2,500 CBC count circles across North America and as far south as Brazil. Observations allow researchers, wildlife agencies, conservation biologists, and others to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across the count area. This was the 123rd 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 informed climate-change science as well as important management and conservation decisions that help protect birds across their flyways.

On Portland’s count, David Leal detected a Cassin’s Vireo in the trees at Alberta Park—a first for our count circle. This is an impressive discovery in December, and it earned David the coveted “eagle eye” award, bestowed on the birder who finds the most unexpected species of the day. Congratulations, David! Other new birds for our count circle included 2 Brandt’s Cormorants, 6 Trumpeter Swans, and 100 American White Pelicans. Keen observers added a pile of uncommon species, including a Harris’s Sparrow and a Least Sandpiper, 2 Western Tanagers, and a whopping 8 Acorn Woodpeckers found across 6 different sectors!

The five most-encountered species were Cackling Goose, Canada Goose, American Robin, American Crow, and Dark-eyed Junco. Anna’s Hummingbird numbers climbed to a record 944, and 15 Black Phoebes were seen across the count circle, more than doubling the previous high count. Several other species also exceeded their past peaks, including Eurasian Collared-Dove, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bewick’s Wren, and both White-throated and White-crowned Sparrow. Lesser Goldfinches continued their rise, and woodpeckers also made a strong showing, with Downy, Hairy, and Flicker numbers all breaking records. On the flip side, we barely squeaked out one Purple Finch and dipped entirely on Greater White-fronted Goose for the third year running.

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. If you’d like to help out as a community scientist on the 2023 CBC or another project, please visit our website to check out the exciting opportunities. We’d love to have you join us!

To learn more about Community Science and how you can participate, visit:

Community Science