Summary of the 2018 Audubon Christmas Bird Count
for the Wekiva Count Circle
In the 2018 Wekiva Christmas Bird Count (CBC), 53 people endured a relatively rainy and very cloudy day to identify 132 species, and 14,595 individual birds. The number of species observed was slightly higher than the 128 species we have averaged over the last 10 years.
The 10 species with the highest number of individuals observed on the count were: fish crow (3607), American robin (1142), black vulture (716), tree swallow (668), white ibis (627), red-winged blackbird (575), turkey vulture (346), yellow-rumped warbler (320), boat-tailed grackle (319), and palm warbler (302). We observed more than 100 individuals of 32 species; we saw 5 or less of 38 species and only 1 individual of 18 species.
Other interesting aspects of this year’s count included:
* “Rare” birds in this year’s count included American redstart, summer tanager, northern waterthrush and yellow-crowned night heron. All these birds are commonly observed in the region or abundant in other seasons in the Wekiva basin, but their lack of regularity in the Wekiva CBC necessitated completion of a rare bird form.
* Three species of birds were not detected during the 2018 count though they had been observed on at least 20 of 28. These included northern harrier, herring gull and eastern meadowlark. There continues to be a dramatic decline in eastern meadowlarks, particularly in the last 5 years – we observed 315 in 2007!
* Black-bellied whistling ducks continue to be observed in relatively high numbers – they have now been observed in the last 9 counts, and 275 were observed this year.
* Wild turkeys, which were not common in the Wekiva basin 30 years ago, have also become firmly ensconced in the count circle, including residential neighborhoods. Nine-two were observed this year, which was near the all-time high.
* Including this year, a single horned grebe has been counted 10 times during the Wekiva count – never any more.
* We had a near low count of the highly nomadic wood stork (8), but they have been observed on every count.
* We observed high numbers of American white pelicans (43), grasshopper sparrow (5) and least bitterns (3), which have only been observed on 4 counts.
* We observed only one northern flicker. Northern flicker numbers have been declining from a high of 55, 25-years ago.
* We have not observed a hairy woodpecker in 9 years, but they were observed in 15 of the early years of the count,
* We only observed one house finch, a bird that has recently become common in central Florida – we observed a high number of 16 in 2014. I had wondered if this species would be more prevalent since it has now been observed in 10 of the latest counts.