Jim Lind posted results from the Duluth and Two Harbors Christmas Bird Counts on the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union’s e-mail listserv, and there certainly were surprises.
Three species were seen that have never been reported before during the weekend Christmas counts: black-headed grosbeak and Barrow’s goldeneye in Duluth and chipping sparrow in both Duluth and Two Harbors. Chipping sparrows are common here, just not in the winter. But the Barrow’s goldeneye and black-headed grosbeak are, as I understand it, primarily western birds. There has been quite a bit of excitement about that grosbeak, which has been hanging out at someone’s feeders in far eastern Duluth.
Overall, more than 50 observers spotted 60 species during Saturday’s Duluth count, with record highs for eight birds: common goldeneye; hairy woodpecker; red-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper, American robin, cedar waxwing, white-winged crossbill and American goldfinch.
On the other hand, five birds that ordinarily are seen weren’t this year: bufflehead, northern goshawk, gray jay, snow bunting and evening grosbeak.
In Two Harbors, the count was on Sunday, and nearly 30 observers spotted 46 species. They saw record-high numbers of six birds: mourning dove, red-breasted nuthatch, cedar waxwing, dark-eyed junco, white-winged crossbill and American goldfinch.
Interesting about the red-breasted nuthatches. I’ve had unusually heavy activity from these fun little birds at my suet feeders for the past several weeks. I like their "beep-beep" warning calls — they sound like little European cars.
P.S. Thanks for your votes on the mystery bird in my preceding post. So far, we have votes for red-tailed hawk, peregrine falcon and osprey. You can comment on the tab below, or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.