Summary of Results from the 2011 Woodbury Route Breeding Bird Survey

Eastern Towhee photo by Bob Nicks
Savannah Sparrow photo by Paul Fusco
Blue-winged Warbler photo by Brian Zweibel
Brown Thrasher photo by Paul Fusco
As a follow-up to my last posting about the results of last summer's Breeding Bird Survey of the Warren-to-Northfield route, here are the results of the survey of the Woodbury-to-Goshen route that I conducted on July 4th. I thought that by doing this on this date I would avoid a lot of the annoyances caused by vehicular traffic on weekdays. Wrong! Actually, I was right that there would be very little traffic during the early morning, but it picked up considerably after 8:30 a.m. This was especially true on State Routes 109 and 202. Despite the traffic, this survey produced 3 more species and 582 more individual birds than last year. The 72 species found this year is a little above average and the 1,910 individual birds recorded is about 400 more than average. It certainly helped that weather conditions were absolutely gorgeous this day. Besides sunshine, there was only a light breeze and low humidity. It also helped that the destruction of land for housing and other developments ground to a halt along this route 3 years ago and hasn't resumed. We can be cautiously optimistic that Brown Thrashers (3), a Blue-winged Warbler, 17 Eastern Towhees, and a Savannah Sparrow were found along this route this year. All 4 of these grassland/shrubland species are hurting across much of their range. A fifth member of this habitat group, the Indigo Bunting, was found along this route this year in the form of 10 individuals, but this marks the second year of a decline in their numbers. Species noticeably less common this year than last year included Tree Swallow (probably due to June being so cold and wet) and Ovenbird (maybe because they sing a lot less in July than in June). Only 9 other species were less numerous this year than last year. By contrast, 56 species were found to be in higher numbers this year than last year. This tracks with the findings from the Summer Bird Counts that were held in June. However, as I said in the last blog posting, it is impossible to detect all of the birds at each of the 50 stops because the standardized protocol has us spending only 3 minutes at each stop. As it is, some people think that I'm hallucinating because I get so many birds at many of these spots in such a short time. It is simply a matter of having excellent hearing and knowing what I'm hearing. Very few of the birds on these surveys are actually seen. Getting back to the birds, themselves, the species showing the biggest increases over last year were Chipping Sparrow, Gray Catbird, American Goldfinch, Cedar Waxwing, American Robin, Veery, Red-eyed Vireo, Tufted Titmouse, and House Sparrow. Most of these species are highly adaptable. The 5 most abundant species this year, in decreasing order of abundance, were American Robin, Gray Catbird, Chipping Sparrow, American Goldfinch, and Tufted Titmouse.

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