2023 Nantucket Christmas Bird Count Results

Libby Buck, Linda Loring Nature Foundation •

2 Nantucket Christmas Count Birders Searching for Common Gull by Mike Tucker
Nantucket CBC Birders Searching for a Common Gull. Photo by Mike Tucker

The National Audubon Society was celebrating the 124th year of the Christmas Bird Count program this year, and it was Nantucket’s 69th year of participating in it.

Edie Ray. Photo by Vern Laux

This year's Nantucket Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was organized as a special event in memory of Edie Ray (1952-2023), who spent many years co-compiling the CBC. Edie Ray was an enthusiastic bird conservationist who shared her knowledge and compassion with everyone around her. She was an inspiration to many birders who respected her devotion to the CBC and her contribution to making it a remarkable event. Some participants have been counting birds on Nantucket with Edie for over 40 years, and this year's Christmas Bird count was a perfect way to commemorate Edie's life by having everyone birding together, doing what she loved and was so passionate about.

From the preliminary results, we counted 128 species and 83,626 individual birds. The rare species sightings included an Eared Grebe, Western Tanager, Lark Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, Common Gull (Kamchatka), Lincoln Sparrow, Painted Bunting, Common Gallinule, Tufted Duck, and Sedge Wren. 

An eared grebe. Photo by Allison Black

The Eared Grebe was a new species added to the Nantucket list this year. That doesn’t happen every year for a new species to be added to the overall list from all the Nantucket counts. Other highlights included an overall high count of Red-throated Loons (9,355), Double-crested Cormorants (75), and Great Egrets (9). This year, we observed Long-eared, Northern Saw-whet, and Barn Owls, but no Short-eared or Snowy Owls.

Please note that the species list is still under review and has not yet been finalized. Therefore, the numbers may change slightly. We missed some birds, including Ring-necked Pheasant, Peregrine Falcon, Killdeer, Eastern Bluebirds, Brown Thrasher, and Wood Duck. If you spotted any of these species on count day (December 31st) or during count week (December 28th to January 3rd), please contact Libby via email at lbuck@llnf.org. During the count week, we keep a record of bird species that are not observed on the count day but are seen three days before and after the count day. If certain bird species are not observed on the count day but are seen during the count week, we also document them.

7 Hooded Merganser by Yvonne Valliancourt
A Hooded Merganser. Photo by Yvonne Vaillancourt
6 Downy Woodpecker by Yvonne Valliancourt
A Downy Woodpecker. Photo by Yvonne Vaillancourt
3 Tucker Taylor and Kelsey Cabral birding for the Quaise Section by Yvonne Valliancourt
Tucker Taylor and Kelsey Cabral birding for the Quaise Section. Photo by Yvonne Vaillancourt
4 Compilation Meeting 2023 by Patrick Dugan
Christmas Bird Count Compilation Meeting. Photo by Patrick Dugan

With the help of over 70 dedicated volunteers, including locals and off-islanders with diverse levels of expertise, we could cover every inch of the island. Their passion and commitment to making a difference truly made a significant impact. Thanks to the diligence of our 12 FeederWatchers, we were able to spot some key birds that the field observers missed. Their efforts remind us that every contribution counts. We are truly grateful to everyone who was involved in making this happen! If you would like to volunteer for next year's bird count the date is December 29th, 2024, please email nantucketbirdcount@gmail.com to be added to the email list.

Lark Sparrow by Mike Tucker
Lark Sparrow. Photo by Mike Tucker
Common Gull in flight Kamchatka by Mike Tucker
Common Gull in flight. Photo by Mike Tucker
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