Nantucket Christmas Bird Count: Over 35,000 Birds And 128 Species
Nantucket Current •
The Nantucket birding community fanned out across the island on Sunday for the 68th annual Nantucket Christmas Bird Count, continuing the local version of one of the longest running citizen science projects in the world, organized by the National Audubon Society.
On each count day, the entire island is divided up into eight different sections and each one is assigned a team leader and field observers.
The preliminary numbers gathered on Sunday are: 128 species observed, comprising over 35,000 individual birds on Nantucket, according to Libby Buck, conservation science and land steward for the Linda Loring Nature Foundation. The final count will be complete within the next week, and the numbers may somewhat fluctuate.
Buck shared the following observations on this year's Christmas Bird Count:
"We didn’t have any super star rare species, unlike last year’s Magnificent Frigatebird. This count covers a wide range of species, especially finches. It was a great finch year with several flocks of Red Crossbills (127) and Common Redpolls (14) which is quite uncommon.
Nantucket’s climate lends itself well to being a perfect avian sanctuary. The moderating Atlantic waters surrounding the island, and the conserved undeveloped lands, give the birds a place to battle out the winter. For migrating birds, depending on the weather in any given year, Nantucket can be the northernmost limit for some and the southernmost limit for others. Nantucket, at times, can have special species that might survive the winter due to our uniqueness, particularly shorebirds and sea ducks. This year we had over 8,000 Common Eider, 2,800 Long Tailed ducks, nine Harlequin ducks and one (count week) King Eider. This winter seems to be fairly mild this year, increasing the number of shorebirds, to include Black-bellied Plovers, Greater Yellow-legs, Ruddy Turnstones and one rare Short-billed Dowitcher, which really should be further south this time of year.
The owls were represented by the Northern Saw-whet, Barn, and one Long Eared owl. We didn’t see any Snowy Owls or Short-eared owls this year which was very disappointing. We are hoping the Snowy Owls will show up later this winter."
"We had over 60 volunteers this year," Buck continued. "Locals and off-islanders making a special trip to help us out. The tremendous efforts of our bird feeder watchers, with one feeder watcher who yielded the only Brown Creeper for the count.
Since birds are unpredictable and may not be found on count day, we also record species not seen on count day, but are seen during count week which is three days before and after count day. Count week listings do not count toward the species total or towards the number of individuals on count day. They act more as a placeholder if a species was missed. Nantucket’s Count Week is from Dec 29th -Jan 4th, and we still need help with finding the birds that were missed on our list, which include: Wood Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Pheasant, Dovekie, Eastern Bluebird, Brown Thrasher, and Brown-headed Cowbird."
If anyone sees these species on the island up until January 4th, Christmas Bird Count organizers ask you to report the sighting to ebird or e-mail Libby Buck at email@example.com.
The finalized list will be made available to anyone that requests it. The next Nantucket Christmas Count will be December 31st, 2023. To volunteer and receive more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.