- Gunnison Christmas Bird Count
Usually the most outstanding thing about the Gunnison Christmas Bird Count
is the cold. Indeed, when a participant from Montrose was asked why he came
to Gunnison instead of staying Montrose Sunday and helping with that count,
he replied with a big grin, "It's too hot down there!" Zero degree
temperatures, gray skies, and lightly falling snow greeted 18 hardy birders
who participated in the 42nd Gunnison CBC. However, we all agreed on one
thing - it could have been much colder. Early season sub-zero temperatures,
lack of open water, and widespread snow cover most likely contributed to the
low number of birds found this year. As birders scattered to cover their
territories, it often seemed there were more birders than birds around.
This year's CBC turned up 47 species, which is a "low average" number for
diversity. However, many of these species were represented by one bird. For
example, counters were only able to find single individuals of Great Blue
Heron, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, and Belted Kingfisher. Bald
Eagles were present in average numbers, but only two Sharp-shinned Hawks,
one Merlin, one Prairie Falcon, and a lone Red-tailed Hawk were seen.
Rough-legged Hawks were nowhere to be seen.
The number of individuals counted, 3,777, was average, kept high by good
numbers of Rosy-finches, a Gunnison winter specialty, and birds that are
well adapted to co-existing with humans, such as House Sparrows, European
Starlings, American Crows, Black-billed Magpies, and Common Ravens.
Interestingly, raven numbers, usually very high in Gunnison County during
the winter, were down significantly this year. A newcomer to our area, the
Eurasian-collared Dove, is doing well, increasing to 52 birds from 3 birds
just two years ago.
Other than the low numbers, the only other surprises this year were a single
Eared Grebe, the first ever seen during the CBC, and 15 very hardy American
Robins still hanging around.