The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Volunteers spot 132 bird species during Christmas count

Volunteers spot 132 species during the Everett-Marysville Christmas count

  • A snowy owl sits on the roof of Everett High School in Everett in December. Various crows swooped by harassing the owl, but the owl refused to move.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    A snowy owl sits on the roof of Everett High School in Everett in December. Various crows swooped by harassing the owl, but the owl refused to move.

MARYSVILLE -- During the annual Everett-Marysville Christmas Bird Count, volunteers counted more then 30,000 birds in a 15-mile radius, spanning from downtown Everett north to Island Crossing and from south Camano Island east to Sisco Heights and Getchell Hill.
The count involved 53 field observers and seven at-home bird watchers who spotted 132 species, said Scott Atkinson, who compiles the data for the local count.
The bird enthusiasts used their eyes and ears to identify common species and used audio recordings to count hard-to-see species, such as owls. The 2012 Everett-Marysville tally marked the highest number of volunteer counters in many years and an average number of birds counted, Atkinson said.
"We were fortunate to find as many birds as we did, given the weather," Atkinson said in a statement.
Chilly temperatures, wind and afternoon rain made the count a challenge.
Jetty Island and the adjacent waterfront were among the hot spots, Atkinson said.
A snowy owl was back, hidden in the Jetty Island driftwood, and was one of a six owl species found during the count. Also on the Everett waterfront, Rick Taylor photographed several semipalmated plovers, a bird of the sandpiper group that is common in spring and fall, but very rarely winters in the Puget Sound region, Atkinson said.
The north Everett area overall produced counts of more than 70 bird species again this year, the second highest of all 15 territories in the Everett-Marysville area. Nearly 8,000 northern pintail ducks were counted near Spencer Island, a new record high for the local count.
Near Arlington Airport, a flock of 20 Lapland longspurs was seen and heard, and a common redpoll finch joined the more-common pine siskins on Spencer Island. And the former berry farm now owned by the Port of Everett, another traditional hot birding spot, provided a range of raptors, hundreds of wintering sparrows of seven species, and a roosting barn owl.
Atkinson said he takes the possibility of double counting into account when he tabulates the results. More often, however, the smaller birds are undercounted, and anything out of the ordinary has to be documented by a photo or substantiated by other observers, he said.
The Christmas Bird Count, which in the Everett area has been held annually since 1976, has drawn increasing interest from state and federal agencies as a means of tracking regional bird population trends, Atkinson said.
Across Washington state, more than 30 bird counts are annual events during the week of Christmas.
How to help
To join the bird count next year, contact Scott Atkinson at scottatkinson@hotmail.com.
Story tags » Bird-watching

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