Salt Lake City Christmas Bird Count
reported by Mark Stackhouse

The Salt Lake City CBC was held on Sunday, Dec. 15. We had one of the warmest days, and nicest weather in general, that we've had in many years. There was almost no snow in the entire count circle, and all the water was open. Several groups mentioned having to dodge golf balls on the courses - it's the first time since I've been doing the count that I've even seen golfers out oncount day. We also had more counters out than we've had for many years, meaning we had good coverage into most areas. In spite of (or maybe because of) these good conditions, our species count was one of the lowest we've had recently.

We saw 84 species on count day, and another 5 during count week, for a total of 89 for this count. Missing were a number of northern and high altitude species which apparently hadn't arrived in the valley yet, including Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing, Cassin's Finch and Evening Grosbeak. We also missed a number of species we  usually get, such as Cooper's Hawk, Common Snipe, Hairy Woodpecker, Winter Wren, and Harris's Sparrow (in spite of the fact that one was seen in the count circle just before count week began). Waterfowl were also a bit thin in the count, probably because there was so much open water. On the bright side, we did have a few good birds; Terry Sadler and Jack Holley had a White Pelican, Sylvia Gray and company found a Blue Grouse in the city cemetary, Edson Liete saw a Ruffed Grouse in Dry Canyon (I think this is the first time we've had both grouse in the same count), Bob Walters and June Ryburn had a bunch of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and Larene Wyss, David Wheeler, Glen Warchol and I saw 3 Hooded Mergansers by the airport and some Pygmy Nuthatches in Liberty Park (we had all three nuthatches there). We managed four species of owls, with Barn, Western Screech-, Great Horned and Northern Pygmy-Owls. In the numbers department, 19 Lesser Yellowlegs was noteable, as was 185 Mourning Doves (maybe a count high) and 92 American Pipits. The 18,357 starlings was entirely too normal . . .

Overall, it was a great day to be out, and I think a good time was had by all, including a 7-year old girl, who was one of our youngest counters in recent years.

My thanks to everyone who helped, and, like Merrill, I'd urge you to participate in Utah's remaining CBC's.