A big thank you to Kirsten Winter for writing this compilation of results:
The 73rd Oceanside Christmas Bird Count was held on December 29, 2018. It was a clear and cold day, breezy in the morning. A talented group of 121 birders logged 231 hours and 451 miles, and recorded approximately 29,100 individual birds – detecting birds at a rate of about 125 birds per hour. The total number of individual birds counted was down by about 6,000 or approximately 17% when compared with last year, possibly due to the recurring drought. Thank you to all of the team participants, and to the volunteers at the Buena Vista Audubon Nature Center who hosted the post-count lunch and compilation!
A total of 186 species was detected, which is about average for this count. The count record of 200 species was set some years ago. The most numerous bird was Yellow-rumped Warbler at 2666 individuals, showing its adaptability to various habitats and food sources. Other very numerous species included American Coot at 1993, American Wigeon at 1791, American Crow at 1446, House Finch at 1400, Bushtit at 1206, and White-crowned Sparrow at 1149 individuals.
Many rarities were detected. A Burrowing Owl was detected by Andy Mauro and team at the fallow fields near Legoland. Phil Unitt mentioned that this species was once a resident in the Oceanside CBC area, but is now present only as a rare winter migrant. Other rarities included a Chestnut-sided Warbler seen by Chris Smith and team at Batiquitos Lagoon, a female Common Goldeneye discovered by John Haddock and team at Whelan Lake, and Black and White Warblers seen by Kathy Aldern and Maryanne Bache at Seascape Drive, and by Peter and Millie Thomas at Holiday Park. A juvenile Bald Eagle was spotted by Justyn Stahl near the San Luis Rey Mission, and by Jeff Wells near North River Road. The eagle had blue patagial tags indicating it was from the northern Channel Islands, where Bald Eagles have been reintroduced. Carol and Fred Roberts found a Purple Finch at Alta Vista Park. A Summer Tanager was seen by Rick Grove and team at Green Oaks Ranch in Vista, and a Western Tanager was spotted at Buddy Todd Park by Tito Gonzales. Paul Lehman (roving) located a Palm Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Western Tanager, Summer Tanager, and Bullock’s Oriole.
Western Tanager, Buddy Todd Park. Photo by Tito Gonzales
Many other species that are rarely found in the Oceanside circle were detected as single birds or as very few individuals, including Prairie Falcon and Cactus Wren (Robert Patton, Camp Pendleton); Reddish Egret (Tim Burr, Camp Pen west); Hooded Merganser (Stevan Brad, Batiquitos/Aviara), Ridgway’s Rail (Chris Smith, Batiquitos), Pomarine Jaeger (Dave Povey, Pelagic), Wilson’s Snipe (Stan Walens, La Costa; Paul Chad, Fire Mt; and Paul Lehman, roving), and Canyon Wren (Carol Manning, Gopher Canyon South).
Hooded Mergansers, Aviara Golf Course. Photo by Stevan Brad.
Very few species were detected at record high numbers. White-breasted Nuthatch was a record high at 20 individuals, and Scaly-breasted Munia (113) was near the high of 114 set a few years ago. Peregrine Falcon (6) matched its previous high count. Bald Eagle was present for only the 3rd time on this count.
Several species were at or near record lows, including Loggerhead Shrike which had just 4 detections, all at Camp Pendleton. Brewer’s Blackbird (31) was near the record low of 30 individuals set in 1948.
Returning from last year, two of our 34 survey teams featured young birders. Ryan Andrews led a young birder team at Agua Hedionda, and they located rarities including Brant and Cackling Goose. Jeff Wells led a team at Oceanside Golf Course/Libby Lake that included his young son, and they found a juvenile Bald Eagle and a Pacific Slope Flycatcher. Thanks to these two teams who are helping to build the future of birding in our area!
Thanks very much to all of the teams who worked many hours to collect these data. Christmas bird counts generate an important and long-running data set. These data help to track bird species trends for the United States and other countries. Thank you for your very important contributions to this effort.