Front Row L-R Patrick Savage '95, Cato Anderson '94, Andrew Spooner '93, Dan Wells '91. Back Row L-R Evan Ricker '93, Mike Fahey (interloper), Dave Monaghan '93, Ben Chaset '93.

Birders of a feather count Concord’s bird together

By Peter Alden -
January 18, 2023

An army of 80 local birders in field parties and at backyard feeders spotted 77 different species and 11,413 individual birds in a recent count.

It was a continuation of counts conducted every year here since 1960. We have 63 years of citizen science data in Concord showing declines in some while others absent in 1960 have become common residents. A few such as Ruffed Grouse and Ring-necked Pheasants have vanished locally. Many formerly southern species have expanded northwards due not to climate change but rather to the huge increase in bird feeding and invasive and horticultural fruiting plants.

We keep town-centric records here although we are but one of 14 towns in a 15-mile diameter circle stretching from Carlisle to north Framingham. Ours is but one of more than 1,000 such circles in the Americas where birders census on any chosen date between Dec. 15 and Jan. 5 annually. These are sponsored by the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

There were 23 homes where adults and children kept track of birds in their yards. Of our overwintering birds that are subsidized by feeders the following 15 were the commonest (listed with numbers noted): 740 Black-capped Chickadee, 725 Dark-eyed Junco, 599 House Sparrow, 587 Mourning Dove, 544 American Goldfinch, 454 Blue Jay, 356 Tufted Titmouse, 311 House Finch, 278 White-breasted Nuthatch, 230 Song Sparrow, 227 Cardinal, 196 Downy Woodpecker,  113 White-throated Sparrow, 103 Carolina Wren and 92 Red-bellied Woodpecker. Chuck and Joanne Gibson (Now at Newbury Court) handled all these reports.

The 11 field parties usually brave rather cold, snowy and/or windy conditions with frozen ponds and rivers. This year’s chosen date was New Year’s Day and we endured warm calm weather under sunny skies and open waters. Each team spent the day checking the woods, fields, farms, thickets and flooded watersides. Key town sector leaders and a few of their unusual birds are noted here. They put in 105 hours in the field with some night-time work owling. Will Martens acted as town compiler with a little help from Peter Alden.

Bedford Levels/Nine Acre Corner (Simon Perkins & Erik Nielsen): 4 Northern Harrier, Bald Eagle, Lapland Longspur, 180 Snow Bunting, 3 Fox Sparrow.

Concord Center/Town Forest (Kathy & Jay Dia, Cris Van Dyke, Delia Kaye): Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, 2 Pileated Woodpecker, 3 Flicker, Winter Wren.

Conantum/Sudbury River (Susan Clark (feeders), David Witherbee): 4 Hooded Merganser, 6 Common Mergansers 2 Great Horned Owl, 4 Brown Creeper.

Elm Street/Nashawtuc Hill (Kim Peters, Michael Reed): 452 Mallard, 2 Pintail, Gray Catbird, 3 Common Grackle.

Great Meadows: (Julia Yoshida, Scott Edwards, Bryan Windmiller): Double-crested Cormorant, 6 Gadwall, 2 Bufflehead, Virginia Rail, Northern Harrier, Marsh Wren, Purple Finch, 21 Swamp Sparrow.

Lowell Road/Liberty Street/Estabrook (Willy Hucheson): Eastern Screech-Owl, 5 Great Horned Owl, 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, 21 Red-breasted Nuthatch, 2 Marsh Wren, 2 Purple Finch, Common Redpoll.

Monument Street/Brewster’s Woods (Cato Anderson, Dan Wells): Pintail, 7 Hooded Merganser, 7 Common Merganser, Northern Harrier, 2 Barred Owl.

South Concord/White Pond (Will Martens (Town compiler), David & Tim Swain, Lang Stevenson): 2 Hooded Merganser, 2 Red-shouldered Hawk, 4 Pileated Woodpecker, Raven, Winter Wren, 44 Eastern Bluebird, 8 Savannah Sparrow.

Strawberry Hill & Barrett’s Mill Road (Jared Keyes, Ray Andrews): Flicker, 16 Eastern Bluebirds, 3 Red Crossbill, 2 Fox Sparrow.

Walden Woods & Pond (Henry Moss, Henry Keutman): 4 Common Merganser, 4 Ruddy Duck, Great Blue Heron, 2 Belted Kingfisher.

West Concord/Warner’s Pond (Peter Alden, Fred Mulligan, Melanie Sleder, Vanessa Vallee): Pintail, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Merlin.

Enjoy Concord’s fascinating birdlife on your winter excursions.