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2023 Lake Henshaw CBC results

12:58 pm

Final results of the 2023 Lake Henshaw CBC (CALH).

A big thank you to San Diego Field Ornithologists for sponsoring the count and providing funds to cover the various expenses to hold the Count, and Checklist gathering, including refreshments. Thank you to the Santa Ysabel Nature Center staff for allowing us to gather at their facilities. Finally a huge thank you to the Volcan Mountain Foundation, the Vista Irrigation District, the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians, and the County of San Diego for providing access to parts their private lands.

Monday 18 December 2023, Count Day:

39 Birder volunteers under partly sunny skies, light winds, pleasant temperatures and dry conditions found a total of 127 species (average), as 7276 individuals (low), with Western Grebe leading flock at 900 individuals. 10 species (Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, Sora, Greater Yellowlegs, Spotted Owl, Red-naped Sapsucker, White-headed woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue-gray & Black-tailed Gnatcatchers), were represented by a single individual at the other end of the numerical spectrum.

Rare species documented on Count Day were Yellow-headed Blackbird (2 birds in the Mesa Grande area) YHBL have been recorded in the CALH Circle only once before and not since 1981!! Zone-tailed Hawk also made a rare appearance (2 photographed near the western edge of Lake Henshaw), ZTHA have now appeared 4 times, last in 2009. Finally, 2 Brewer’s Sparrows were seen, one in the Swan Lake area at the northern top of the Circle and one in the Ranchita area, the northeastern edge of the Circle. BRSP was recorded previously only once! (1 bird, 1998).

3 additional species, Prairie Falcon, Hutton’s Vireo, and Scott’s Oriole, were recorded in the “Count Week” period but missed on Count Day, bringing the 2023 Species count to 130.

Usually expected species missed this year include Barn Owl, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Horned Lark, and Golden-crowned sparrow. Overall, 2023 had historically very low counts of Ducks/Waterfowl, Sparrows, Thrushes  and continued a 10 year downward trend in Individual Numbers of birds counted species wide. Lewis’s Woodpeckers (27 = a 3 year upward trend) and Vesper Sparrows (23) were seen in much higher than average numbers although certainly not abundant or widespread. Notably, the single White-headed woodpecker observed was NOT on Volcan Mountain but in a previously inaccessible area in Mesa Grande. Volcan Mountain did have Red-naped and Williamson’s sapsuckers, Pygmy and Red-breasted nuthatches, which are infrequent in that locale. To further illustrate the trend of low individual bird numbers in the Circle, 39 species (~30% of 130 Count Week species total) were represented by 3 or less individuals, including the 10 “one-off” listed above.

Finally, high numbers (>100) of juvenile Western and Clark’s grebes, many not yet fledged, some still being fed by attending adults, as well as display dancing adult pairs at Lake Henshaw was exceptional for the Count, but not unexpected. (See species accounts in San Diego County Bird Atlas, Unitt SDNHM 2004).

2023 CALH Species List:

Canada Goose 20

Cinnamon Teal 3

Northern Shoveler 55

American Wigeon 7

Mallard 54

Green-winged Teal 38

Ring-necked duck 6

Lesser Scaup 1

Hooded Merganser 1

Ruddy duck 22

Mountain Quail 8

California Quail 86

Wild Turkey 145

Eared Grebe 4

Western Grebe 900

Clark’s Grebe 44

Rock Pigeon 28

Band-tailed Pigeon 262

Eurasian Collared-dove 21

White-winged Dove 41

Mourning Dove 281

Common Ground Dove 2

Greater Roadrunner 2

Anna’s Hummingbird 7

Virginia Rail 2

Sora 1

American Coot 120

Killdeer 2

Wilson’s Snipe 3

Spotted Sandpiper 3

Greater Yellowlegs 1

Bonaparte’s Gull 16

Ring-billed Gull 6

California Gull 58

Double-crested Cormorant 81

American White Pelican 117

Great Blue Heron 6

Great Egret 4

Snowy Egret 2

Turkey Vulture 18

Golden Eagle 2

Northern Harrier 4

Sharp-shinned Hawk 2

Cooper’s Hawk 3

Bald Eagle 3

Red-shouldered Hawk 11

Zone-tailed Hawk 2

Red-tailed Hawk 71

Ferruginous Hawk 10

Western Screech Owl 2

Great-horned Owl 19

Spotted Owl 1

Northern Saw-whet Owl 3

Belted Kingfisher 4

Red-naped Sapsucker 1

Lewis’s Woodpecker 27

Acorn Woodpecker 424

Nuttall’s Woodpecker 23

Hairy Woodpecker 11

White-headed Woodpecker 1

Northern Flicker 60

Williamson’s Sapsucker 2

American Kestrel 16

Merlin 2

Prairie Falcon 1

Black Phoebe 20

Say’s Phoebe 18

Cassin’s Kingbird 3

Hutton’s Vireo 1

Loggerhead Shrike 7

Steller’s Jay 67

California Scrub-Jay 254

American Crow 258

Common Raven 111

Mountain Chickadee 72

Oak Titmouse 57

Tree Swallow 4

Bushtit 54

Wrentit 30

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 70

Golden-crowned Kinglet 2

Red-breasted Nuthatch 1

White-breasted Nuthatch 24

Pygmy Nuthatch 4

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 1

Rock Wren 7

House Wren 11

Marsh Wren 5

Bewick’s Wren 15

European Starling 341

California Thrasher 19

Northern Mockingbird 3

Western Bluebird 65

Mountain Bluebird 33

Hermit Thrush 2

American Robin 9

Cedar Waxwing 28

Phainopepla 21

House Sparrow 39

American Pipit 14

House Finch 151

Purple Finch 6

Pine Siskin 22

Lesser Goldfinch 112

Lawrence’s Goldfinch 70

Chipping Sparrow 115

Brewer’s Sparrow 2

Lark Sparrow 96

Fox Sparrow 4

Dark-eyed Junco 152

White-crowned Sparrow 309

“Sage” Sparrow 2

Vesper Sparrow 23

Savannah Sparrow 122

Song Sparrow 24

Lincoln’s Sparrow 10

California Towhee 14

Spotted Towhee 47

Yellow-headed Blackbird 2

Western Meadowlark 178

Scott’s Oriole 1

Red-winged Blackbird 271

Tricolored Blackbird 12

Brown-headed Cowbird 3

Brewer’s Blackbird 539

Orange-crowned Warbler 4

Common Yellowthroat 7

Yellow-rumped Warbler 127

Townsend’s Warbler 3


Cheers to All!!!

Chris Staurovsky

Coordinator & Compiler CALH