December 29, 2012
129 species tallied (count day + count week)
Count day: 123 species
Count week: additional 6 species
Individual birds: 47,998 birds
Seattle CBC Compiler: Matt Bartels
Overall, the 2012 count came in with almost exactly the average # of species recorded as for the past 10 years (We tallied 123 on count day vs. 122.5 as a 10-year average). The total number of birds tallied was almost identical to last year (only 275 fewer this year, out of 48000) -- our second lowest total in the past 15 years (only 2010 tallied fewer birds). This continues a recent trend of lower totals. In addition to the 123 species seen on count day, 6 additional species were noted on Count Week but not during count-day: Snow Goose, Tundra Swan, Cinnamon Teal, Short-eared Owl , Common Raven & Evening Grosbeak.
Highlight birds of the day: The star bird of the day may well have been Red Crossbill. The last time Red Crossbills were recorded in triple digits was in 1926. This year recorded 712, with reports coming from 12 of the 14 sectors! We recorded our first ever Brown Pelican on this year’s count. The 2 Snowy Owls that have made Ballard their home this winter were recorded on count day. In addition, an American Dipper was seen in the Bellevue portion of the circle, the first time we’ve recorded Dipper since 2000. One Red-naped Sapsucker, seen in the Arboretum, was an unexpected addition, as was a Long-tailed Duck in West Seattle.
Notable misses: Ruddy Duck (continuing a long-running decline), Northern Harrier, Mourning Dove, Western Screech-Owl, Common Raven (count week only), Savannah Sparrow, Slate-colored Dark-eyed Junco, and Evening Grosbeak (count week only).
Record high counts: For the modern period (1972-present), high counts were recorded for 12 species including: Greater White-fronted Goose ; Ring-necked Duck ; Surf Scoter ; Brown Pelican ; Pigeon Guillemot ; Barn Owl [3 – tie w/ 2009]; Northern Saw-whet Owl [3 – tie w/ 1990 & 2007]; Hairy Woodpecker [7 – tie w/ 2010]; Red-breasted Nuthatch ; American Dipper [1 – tied w/ many years]; Yellow-rumped Warbler ; Red Crossbill .
Ducks & Geese – Numbers were a little low this year, but mostly close to recent averages, with Ring-necked Ducks, Surf Scoters & Greater White-fronted Geese being the exceptions on the high end. White-winged Scoters  & Black Scoters , Northern Pintail , and Ruddy Duck  continue to decline for the count.
Both California Quail & Ring-necked Pheasant eluded the CBC counters this year. Quail remain in the count area in small pockets, but Pheasant seem to be completely gone.
Loons & Grebes –Present in better than average numbers across the board, including Western Grebe , a species that has seen numbers improve over the past 5 years.
Raptors: Overall numbers of raptors reported was a bit lower than average this year, with only Peregrine Falcon  being tallied above the ten-year average. Surprisingly low numbers for Sharp-shinned Hawks  and Merlin  were hopefully just anomalies of the day.
Shorebirds, Gulls & Alcids: Only 30 Killdeer were reported this year, the second lowest total for Killdeer over the past 15 years. Likewise, the Black Turnstone  & Surfbird  flocks must have been hiding, with numbers lowest in over 10 years. Bonaparte’s Gulls  & Mew Gulls  were present in above average numbers, while the totals for larger gulls were mostly a bit below average. Alcids continue a long CBC trend of showing up in above average numbers across the board.
Passerines: Overall the results for most passerines were about average, with Red-breasted Nuthatch , Brown Creeper , Pacific Wren , and Golden-crowned Kinglets , and Varied Thrush  all being above average. Yellow-rumped Warblers  were up, while Townsend’s Warblers  were well below average. Pine Siskins  joined Red Crossbills  as the stand-out finch species, while the lack of Evening Grosbeaks except on Count Week continued a long trend of decline.
Thanks to everyone who participated!