Chelan Bird Count indicates low number of birds present

A Barrow’s goldeneye, six of which were between the old bridge and Chelan Dam.

CHELAN – What has happened to our normal volume of wintering birds here in the Chelan-Manson area?  Our annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the 30th in a series that began in 1989, tallied up 70 bird species and 6882 total individual birds.  The date was December 28.

At least the 70 species was a rebound from last year’s record low of 62 species, but that is still below our 30-year average of 77 species.  But—we would have to go back to 1996 to find a total individual bird count that was lower than this year’s 6882 birds; and our 30-year average is 10,032 total birds.  Particularly notable was the low count of: waterfowl, gulls, jays, chickadees, nuthatches, kinglets, and Bohemian waxwings.

A number of factors have contributed to the low count, one of which was the spotty snow cover that allowed the birds to scatter throughout the Count Circle and beyond.  Or, our relatively mild fall and early winter may have delayed the southward migration from Canada of our familiar winter birds; or, it simply delayed some birds from descending from higher elevations.

Each year always has a few highlights, and the Stayman Flats area stood out this year where a Bewick’s wren could be added to our count list, and one of our rare snow geese was located.  May I report also a record high count in our Circle of 232 Eurasian collared-doves, that were not even on our count list until 2010?  Their count has been rising steadily since the first find of 11 doves in 2010.

It was also good news that an Anna’s hummingbird was spotted on the south shore of Lake Chelan during Count Week, which comprises the three days before and three days after Count Day.

There are over 2,300 Christmas Bird Counts in North America each year, sponsored by the National Audubon Society.  Our Chelan CBC area is a 15-mile diameter circle whose center is just north of the new roundabout on the Chelan-Manson Highway.  It is divided into seven sections, and normally there are about two participants per section.  With only eleven participants this year, a couple of areas were covered by just one participant each.  We also had two backyard counters who called in their results.

Anyone desiring full count results can call or email me.  Also, North American count results reaching back to 1900 are available on Audubon’s website,

Contact Steve Easley at (509)682-2318 ( if you have questions or comments, or to learn how to sign up to volunteer for our next Chelan CBC in late December 2019.

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