Christmas Bird Count – 2017 Preliminary Results

Hi Society!

2017 Christmas Bird Count Preliminary Results


We have the preliminary results for the 2017 Anchorage Christmas Bird Count which was held on Saturday, December 16, 2017.  It’s long, but we’ll give it a try.

What a Christmas Bird Count! The preliminary results are in, but please be advised that these results will change as the final data is tabulated, and our view of the results is based on very early and largely un-analyzed data. But what a day!

This year, counters found FIFTY-FIVE SPECIES, which exceeds the previous all time high of 52 species set in 1984 by THREE SPECIES. Holy Smokes!

The total number of birds seen was 10,627 which is above the mean number of 8,155, but is far below the record number of 30,606. The record number is of course dependent on highly inruptive species such as Bohemian Waxwings and Common Redpolls which have reached as many as 22,000 and 8,000 birds respectively in certain years.

2017 ANC CBC - # of Species


The great news is that ELEVEN species were at their all-time High: Northern Shoveler (2), Harlequin Duck (2), Bufflehead (2), Rock Pigeon (1209), Hermit Thrush (1), Orange-crowned Warbler (1), Red-breasted Nuthatch (512), American Dipper (48), Robins (406), Song Sparrow (1), and Sharp-tailed Grouse (1).

Birds at an almost all-time high were Gray Jays, Steller’s Jays, Rock Ptarmigan, and unfortunately European Starlings.

Species with a below average showing included Common Goldeneyes, Dark-eyed Juncos, Pine Grosbeaks, and Common Redpolls. Species looking way below average were Bohemian Waxwings, White-winged Crossbills, and Pine Siskins.

Our 55 species seen compares to a mean number of 33, and as usual, there were a number of species represented by only ONE single sighting of one individual. This is fairly usual, but the number was high this year with 17 of 51 species being represented by only one individual. Those single sightings were: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Gyrfalcon, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Wilson’s Snipe, Great Horned Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Hermit Thrush, Varied Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Snow Bunting, Pacific Wren, Short-eared Owl, and Hoary Redpoll.

New birds to the count were the Hermit Thrush, Northern Shoveler, and the Sharp-tailed Grouse. The Sharp-tailed Grouse was the highlight of the day since it was also the FIRST RECORD of that species ever seen in Anchorage.

Here’s how that happened:

Visiting birder Michael Woodruff and his wife were walking the Coastal Trail between Elderberry Park and Westchester Lagoon. The Grouse walked across the trail in front of them. They thought it was unusual, but because they are not from Anchorage, they did not realize what a stunning bird they had stumbled upon.

They called Area 2 Leader Andrew Fisher who called W. Keys. Between them, they realized that there was a very good reason that they were shouting to each other on the phone. Word went back to Michael who re-found the bird, and word went out to birders across town. The stampede to the spot was on.

From her deck, the lady whose yard it had chosen said, “It’s been here for about 3 weeks. I’ve been feeding it and thought it was some kind of ptarmigan.

It was a fabulous day, and the Tally Party and Chili Feed was a stellar event as well. Ginormous thanks go to everyone who participated in the Count, to everyone who brought dishes to the Potluck, to the Area Leaders for coordinating their teams, to Keith Confer who worked tirelessly to make the Tally Spreadsheet clear and concise, and to Louann Feldmann who once again organized the entire city-wide Christmas Bird Count effort. She is nothing less than a Citizen Science Goddess!

And finally, we can’t heap enough praise on visiting birder Michael Woodruff and his wife who not only found the Sharp-tailed Grouse, but also turned up the single Song Sparrow and the single Snow Bunting in the same immediate area!

2017 ANC CBC - # of Individuals


Data from the Anchorage Count follows below, and is sorted according to the number of each species seen.  The Tally Party and Chili Feed was a fabulous get-together, and we’d like to thank the First Congregational Church, Lynn Barber, and Louann Feldmann for making the evening possible.

Also worthy of our highest praise are Area Leaders Thede Tobish, Andrew Fisher, Daria Carle, Tom Evans, Dick Prentki, and Pat Pourchot;  Chief Coordinator Louann Feldmann;  and all of the many, many counters and feeder watchers who provided the data for this year’s count.

The total species seen are listed here from most prevalent to least prevalent. This year’s total exceeds the all-time record of 52 set in 1984 by THREE SPECIES!


Black-capped Chickadee 1874
Mallard 1320
Rock Pigeon 1209
Bohemian Waxwing 1166
Common Redpoll 799
Black-billed Magpie 708
Common Raven 652
European Starling 601
Red-breasted Nuthatch 512
Pine Grosbeak 482
American Robin 406
Boreal Chickadee 337
Steller’s Jay 109
Downy Woodpecker 55
Redpoll Species 53
American Dipper 48
Golden-crowned Kinglet 38
White-winged Crossbill 28
Gray Jay 25
Hairy Woodpecker 23
Gray-crowned Rosy Finch 20
Dark-eyed Junco 19
Bald Eagle 16
Willow Ptarmigan 16
Pine Siskin 14
Common Goldeneye 13
Common Merganser 13
Brown Creeper 8
Northern Shrike 7
Northern Goshawk 6
Rock Ptarmigan 5
Townsend’s Solitaire 3
Northern Shoveler 2
Harlequin Duck 2
Bufflehead 2
Spruce Grouse 2
Am. Three-toed Woodpecker 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2
Green-winged Teal 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Merlin 1
Gyrfalcon 1
Sharp-tailed Grouse 1
Wilson’s Snipe 1
Short-eared Owl 1
Great Horned Owl 1
Northern Saw-whet Owl 1
Belted Kingfisher 1
Pacific Wren 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Varied Thrush 1
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 1
Snow Bunting 1
Hoary Redpoll 1
Total # of Species 55
Total # of Individuals Birds 10627


As seen during the Tally Party, graphs have been made of each species on a per year basis since the count began.  These graphs are available for viewing via the following link:

Graphs of Species by Year (click on this link)

Results will be made final once all sightings have been fully vetted, so please consider these results as preliminary for the time being.

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