Buff-bellied hummingbird highlights bird count

Buff-bellied hummingbird

Buff-bellied hummingbird

John Spohrer
Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 12:48 PM.


The number of birds counted was down from 2011 but three new species were added to the county list during this year’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

On Dec. 28, 30 volunteers traveled 514 miles by car and boat to count a total of 8,883 birds of 136 species during the 2012 count.

A year earlier, more than 24,000 birds were observed during the CBC and more than 10,000 were counted in 2010. Experienced birders said windy weather may have been a factor in the reduced number of birds observed this year.

Seen for the first time this year was a whimbrel spotted in the “Miles” region west of Apalachicola. This large wading bird breeds in the Arctic and migrates to South and Central America, Africa, south Asia, Australia and the southern United States for the winter. It uses its long, down-curved bill to probe deep in the sand of beaches for shellfish and other small animals, but also feeds on berries and insects.

Master birder John Murphy said he was surprised this species has not been observed in Franklin County in previous bird CBCs. Murphy organized the count this year stepping into the considerable shoes of Alan Knothe.

Another first-time species for the count was a barn owl spotted near the Apalachicola Regional Airport. Considered the most widespread owl species, it had never been spotted during a Christmas count in Franklin County.

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