Escondido Christmas Bird Count Results

Eighty-six people participated in the Escondido Christmas bird count held on January 5. Twenty-five teams recorded 25,600 individual birds and 152 species (seven below our all-time high of 159). Twenty-two species were only recorded by a single team. All teams and team members are listed at the end of this report. Fortunately, we managed to just beat an incoming
storm, with rain moving in as we began the compilation meeting at Kit Carson Park.

A new bird for the count circle.

Jay Desgrosellier and Courtny Achenbach observed a Sagebrush Sparrow in northeast Ramona. This bird is a split from the former “Sage Sparrow,” and does not typically occur west of the mountains in San Diego County.

Other rarities

Additional birds that we observed that have occurred on fewer than a dozen counts (out of a total of thirty-four counts) are listed below. The number of counts on which these birds have been recorded includes the lastest CBC.

Harris’s Hawk. One near the Ramona Airport is likely the same individual that created such a stir on last year’s count. (Recorded on 2 counts)

White-winged Dove. Three teams recorded a total of twenty-five individual doves north of downtown Ramona, near the Ramona Airport, and at the east end of the San Pasqual Valley (Bandy Canyon Road area). It appears that this bird, usually associated with the desert, is now colonizing areas west of the mountains. (Recorded on 3 counts)

Clark’s Grebe. Six were observed on Lake Wohlford and an additional one on Dixon Lake. This waterbird has been recorded fairly frequently in recent years in the count circle (Recorded on 9 counts)

Vermilion Flycatcher. One was noted near Mule Hill in southeast Escondido and a second was noted in the Santa Maria Valley (Rangeland Road area) in Ramona. (Recorded on 11 counts)

Scaly-breasted Munia. This introduced species continues its slow spread with twenty-one individuals noted by four teams (Mule Hill area in Escondido, Cloverdale Road (San Pasqual Valley), central San Pasqual Valley, and Old Coach Road area in Poway. (Recorded on 11 counts)

Some General Observations

Overall, bird numbers were near mormal in the western half of the count circle, below normal in the eastern half. Some fruit-eating birds, such as American Robin, Hermit Thrush, and Cedar Waxwing, occurred in above-average numbers. Overwintering neotropical migrants were scarce and we saw little movement of birds from the higher mountains. We missed two raptors that we typically record, Northern Harrier and a specialty of the count circle, the Zone-tailed Hawk.

High numbers

Birds with all-time high numbers on the 2019 CBC included Hooded Merganser (31 individuals), Western Grebe (150), Allen’s/Rufous Hummingbird (32, most likely all Allen’s), White-winged Dove, and Scaly-breasted Munia (last two noted above).

Not so high numbers

As mentioned on previous count summaries, our coastal sage scrub and chaparral birds are still slowly recovering from the devastating fires of 2003 and, especially, 2007, the latter of which wiped out the majority of the shrublands within the count circle. Birds such as California Quail, California Gnatcatcher, Bewick’s and Cactus wrens, California Thrasher, and California and Spotted towhees are at approximately 30-40% of their pre-fire high-count numbers. The recent years-long drought hasn’t helped to restore their habitat or their numbers.

Going, going, gone?

Meanwhile, we are seeing a number of birds that are showing big decreases in recent years. Some examples include Common Merganser (8 in 2019, high count: 160 in 2002), Cattle Egret (13 in 2019, high count: 875 in 1997), White-tailed Kite (1 in 2019, high count: 43 in 1999), and Loggerhead Shrike (1 in 2019, high count: 37 in 1988). How much longer will these species
hang on?

Thanks for your participation

Thanks go to all who participated including the four teams who braved the early morning chill to go owling (Guejito Road, Highland Valley Road, Mule Hill, and Ramona). Thanks to Debbie Marlow who has been such a great help in securing access to the Safari Park, and thanks to the friendly staff at the Escondido City Parks Department.

I would like to encourage all teams to report your observations on eBird. Let me know if you need a copy of your team’s list.

Hope to see you on the next CBC, Ken Weaver, count compiler
January 2019 CBC teams (participants are listed in alphabetical order).

Bandy Canyon Road, San Pasqual Valley (Clark Mahrdt, Jan Nordenberg)
Black Canyon Road, Cleveland National Forest (Charles Vantassel, Kirsten Winter)
Cloverdale Road, San Pasqual Valley (Paul Chad, Steve Lister, Tom Simpson
Ted Thurston)
Dixon Lake, Escondido, team 1 (Jerry Bischoff, Gail DeLalla, Philip Unitt)
Dixon Lake, Escondido, team 2 (Tom Myers, Nick Vinciguerra)
Guejito Road, Valley Center (Susan Martin)
Guejito Ranch, Valley Center (Heidi Marc-Aurele, Linda Rasmussen)
Highland Valley Road (Bruce Rideout)
Kit Carson Park, Escondido (Mike Gonzales, Tawni Gotbaum, Tracy Henchbarger, Ken Weaver)
Lake Wohlford, Valley Center (Connie Lee, Hank Ingersoll, Devin Loefke,
Aedyn Loefke, Scott Loefke, Geoff Rogers,)
Mule Hill, Escondido (Christopher Baker, Dave Batzler, Ed Hall, Jim Zimmer)
North Pamo Valley (Christopher Adler, Supeena Adler)
Oak Hill Cemetery, Escondido (Lori Andrews, Ryan Andrews, Jani McGee,
Jerry McGee)
Old Coach Road, Poway (Hal Benham, Rustom Jamadar, Paul Jeffs, Charlotte
Paradise Mountain Road, Valley Center (Toby Araujo, Rachel Ferry, Paige Krul, Tyler Krul, Jack Tabor)
Ramona, north and south of downtown (Courtny Achenbach, Jay Desgrosellier)
Ramona Airport (Meredith Dow, Mike Dow, Rick Grove, Sue Hanson, Stephen Perry)
Raptor Ridge, San Pasqual Valley (Gerry Baade, Linda Baade, Millie Basden,
Peter Thomas)
San Diego Zoo Safari Park (divided into three teams) (Joni Ciarletta, Matt Farley,
Debbie Marlow, Tom Meixner, Brennan Mulrooney, Jane Mygatt, Tiana Skrivseth, Stan Walens, Candace Zylman)
San Pasqual Valley, central valley (Jim Beckman, Michael Beeve, Sonja Beeve, Jack Friery, Marty Hales, Richard Paul, Tom Trowbridge)
Santa Maria Valley, Ramona (Beth Cobb, Patience Falatek, Richard Fowler,
Laurie Von Hendy, Phoenix Von Hendy)
South Pamo Valley (Brian Edwards, Jan Edwards, Patti Ellis, Steve Ellis, John
Sanderson, Sally Sanderson)
Woods Valley Road, Valley Center (Terry Hurst, Lisa Ruby)

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