Sunday, January 3, 2016

Knox CBC kicks off new year

Sunrise: 2 January 2016. Cold: 27º
Well chilled at dawn: 
Rachael Eliot, Dr. Cheryl Greenacre, Eddy Whitson, Patty Ford 

What's the best way to break out of the sugar laden holidays and step briskly into the New Year? The key word here is "briskly."

How about getting up before sunrise on a cold January morning (27°) and count birds. Its all a part of the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC), the oldest citizen science project in the world. 

The first CBC in the country was held in 1900; the first in Tennessee came two years later in Knoxville. According to the late J. B. Owen, on December 1, 1902, the state's first bird count was made by Magnolia Woodward who tallied birds around her home near Park Avenue (later changed to Magnolia Avenue).

Flash forward 113 years: The CBC count circles are 15 miles in diameter. There are four circles in this general area: Norris, Cades Cove, Great Smokies and the one here in this more urban location. Knoxville's circle is centered on Ebenezer Road on the west side of the city. (See map below.) 

The 2015 Knoxville CBC was held a couple days past: Saturday, January 2, 2016.  

And Jimmy Tucker
My group always counts the northern portion of Area #12 off Alcoa Highway, the Lakemore Hills peninsula out to the Tennessee River at Peter Blow Bend and north to Looney Island and Cherokee Farm. (See map below.) Our chilled cadre was only one of dozens of similar die-hard, frozen fingered birders who counted in other areas in Knox County. (Again, see map below.) And did I mention it was cold. We were bundled, but heated by the thrill of the hunt. After six hours we had tallied 54 species, a total 1454 birds. 

And fancy chapeaux!
Thanks to my group: Patty, Eddy, Dr. Cheryl, Jimmy and Rachael! Now, it's time to thaw out. 

Here's our stats: Canada Goose 230, Mallard 4, Great Blue Heron 8, Black Vulture 1, Turkey Vulture 1, Bald Eagle 1, Sharp-shinned Hawk 2, Red-shouldered Hawk 1, Red-tailed Hawk 2, Killdeer 1, Ring-billed Gull 38, Rock Pigeon 4, Mourning Dove 20, Belted Kingfisher 3, Red-headed Woodpecker 2, Red-bellied Woodpecker 19, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 6, Downy Woodpecker 19, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker 3, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Eastern Phoebe 3, Blue Jay 54, American Crow 36, Carolina Chickadee 84, Tufted Titmouse 52, Red-breasted Nuthatch 2, White-breasted Nuthatch 4, Brown-headed Nuthatch 2, Carolina Wren 17, Golden-crowned Kinglet 5, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 9, Eastern Bluebird 17, Hermit Thrush 3, American Robin 270, Northern Mockingbird 39, Brown Thrasher 3, European Starling 124, Cedar Waxwing 64, Yellow-rumped Warbler 21, Palm Warbler 1, Eastern Towhee 31, Field Sparrow 4, Savannah Sparrow 5, Song Sparrow 71, Swamp Sparrow 1, White-throated Sparrow 29, Dark-eyed Junco 3, Northern Cardinal 71, Eastern Meadowlark 2, Common Grackle 6, House Finch 12, Pine Siskin 1, American Goldfinch 41

Sunrise: Maxey Boat Dock
 And two of the 1454 birds. Photos by Jimmy Tucker.

Eastern Bluebird by Jimmy Tucker
Eastern Meadowlark by Jimmy Tucker

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