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2017 La Crosse Area Christmas Bird Counts

Saturday, December 16, 2017


From Dan Jackson, 12/18/17:

At this point, I have received and compiled 20 of 28 section reports and 23 of 37 feeder reports. These are the preliminary results based on those.

Many reported lower numbers of species and birds this year. However, the weather was gorgeous and I know that I really enjoyed winter birding without frozen fingers and toes. At this point, we have close to 10,000 birds of 64 species. This year, the past week’s weather moved out most of the lingering waterfowl so duck and goose numbers are low. With that in mind, 64 species is actually pretty good. Perhaps we can add to that when we get the rest of the reports.

Thanks to everyone who participated this year!! I really appreciate your time and effort.

My work schedule is really nutty right now. If you haven’t given me your reports or if I have asked for clarifications or new copies of files, please send that data as soon as you can. I will have very little time to look at this after this week and would love to have it complete in the next couple of days so that is not an issue.

Happy Holidays and good birding!!!


From Dan Jackson, 12/20/17:

I am still waiting for 2 section reports and 6 feeder reports. However, with almost 90% of the data entered, I thought that it would be worth sharing an update.

At this point, the totals are 11,655 birds of 67 species. For a year without much of open water and therefore low numbers of waterfowl, that is actually very good. In addition to the unusual birds mentioned with the preliminary count, I noticed some other interesting things.

One of the most interesting aspects of this year’s count is the very low number of American Robins that were seen. At this point, only 2 birds were found – 1 each by 2 different observers. The numbers of Robins seen varies widely each year and typically follows a cycle with alternating high and low years. However, even in low years, we usually find more than 2!

Another bird with extremely low numbers compared to previous years are Rough-legged Hawks. This year, only three birds were found. In my section, which is the Goose Island area, I only had 1 Red-tailed Hawk and no other buteos, accipters, or falcons (plenty of Bald Eagles though). That is really unusual for that section. Some years I see 20 or more hawks in that area.

Dan Jackson, Count Compiler
La Crosse / La Crescent Christmas Bird Count

From Lennie Lichter, 12/21/17:

As Dan Mentioned above, the American Robin count has been consistently "regular" for almost 30 years now. Beginning in 1988, the count has almost always been higher on even numbered years that it was on the odd numbered adjacent years. The only time it was slightly out of that sequence was in 2015 when there were a few more than there had been in 2014.

For my part of the count this year in Section C along Mormon Coulee and the Pammel Creek "wilds" SW of La Crosse, I saw no Robins but I did have an interesting dark buteo. The entire upperside of the body, including the wings and head was an overall dark charcoal to black in color, though the upperside of the tail was just slightly lighter, shading gradually to dark again at the end of the tail. The underside of the bird was also dark charcoal, including the head and face, except for the primary wing feathers, which were silvery gray and lightly barred, and the underside of the tail, which was very similar to that of an immature Red-tailed Hawk, silvery gray in color with some light barring. I believe that this bird was an immature dark morph of a Harlan's Hawk, formerly a separate species but now considered a western subspecies of the Red-tailed Hawk. This bird was seen soaring in circles above Helke Road, gradually heading over the ridge toward the west, and might possibly still be in the area.

From Dan Jackson, 12/22/17:

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this year’s La Crosse / La Crescent Christmas Bird Count!! It is really great to have a large group of volunteers who are willing to give up time on a Saturday in the Christmas season to take part in this event each year!

Despite the perception by many of us that birding was relatively slow on Saturday, we had a great count. Our totals now stand at 12,349 birds of 68 species. Considering the low number and diversity of waterfowl, these are very good numbers – especially the species count!

One important reason for these results is the large number of people who take part in this event. This year, we had 52 section counters and 37 feeder counters (there are a two who counted both a section and at their own feeder, so we had 85 total participants). As a group, this represents over 350 hours of counting and compiling time!! Thank You for this effort!

I hope everyone has a great holiday season and a great new year filled with opportunities to enjoy birds and all of nature!

Have fun checking out the final results.

If anyone wants to see the total count spreadsheet, let me know and I will send it to you.

Dan Jackson