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Never-reported species found in Pa. bird count

December 27, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A species of bird never before reported in the local Christmas Bird Count was seen in Caledonia State Park on Dec. 18.

During the annual 24-hour census of bird species conducted by the National Audubon Society, a varied thrush was spotted at the hanging feeders outside the Caledonia State Park office.

The varied thrush is similar to the American robin, but with an orangeish eye stripe, orange wing bars and a wide black band (male) or gray band (female) across the rusty breast. It is more shy than a robin and might wander widely in winter. It is common but elusive in the wet forests of the northwestern United States, eastern Canada and Alaska, according to information from the Conococheague Audubon Society.

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This new species makes the composite list of species seen during 45 years of counting by the Conococheague Audubon Society stand at 128, according to a report from local bird counters. The counters were assigned to an area near the head of Falling Spring outside Chambersburg.

Most species numbers were average, according to Conococheague Audubon Society member Joan Bowen of Chambersburg, who reported that record high counts were set for black vultures (133), turkey vultures (144), red-tailed hawks, mourning doves, pileated woodpeckers and American robins.

Few waterfowl other than mallards and Canada geese were found due to frozen ponds.

No bobwhite quail were reported, and have not been seen or heard since 1995 when two were reported, down from a high count of 153 in 1969. Ten ring-necked pheasants were found, down from a high count of 262 in 1971, Bowen added.

Another species, the Horned Lark, declined from a high of 2,095 in 1967 to 110 observed this year.

The total number of species reported, 72, is average. Total individual birds counted was 20,167, Bowen said.

Sixty-seven people in 21 parties went out in the field to count birds. They spent 68 and a half hours on foot, walking 60 and a half miles, and 60 and a half hours in cars, driving 459 miles, Bowen said. Two parties spent two hours driving 22 miles to find owls starting at 5:30 a.m.

Another 33 participants spent 71 hours watching feeders at home, Bowen reported.

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