The Month In Birds, December 2014

Download Bob Spahn’s Noteworthies DEC 2014 table here (Noteworthies DEC 2014 – updated).  To report your January (or future) records:  When possible, please enter bird lists into eBird or post on geneseebirds.  Otherwise, please send your reports by the 5th of the month to Lynn Bergmeyer, 187 Longridge Avenue, Rochester, NY 14616.


  1. The month started with cold and some snow for the first two weeks, then changed to a warm Pacific air flow, with lots of clouds and light rain and snow-free for the balance of the month. Temperatures averaged 34.4°F, 4.4° above normal. There was only one day that dropped into the teens, on the 31st, and that few was only tied or less in two years on record. The only temperature record was a record high low on the 24th. Precipitation totaled 2.31”, 0.32” below normal. There was 16.6” of snowfall, 5.2” below normal. Light rain fell on 17 days and light snow on 13 days, with the heaviest snowfall was on the 10th. If you felt depressed by the gray, the feeling was well-founded, with 26 days cloudy and 5 partially cloudy. Larger bodies of water and running water were open for this year’s CBC’s.
  2. All three local Christmas Bird Counts tallied respectable totals, especially with count week birds included. Each count had several record high totals for species, with Snow Goose and several of the diving ducks eclipsing previous highs on the Conesus-Hemlock CBC. Blue Jays nearly doubled the previous high on the Rochester CBC, and Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Carolina Wren were high to record on all three counts. Winter Wren was amazingly numerous in Durand–Eastman Park, but very scarce elsewhere. Most half hardy and irruptive species were low, but still many were at least found. It is not a finch winter, yet three species of winter finches were found on the counts.
  3. The waterbird migration again remained slow for the late fall to early winter period. All the expected species were at least recorded, but peak numbers were generally low especially on Lake Ontario and excepting the record CBC counts. We continued a recent trend of the diving ducks, scaup and Redheads and now Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye, which we used to find all along the Lake Ontario shore, now peaking mainly on the Finger Lakes. Ring-necked Duck, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck counts were also high again on the Finger Lakes. Long-tailed Duck and Common and Red-breasted mergansers were the primary species along the lakeshore, though with the usual scattering of Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye. King Eiders were not found this month. Lingering loons and grebes were scarce. The Point Breeze male Barrow’s Goldeneye returned again first recorded on the 6th. The lone Northern Gannet of the fall was spotted at Sodus Point and likely about an hour earlier from the shore north of Wolcott
  4. Among the raptors Black Vulture was again missed, and only small numbers of Turkey Vultures were reported, though there was a record high on the Conesus-Hemlock CBC. Only one Northern Goshawk and small numbers of Rough-legged Hawks were reported. Falcon reports were all scarce. Snowy Owls did not approach last year’s invasion, but there were still many birds scattered about the region, with approximately 41 reports of at least 22 individuals. CBC owl finding efforts still provide only a weak hint of the numbers of Eastern Screech-Owl resident. The DEC’s Short-eared Owl surveys were off to a good start; birds are being found at most of the usual sites. Please be considerate of nearby residents when visiting these sites to see owls. Too many people and staring into windows is NOT appreciated. Law enforcement has been called in some cases. Northern Shrike reports were down a bit this early winter.
  5. A lone Purple Sandpiper at IBO was the only shorebird reported; found just after the Rochester CBC period.
  6. With little ice edge to gather on, the winter gulls of interest were a few Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, and Glaucous gulls. Bonaparte’s Gull numbers were again very poor. The highlight was the only report of the fall of a Black-legged Kittiwake passing Hamlin Beach SP on the 1st.
  7. Among the non-passerine landbirds not noted above, only a record high pigeon count on the Rochester CBC, a couple of Red-headed Woodpecker reports at new sites, and a good number of lingering Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were notable.
  8. Among the passerines, again many observers thought numbers low and birds hard to find, especially after the cold early in the month. Yet the overall mix and species total was at least average and most of the usual half-hardy species were found, even an Ovenbird and a Pine Warbler at feeders. Four different Eastern Phoebes is likely a high for a December. Lark Sparrow was the only real rarity, lingering from November. The noteworthy table provides more examples. There were two more winter finches found, White-winged Crossbill and Hoary Redpoll. Thinking back, among the missing Common Yellowthroat and the scarcer lingering sparrows, and there were no good counts for wintering blackbirds.


Jim Adams, Janet Akin, Jim & Liz Barry, Sue Barth, Douglas Bassett, Doug & Sharon Beattie, Steven Benedict, Mike Bergin, Lynn Bergmeyer, Barry Bermudez, John Boettcher, Justine Bower, Wes Boyce, Robert Buckert, Bruce Cady, Brad Carlson, Steve Carlson, George Chiu, Jill Church, Linda Clark-Benedict, Jim Cleveland, Kelly Close, Fran Colby, Seaghan Coleman, Clyde Comstock, Andrew Consler, Doug Daniels, Peter Debes, Rose DeNeve, Jon Dombrowski, Wayne Fidler, Kurt Fox, Kyle Gage, Andy Garland, Kristine Genagan, Nathan Goldberg, Charles Goulet, Jay Greenberg, Kevin Griffith, Ralph & Georgia Guenther, Michael Gullo, Judy Gurley, Andrew Guthrie, Chris Guthrie, Anita Gwara, Richard Guthrie, Ethan Gyllenhaal, Helen & Chris Haller, Kim Hartquist, Jim & Allison Healy, Monika Hermann-Kokis, Dick Horsey, Bill Howe, Carolyn Jacobs, Nicholas Kachala, Laura Kammermeier, Jim Kimball, Kathy Kirsch, Leona Lauster, Greg Lawrence, Tim Lenz, Joan & Vern Lindberg, Chuck Linn, Peggy Mabb, Bill Maier, Cindy Marino, Pat Martin, Laurie Mattle, Fran Merrill, Jim Miles, Joyce Miller, Chita McKinney, Adrielle Mitchell, Celeste Morien, Brian & Brooke Morse, Allen Nash, Ann Nash, Sue O’Neill, Andrea Patterson, Norma Platt, Jay Powell, David Prill, RBA Field Trips, Carolyn Ragan, Wade & Melissa Rowley, Jesse Rubenstein, Jennifer Rycenga, Michael Scheibel, Shirley Shaw, Dominic Sherony, Judy Slein, Tom & Pat Smith, Cathy Spahn, Robert & Susan Spahn, Dave Spier, Chris Stanger, Kim Sucy, Jim Tarolli, Steve Taylor, Mike & Joann Tetlow, Mike Wasilco, Bridget Watts, Dave Wheeler, Kinsley Whittum, Tim Wilder, Joe Wing.

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