The Month in Birds, January 2015

Download Bob Spahn’s Noteworthies JAN 2015 table here (Noteworthies JAN 2015 – updated).  To report your 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. January was a cold, gray month with persistent light snows on 25 days after some early days with rain. Temperatures dropped into the single digits on 17 days. Temperatures averaged 19.5° F, 5.2° below normal. It was the 23rd coldest January in 145 years of records and the coldest month since 2009. Precipitation totaled 1.74”, 0.67” below normal, with snowfall at 17.7”, 10.5” below normal. December cold had kept most of the bays and ponds frozen and the Finger Lakes headed that way, but one could find open water early in the month. Before the Waterfowl Count weekend on the 17th, we had enough cold and snow to see shore ice packed in to a mile or more out into Lake Ontario. But a brief warm shot with south winds made for great counting conditions on the official count day, the 18th. After that much of the rest of the month saw persistent cold and most water in the region frozen.
  2. The annual NYSOA Waterfowl Count found a typical variety of species, but numbers totaled less than half of last year and well below the average since 2000. Most of the decrease was in Canada Goose and the diving ducks. This was a result of all of our Finger Lakes being nearly totally frozen plus the large bays on Lake Ontario also iced over. However, those pursuing a good start to their year lists who chose to look for waterfowl early found nearly all the regular local species present for at least the first few days of the month. Greater White-fronted Goose, Ross’s Goose, and Cackling Goose were present in the Hamlin Beach area, Barrow’s Goldeneye at both Pt. Breeze and Sodus Pt., and a very rare adult male King Eider first in the Genesee River at Charlotte and then at Irondequoit Bay Outlet. Loons and grebes were scarce, but the regular species findable. Great Blue Heron and Double-crested Cormorant were just hanging on in small numbers, both often seen around Irondequoit Bay.
  3. Among the raptors, expected wintering species were noted, but numbers were not high, and again this winter Rough-legged Hawk and American Kestrel numbers were low. A Black Vulture was finally found again in the Riga landfill area along with Turkey Vultures and a good collection of gulls.
  4. American Coot numbers dropped off rapidly along with the other waterbirds. A Virginia Rail was again found at the usual site in Mendon Ponds Park just a few days earlier than last January and remained visible at times for the rest of the month. The lone Purple Sandpiper present at Irondequoit Bay Outlet in the last half of December was seen occasionally thru the 5th, with the searches made difficult by the ice on the piers and hunters in the last of the waterfowl season.
  5. This year a few Bonaparte’s Gulls were seen through their typical mid-January departure time. Iceland, Lesser Black-backed, and Glaucous gulls were found at the typical locations – Irondequoit Bay, Lake Edwards, near the Riga landfill, and scattered along the lakeshore, but the freezing of the bays and ponds made them harder to find at times. Thayer’s Gull was also added early in the month.
  6. Surprisingly, a couple of observers found Eurasian Collared-Dove back at the Greenwell farm in Hamlin plus one was seen at Braddock Bay. Snowy Owl continued in a sizable invasion, though not on last year’s scale. Birds were seen at many locations with four found lingering at the Rochester International Airport, Genesee County Airport, and Sodus Point and a total on the order of at least 25 individuals reported. Short-eared Owls were found in good numbers at many of the usual sites, with the DEC running organized counts every two weeks through this winter. A maximum of 19 was reported at the Sand & Taft roads area of West Bloomfield. The only Long-eared Owl report was from the Bergen Swamp area, where they are resident.
  7. Lingering half-hardy birds were again generally hard to come by, though most of the regulars were at least found somewhere. A few observers caught up with Monk Parakeet near West Ridge Plaza. Fish Crow was again harder to find in the Charlotte area but present. With the snow cover, but often blown thin in farm field, there were some very good Snow Bunting counts and lesser numbers of Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur mixed in. Other interesting passerines included a Pine Warbler in Hamlin Beach SP and the fall’s Lark Sparrow also continuing there, lingering Savannah Sparrows and a Fox Sparrow, and a male Yellow-headed Blackbird coming to a feeder in Rush with flocks of assorted other blackbirds. The only winter finches were a few Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins scattered about.
  8. Please send records by the 5th of the month following to Lynn Bergmeyer, 107 Longridge Ave., Greece, NY 14616.


        Jim Adams, Janet Akin, Cheryl Arnold, Richard Ashworth, John Ballou, Carolynn & Jerry Barnhart, Jim Barry, Sue Barth, Doug & Sharon Beattie, Don Bemont, Steven Benedict, Linda Clark-Benedict, Mike Bergin, Barry Bermudez, John Boettcher, Phillip Bonn, Joe Brin, Bruce Cady, Brad Carlson, Wes Boyce, Donna Carter, Jill Church, Kelly Close, Andrew Consler, Don Cowley,  Kathleen Dalton, Doug Daniels, Willie D’Anna, Peter Debes, Mark Denecke, Rose DeNeve, Crystal Doyle, Wayne Fidler, George Ford,  Kyle Gage, Andy Garland, Kristine Genagon, Bill & Linda Gillette, Nathan Goldberg, Charles Goulet, Sheryl Gracewski, Jay Greenberg, Kevin Griffith, Ralph & Georgia Guenther, Michael Gullo, Judy Gurley, Andrew Guthrie, Chris Guthrie, Rich Guthrie, Anita Gwara, Ethan Gyllenhaal, Helen & Chris Haller, David & Vanna Harding, Kim Hartquist, Jim & Allen Healy, Dick Horsey, Bill Howe, IBA Monitoring,  Carolyn Jacobs, Laura Kammermeier, Tom Kerr, Kathy Kirsch, J. Gary Kohlenberg, Hans Kunze, Chris Lawjewski, Tom Lathrop, Leona Lauster, Greg Lawrence, Tim Lenz, Joan & Vern Lindberg, Peggy Mabb, Mary Magistro, Cindy Marino, David Mark, Pat Martin, Lauri Mattle,  Kevin McGann, Jay McGowan, Jim Miles, Chita McKinney, Jim Miles, Joseph Mitchell, Celeste Morien, Roy Morris, Brian & Brooke Morse, Sheila Mumpton, Allen Nash, Ann Nash, Tom Nash, Dave Nicosia, Dave Nutter, Jay Ovsiovitch, Mike Palermo, A.J.Patterson, Carol Phillips, Norma Platt, Jay Powell, Dave Prill, RBA Field Trips, Carolyn Ragan, Vicki Rothman, Jesse Rubenstein, Livia Santana, Michael Scheibel, Shirley Shaw, Dominic Sherony, Judy Slein, Tom & Pat Smith, Cathy Spahn, Robert & Susan Spahn, Dave Spier, Chris Stanger, Joseph Stevenson, Kimberly Sucy, Jim Tarolli, Steve Taylor, Mike & Joann Tetlow, Larry Toole, Matt Voelker, Brad Walker, Mike Wasilco, Bridget Watts, Dave Wheeler, Joseph Wing, Chris Wood, Martha Zettel.

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