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Thanks to Chris Reid for this month's banner photo.
Spotted Sandpiper found at the Grandview Wastewater Treatment Plant
on the Yakima County Migration Count

Photo by Denny Granstrand
2021 Yakima County Migration Count
Finds a Near-record 193 Species
 
This year the Yakima County migration count/birdathon spanned four days, May 7-10. During those four days, 16 participants ventured into ten areas of the county. Eight teams scoured the county from the Columbia River south to Toppenish National Wildlife and west to the Cascades on White and Chinook Passes. Cumulative effort resulted in over 900 hours of birding between the eight teams! The primary areas not covered were the restricted areas of the Yakama Nation land, the small portion of Yakima County accessed from the Glenwood side of Klickitat County, and those high areas covered by snow. The goal was to survey various areas in the county to get a snapshot of spring migration in the county. The secondary goal was to try and record as many species as possible for the county wide count.
 
During the four days, 193 species were found. This is slightly above our 10-year average of 190 species. The record is 195 species. One team broke the 100 species mark - 114 on the White Pass route and one team came close to 100, 92 on the Chinook Pass route. Despite the weather conditions and the years, each year the count seems to be very consistent in the number of species. The 10-year range of species counts is 184-195 species, only 11 species different.  The larger species totals typically come when we do the count on the first weekend in May. This gets us more migrant species, particularly shorebirds and waterbirds, and most of the breeders are in by that point, at least enough to be picked up by one team or another. While we had a higher species count this year, it was evident that many migrant species were delayed beyond their average arrival date, and we had below average numbers of many songbird migrant species. The total individuals of 8,539 was below the ten-year average of 9,510.
 
The five most common species on the count were: Cliff Swallow - 742, European Starling - 613, Red-winged Blackbird - 561, Violet-green Swallow - 452 and Brewer’s Blackbird - 321. Four species were seen on all ten routes: American Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Common Raven and Western Meadowlark. Forty-seven species were only seen on one route. These two numbers demonstrate how widespread some species are in the county, while many species are specialists, only occurring in selected areas of the county.
 
Some notables are below, both in terms of highlights, misses and notable numbers.
 
Highlights:
Clark’s Grebe-Priest Rapids Lake
Black Swift-Single bird with Vaux’s Swift over Clear Lake
Shorebirds - 14 species on the SE Sector Route, around Sunnyside
 
Notable Misses:
Long-billed Curlew (continued declining numbers resulted in a miss on this species for the first time), Ring-billed Gull, Barn Owl, Short-eared Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Red Crossbill.
 
Notable numbers:
High count of Vaux’s Swift - 209 (10-year average 53)
Above average counts of Black-necked Stilt and American Avocet - more than twice the ten-year average.
 
Below average numbers of Northern Rough-winged and Barn Swallow, near record low numbers.
 
I would like to say thank you to all the effort of the counters. Their dedication made this count a continued success.
Scott Downes
Horned Lark found along Lewandowski Road north of Sunnyside
on the Yakima County Migration Coubnt

Photo by Denny Granstrand
List of Species Seen on the 2021 Yakima County Migration Count
CANADA GOOSE 297 WILSON’S PHALAROPE     2
WOOD DUCK   15 RED-NECKED PHALAROPE     1
BLUE-WINGED TEAL      4 BONAPARTE’S GULL     1
CINAMMON TEAL   57 CALIFORNIA GULL     3
NORTHERN SHOVELER   24 CASPIAN TERN     4
GADWALL   60 FORESTER’S TERN     1
AMERICAN WIGEON   58 COMMON LOON     9
MALLARD 260 DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT   15
GREEN-WINGED TEAL   15 AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN   16
REDHEAD   53 AMERICAN BITTERN     1
RING-NECKED DUCK   38 GREAT BLUE HERON   26
GREATER SCAUP   38 GREAT EGRET     2
LESSER SCAUP     9 TURKEY VULTURE   51
HARLEQUIN DUCK     4 OSPREY   21
BUFFLEHEAD   13 GOLDEN EAGLE     3
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE   29 NORTHERN HARRIER   16
COMMON MERGANSER   18 SHARP-SHINNED HAWK     6
RUDDY DUCK   17 COOPER’S HAWK     3
CALIFORNIA QUAIL 102 BALD EAGLE   10
CHUKAR     7 SWAINSON’S HAWK     9
GRAY PARTRIDGE     1 RED-TAILED HAWK   72
RING-NECKED PHEASANT   14 FLAMMULATED OWL     2
RUFFED GROUSE      6 WESTERN SCREECH-OWL     1
SOOTY GROUSE   13 GREAT HORNED OWL     7
WILD TURKEY     1 NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL     2
PIED-BILLED GREBE     4 BARRED OWL     1
HORNED GREBE   11 LONG-EARED OWL     1
EARED GREBE     2 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL     1    
WESTERN GREBE   39 BELTED KINGFISHER     3
CLARK’S GREBE     1 LEWIS'S WOODPECKER   41
ROCK PIGEON   54 WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER   14
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE 133 RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER     6
MOURNING DOVE   96 RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER     2
COMMON POORWILL     4 AM. THREE-TOED WOODPECKER       2
BLACK SWIFT     1 DOWNY WOODPECKER     4
VAUX'S SWIFT 209 HAIRY WOODPECKER     12
WHITE-THROATED SWIFT   23 NORTHERN FLICKER   41
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD     4 PILEATED WOODPECKER     8
ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD     3 AMERICAN KESTREL   43
RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD     3 PEREGRINE FALCON     3
CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD     1 PRAIRIE FALCON     1
VIRGINIA RAIL     7 WESTERN KINGBIRD   77
SORA     8 EASTERN KINGBIRD     1
AMERICAN COOT 105 OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER     1
BLACK-NECKED STILT   92 HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER   11
AMERICAN AVOCET   12 GRAY FLYCATCHER     8
KILLDEER   60 DUSKY FLYCATCHER     6
DUNLIN     5 SAY'S PHOEBE   19
LEAST SANDPIPER   30 LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE     3
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER     1 CASSIN'S VIREO     5
WESTERN SANDPIPER   12 WARBLING VIREO   18
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER   11 CANADA JAY     3
WILSON'S SNIPE   22 STELLER'S JAY   32
SPOTTED SANDPIPER   12 CALIFORNIA SCRUB-JAY   19
LESSER YELLOWLEGS     1 CLARK'S NUTCRACKER     2
GREATER YELLOWLEGS     1 BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE 116
       
       
AMERICAN CROW   43 PURPLE FINCH     7
COMMON RAVEN 155 CASSIN'S FINCH   64
HORNED LARK   58 PINE SISKIN 142
BANK SWALLOW 236 LESSER GOLDFINCH     3
TREE SWALLOW 115 AMERICAN GOLDFINCH   73  
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW 452 GRASSHOPPER SPARROW     1  
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW   62 LARK SPARROW     2  
BARN SWALLOW   95 CHIPPING SPARROW   35  
CLIFF SWALLOW 742 BREWER'S SPARROW   20  
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE   24 FOX SPARROW     2  
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE   20 DARK-EYED (OREGON) JUNCO   64  
CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE   13 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW   76  
BUSHTIT     7 GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW   14  
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH   41 SAGEBRUSH SPARROW     1  
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH     8 VESPER SPARROW   25  
PYGMY NUTHATCH     6 SAVANNAH SPARROW     9  
BROWN CREEPER       4 SONG SPARROW   47  
ROCK WREN     7 LINCOLN'S SPARROW     2  
CANYON WREN     6 SPOTTED TOWHEE   56  
HOUSE WREN   24 YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT     1  
PACIFIC WREN   16 YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD   74  
MARSH WREN   21 WESTERN MEADOWLARK 133  
BEWICK’S WREN   27 BULLOCK'S ORIOLE   13  
AMERICAN DIPPER     4 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD 561  
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET     5 BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD 140  
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET   10 BREWER'S BLACKBIRD 321  
WESTERN BLUEBIRD   18 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER   11  
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD   16 NASHVILLE WARBLER   81  
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE   16 MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER     4  
HERMIT THRUSH     3 COMMON YELLOWTHROAT   18
AMERICAN ROBIN 249 YELLOW WARBLER   10
VARIED THRUSH     8 YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER 109
SAGE THRASHER   11 TOWNSEND'S WARBLER   14
EUROPEAN STARLING 613 WILSON'S WARBLER     7
CEDAR WAXWING   27 WESTERN TANAGER   21
HOUSE SPARROW 119 BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK   17  
EVENING GROSBEAK     3 LAZULI BUNTING   30  
HOUSE FINCH 126      
    TOTAL SPECIES    193  
                                      
    TOTAL INDIVIDUALS                            8539  
July 10 (Sat) -- White Pass/Leech Lake Hike  Meet leaders Andy and Ellen Stepniewski at 8:00 a.m. in Yakima, return by mid-afternoon.  Escape Yakima’s July heat with a birding trip up to White Pass. We’ll take a walk around Leech Lake. This modest hike (1.5 miles) features wet subalpine forests, willow-lined streams, marshy edges, and open lake. We’ll seek out bird species tied to upper elevation forests in the Cascades such as Barrow’s Goldeneye, Osprey, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Vaux’s Swift, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Varied thrush, warblers such as Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Townsend’s and Wilson’s, and sparrows such as Dark-eyed Junco, Fox, and White-crowned, then finches such as Cassin’s, and Pine Siskin. Contact Andy and Ellen (steppie@nwinfo.net) for meeting location.  Bring a lunch, fluids for the day, don’t forget sun and insect protection, and dress for the weather.
American Avocet at Sunnyside Wildlife Area
Photo by Cedar Cunningham
April 23 Sunnyside Wildlife Area
Field Trip Summary

 
On April 23, five birders joined me for a tour of the headquarters unit of the Sunnyside Wildlife Area. The marshes around Giffen Lake host wonderful spring habitat for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl, plus breeding habitat for many species. Late April is a great time to see these migrating birds and the returning breeding birds that inhabit the marshes. The day of the trip, the weather was a wonderful morning for a walk around the marshes. In total, 54 species were found during the morning walk.

Breeding birds such as Marsh Wren and Yellow-headed Blackbirds were abundant, and their songs were constant. Waterfowl did not disappoint with many Cinnamon Teal and a pair of its rarer relative, the Blue-winged Teal. A few lingering Bufflehead were mixed in with the Northern Shoveler and Redheads. In early April the marshes had an amazing number of Black-necked Stilt with counts exceeding 150. On this field trip 59 remained, along with 7 American Avocet. Other shorebird species seen included Dunlin, Least Sandpiper and the always entertaining displaying Wilson’s Snipe.

The trip was rounded out with hearing some of the more secretive birds of the marsh including Virginia Rail, Sora and American Bittern. A wonderful morning walk enjoyed by all.

Scott Downes
Black-necked Stilt at Sunnyside Wildlife Area
  
   Photo by Cedar Cunningham
Yellow-headed Blackbird at Sunnyside Wildlife Area     
Photo by Cedar Cunniingham
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Yakima Valley Audubon Society · PO Box 2823 · Yakima, WA 98907-2823 · USA

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