Counting Canvasbacks and cormorants

2007 January 21
by David J. Ringer

DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — Today could hardly have been more different from yesterday. I didn’t see a cloud in the bright blue sky, and the sun was warm. The birds seemed as exuberant as I felt — I heard a House Finch in full song outside my apartment.

I returned to Joe Pool Lake in the afternoon and stayed on the dam at sunset to count cormorants. Brian and I have watched them flying south over I-20 and over the lake on other evenings, and I remember seeing them do the same last year too.

An elderly couple stopped to ask what I was doing, and I pointed out a flock of the cormorants over the dam. They said they’d seen the birds flying over before and wondered what they were; they seemed genuinely delighted to find out. They also confirmed my feeling that the number of birds was much lower this evening that it has been at other times. Nevertheless, it was a nice afternoon:

  • Canvasback – 170
  • Pied-billed Grebe – 2
  • Double-crested Cormorant – 480
  • Great Blue Heron – 13
  • Turkey Vulture – 1
  • Osprey – 1
  • Northern Harrier – 1
  • Red-shouldered Hawk – 1
  • Red-tailed Hawk – 2
  • American Kestrel – 2
  • American Coot – 150
  • Ring-billed Gull – 200
  • Forster’s Tern – 2
  • Mourning Dove – 50
  • Belted Kingfisher – 1
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1
  • Northern Flicker – 2
  • American Crow – 10
  • Carolina Chickadee – 1
  • Carolina Wren – 2
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 1
  • American Robin – 5
  • Cedar Waxwing – 25
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – 3
  • Savannah Sparrow – 30
  • Song Sparrow – 5
  • White-throated Sparrow – 5
  • Northern Cardinal – 10 (one singing)
  • Red-winged Blackbird – 500

…and the meadowlarks. I watched a flock of about 50, and all the songs and calls I heard sounded like Western Meadowlark. I don’t know what the story is on meadowlarks here, but I’m trying to find out.

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