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Bird Counts

Bird populations are constantly changing. No scientist or team of scientists could possibly track the complicated patterns of movement of species around the world. That’s where citizen scientists can help!

Gila River Christmas Bird Count


The Gila River Christmas Bird Count was conducted on December 31, 2023. Twenty participants counted on 10 routes in spectacular weather. A total of 93 species were counted, with high numbers of Gambel’s Quail at 650, Yellow-rumped Warblers at 52, and Great-tailed Grackles at 96. The most unusual species noted was a Lark Sparrow, not commonly seen this time of year.

The highlight for the count was a Crested Caracara that had been seen two days previous to the count, verified with a photograph. While not able to officially count the species as it was not seen on count day, it was reported as a ‘count week’ bird, putting it for the first time on the official CBC list for the area. Additional count week birds were Western Screech Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Turkey Vulture, and Crissal Thrasher, all of which have been seen on previous counts but are unusual.

Several species were notably few in number. Where 758 American Robins were counted in 2022, this year produced only 54. Sparrow species also seemed on the low side this year, although White-crowned Sparrows tried to make up for it with 936 counted. Still, that was a far cry from their historical high of 2253. This points to the importance of trends over time when looking at species numbers, rather than one survey. The Gila River CBC has been conducted most years since 1972 and can give a good indication of trends for various species, although the number and ability of participants and time spent counting are variables that should be taken into consideration. Total number of birds for 2023 is 4037.

A huge thank you to all the participants who came out and counted birds instead of starting an early New Year's celebration!

Past Gila River Christmas Bird Counts

Silver City Christmas Bird Count

62nd Annual Silver City Bird Count: 16 December 2023 John Gorey, Compiler

The 2023 CBC total included 114 species and 6,334 individual birds. We had the highest route participation ever in 2023. Also, we had the highest species count ever beating 2020 by 8 species!

In 2022 we had 93 species and 6364 individuals counted so we saw a major jump in species with about the same number of individual birds. It is interesting to note we are maybe due for another big peak year (9000+ individuals) in the coming years. These years 1981, 1999, 2006, 2015 all have unusually high numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows, or Chipping Sparrows. The peaks occur when we have these high sparrow numbers which have been lacking as of late.

Click here for the full 2023 SC CBC report.

Past Silver City Christmas Bird Counts

Winter Raptor Count

2024 Winter Raptor Survey — Linda Moore, Compiler

Routes are registered with the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA). If GPS information is provided, routes are entered into the database on their website. The data is then available for researchers or anyone to use. Access to the data can be found at www.hmana.org by clicking on research -> winter raptor survey-> view recent surveys.  Any of the surveys in New Mexico are the ones run here, covering a large area from the Arizona border into Otero County. A typical route takes most of a day to complete, and runs anywhere between 100 to 200 miles or even more.

On January 9, 2024, teams of raptor enthusiasts surveyed pre- determined routes for wintering raptors. A total of 12 species were seen, with 261 birds counted. These volunteers drove well over 1000 miles and spent 52 hours in the field, and that was only after they had arrived at the beginning of their often distant route. This total number of birds is consistent with the past five years, except for 2021 when only 135 birds were counted.

As usual, some routes produced a great number of raptors, while others were slim in number. This seems to vary from year to year, depending on the amount of rainfall and vegetation growth. This year the more southern routes produced a low number of birds. Jim Blurton overlayed the map of the current extreme drought area over the raptor routes, and found a correlation with the routes producing the fewest number of birds. In fact, the route from Silver City down to the Redrock area only produced 6 birds, while the Mangas Springs to Mule Creek route produced 68.

Red-tailed Hawks were the most numerous, with 138 counted, including an unusual Harlan’s Hawk observed at the Gila River. American Kestrels were next with 75 seen. More Golden Eagles were seen than in the past 5 years, with 15 counted. A White-tailed Kite was the most unusual species observed. Greater Roadrunners and Loggerhead Shrikes are also counted because they have been historically, with a corresponding 7 and 57 observed.

A heartfelt thank you to all who participated in this year’s survey, especially those who drove those long southern routes with few birds to be seen.

Past Winter Raptor Counts

  • 2023 Winter Raptor Count — Linda Moore, Compiler
  • 2020 Winter Raptor Count — Linda Moore, Compiler
    Nine teams of raptor enthusiasts identified and counted as many raptors as possible on 10 routes, driving over 1300 miles, in 63 hours produced 13 species & 295 individual birds. Northern Harrier 20; Coopers Hawk 7; Red-tailed Hawk 182; Ferruginous Hawk 9; Bald Eagle 4; Golden Eagle 5; American Kestrel 59; Prairie Falcon 1; Merlin 3; Peregrine Falcon 1; Raptor species 1; Great Horned Owl 2; Turkey Vulture 1.

Annual Bird Counts & Citizen Science Projects

Useful Bird Count Links

eBird Pro Tip: Bird Counting 101

Have trouble counting birds, especially large numbers? We all do. Find out everything you need to learn how to count with confidence - Bird Counting 101