December 19, 2010 was once again time for the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Columbus. As I have been doing since 1992, I covered a stretch of the Scioto River roughly between Griggs Reservoir to Grandview Avenue.

My backyard stretch of the Scioto River in Columbus, Dec. 20, 2010
 Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 14mm f2.8II L lens
f8, 1/400th sec., ISO 200

The next day I headed down to the river with the camera to show the scene. This is the same vantage point as last year at this time and it looks very similar, a typical late December day in Columbus. While the tallies I came up with were similar to recent years, some things stood out. A very cold December left all water frozen in the area except parts of the Scioto River. All quarry ponds and the Griggs Reservoir above the dam were frozen solid and have been for a while. An apparent bumper crop of exotic honeysuckle berries along the river produced record high counts for me of American Robins. If the count were held two weeks previously their tallies would have been even higher with lots of Cedar Waxwings in the mix too. I was expecting a bigger variety of waterfowl in the river since there is no significant open water elsewhere in the area, but numbers and variety were average at best. An exception was a record number for me of Mallards along this stretch. Gull numbers and variety were also low with most birds leaving when the area froze up.

Here are my 2010 CBC totals on Dec. 19, 2010:

Canada Goose - 498
Wood Duck - 2
American Black Duck - 31
Mallard - 1278
Ring-necked Duck - 32
Bufflehead - 2
Hooded Merganser - 45
Common Merganser - 1
Pied-billed Grebe - 3
Double-crested Cormorant - 1
Great Blue Heron - 8
Cooper's Hawk - 2
Red-tailed Hawk - 7
Ring-billed Gull - 169
Rock Pigeon - 8
Mourning Dove - 3
Belted Kingfisher - 8
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 6
Downy Woodpecker - 22
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 2
Blue Jay - 9
American Crow - 13
Carolina Chickadee - 71
Tufted Titmouse - 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
White-breasted Nuthatch - 6
Carolina Wren - 9
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 6
Hermit Thrush - 1
American Robin - 1298
Northern Mockingbird - 3
European Starling - 2845
Song Sparrow - 7
Fox Sparrow - CW(1)
White-throated Sparrow - 75
Dark-eyed Junco - 9
Northern Cardinal - 77
House Finch - 11
American Goldfinch - 56
House Sparrow - 188

A Fox Sparrow at my feeder the following day qualified as a "CW" (count week bird) that unfortunately I didn't see the day before.  The only regular that I didn't find was Brown Creeper. I'm sure they were around somewhere, but with all the robins making so much noise and commotion everywhere they were undetected. Some numbers are a bit low because I didn't do much poking around brushy areas near quarries where I probably would have added more birds such as Northern Cardinals and White-throated Sparrows (and robins and starlings too.) A late afternoon Nutcracker performance forced me to end the day earlier than usual.

The following day I took my 100mm macro lens down to the river along with the 14mm. With the snow cover, there weren't many places to photograph the ice, but I took a few along the river :

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100mm f2.8 L IS macro lens
f8, 1/160th sec., ISO 400

Carolina Chickadees seem especially fond of the box elder seeds such as the fallen one above.

Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 100mm f2.8 L IS macro lens
f11, 1/100th sec., ISO 400

As mentioned, I've been covering basically this same area for the Columbus CBC since 1992  along the Scioto River from roughly Griggs Reservoir to Grandview Avenue with some gaps in between where access isn't possible or unproductive. When I started in 1992, much of my time was spent looking through weedy fields of abandoned quarries, but that area has been gradually turned into housing developments - with significant loss of habitat for sparrows especially. The numbers of seed-eating birds declined precipitously after 1995.  Time was replaced then by spending more time along the river itself after a bike path was made south of 5th Avenue. For comparison,  here are the numbers of birds I've seen in about 6 to 8 hours each year for 1993/1994/1995/1996/1997/1999/2001/2002/2003/2004/2005/2006/2007/2008/2009/2010. I can't find my lists for 1992 and 1998.  I was ill and didn't do it for 2000. I spent less time in 1999, so some numbers are relatively too low for that year perhaps.

Canada Goose  15/6/341/129/78/12/147/551/333/617/1855/318/186/342/318/498
Mute Swan  0/0/CW/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/4/0
Tundra Swan 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/0/0/0/0/0
Wood Duck 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/2/2/0/0/8/0/1/2
American Black Duck  0/1/6/7/0/4/3/37/CW/19/16/0/16/30/15/31
Mallard  77/302/890/453/310/191/243/1105/501/1223/519/63/154/619/239/1278
Gadwall 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/0/0/1/6/7/0/0
Northern Pintail  0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Ring-necked Duck  0/0/0/51/0/95/CW/35/119/27/73/36/131/189/92/32
Lesser Scaup  0/0/7/0/0/0/0/0/0/4/0/0/12/3/0/0
Redhead 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/5/0/1/0
Canvasback 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/2/0/0/0
White-winged Scoter  0/0/CW/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Bufflehead  0/0/2/CW/5/0/0/2/0/0/0/0/0/2/CW/2
Common Goldeneye 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0
Hooded Merganser  7/30/2/19/0/82/14/14/49/17/16/26/75/73/64/45
Common Merganser  0/0/1/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1
Red-breasted Merganser  0/0/0/7/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/0/0/0
Ruddy Duck 0/0/0/0/1/0/0/1/0/1/1/0/0/0/1/0
Pied-billed Grebe  0/3/1/2/0/2/CW/1/2/2/3/4/5/0/CW/3
Horned Grebe 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/0/0/0
Double-crested Cormorant 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/2/0/0/0/0/0/1
Great Blue Heron  6/1/5/4/2/2/7/14/4/9/2/3/12/3/10/8
Bald Eagle 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/0/2/0/0/0/0/1/0
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1/0/1/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Cooper's Hawk  1/0/2/1/1/0/CW/CW/2/1/2/1/1/1/1/2
Red-tailed Hawk  2/0/2/1/1/2/0/1/3/2/3/2/2/4/5/7
American Kestrel  0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/CW/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Merlin  0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/0
American Coot  0/14/6/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/1/0/102/4/1/0
Wilson's Snipe 0/0/CW/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Bonaparte's Gull 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/2/0
Ring-billed Gull  56/95/370/983/794/133/353/748/196/130/6/167/461/209/565/169
Herring Gull  2/0/0/0/0/0/5/1/0/0/0/0/1/0/2/0
Rock Pigeon  41/86/273/85/232/12/115/168/202/134/47/67/19/73/149/8
Mourning Dove  38/12/57/57/20/15/31/57/58/20/78/4/34/84/9/3
Eastern Screech-Owl  2/1/3/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Great Horned Owl  1/0/3/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0
Barred Owl  0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0
Belted Kingfisher  2/3/4/1/2/2/3/8/3/5/8/6/6/4/12/8
Red-bellied Woodpecker  0/0/0/0/0/0/2/3/2/3/7/4/3/4/7/6
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0
Downy Woodpecker  16/17/16/5/5/4/14/10/20/16/16/22/24/24/25/22
Hairy Woodpecker  0/1/1/0/0/0/CW/0/1/2/1/0/1/1/2/1
Northern Flicker  9/8/2/1/0/0/CW/1/CW/0/0/0/0/0/4/2
Blue Jay  14/4/15/10/3/0/5/6/5/2/6/1/3/6/10/9
American Crow  15/27/21/27/17/4/14/0/0/0/3/11/6/15/59/13
Carolina Chickadee 41/58/83/40/27/16/54/16/25/24/28/41/69/64/73/71
Tufted Titmouse  2/1/2/1/0/1/2/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/0/1
White-breasted Nuthatch  2/0/1/2/0/2/5/CW/1/3/7/3/2/7/10/6
Brown Creeper  2/7/4/2/0/1/0/5/4/3/9/4/1/2/5/0
Carolina Wren  12/5/7/2/2/1/9/13/3/6/8/16/7/15/8/9
Winter Wren 0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/1/1/3/0/0/0/0/0
Golden-crowned Kinglet  0/0/3/1/0/0/0/2/0/2/6/0/CW/2/6/6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0
Hermit Thrush  0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/4/0/0/0/0/1
American Robin 131/47/37/138/19/9/233/281/345/49/215/47/77/855/426/1298
Northern Mockingbird 5/1/2/1/0/0/3/CW/CW/0/1/0/2/0/5/3
Brown Thrasher 0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
European Starling  587/49/68/51/8/430/344/2020/9162/456/282/285/271/1502/270/2845
Cedar Waxwing  0/6/6/87/59/0/1/0/8/0/2/0/0/186/0/0
Orange-crowned Warbler 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
American Redstart  0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Eastern Towhee 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/0/0/0/1/1/0/0
American Tree Sparrow  0/9/20/4/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Field Sparrow  1/0/CW/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Song Sparrow  24/29/22/4/1/0/1/8/8/0/2/5/7/17/2/7
Swamp Sparrow  0/2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Fox Sparrow 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/CW/0/0/0/0/CW
White-throated Sparrow  114/153/235/123/66/19/104/126/107/116/79/133/110/156/85/75
White-crowned Sparrow  0/1/4/0/0/0/0/0/2/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Dark-eyed Junco  16/64/55/14/25/3/42/21/23/7/5/8/16/3/9
Northern Cardinal  116/145/112/108/47/25/55/49/76/81/50/65/96/71/102/77
Red-winged Blackbird 0/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
Common Grackle 0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/7/0/0/0/0/0
Brown-headed Cowbird 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0
Purple Finch 0/0/0/0/0/0/0/0/1/0/0/0/0/0/0/0
House Finch  58/48/26/8/3/14/22/4/27/1/3/2/35/17/48/11
American Goldfinch  91/89/69/40/13/0/23/6/197/18/10/23/28/143/57/56
House Sparrow  71/53/177/61/61/70/129/116/160/129/103/118/182/320/237/188

For those that like to see look term trends in bird populations, there is a great resource on the web at the National Audubon Society website HERE. Tables and charts can be made for every CBC ever done. I find it interesting to see how much the Columbus CBC has changed in the past 100 years. While many species have declined in the city significantly, other species that were rare in the winter in Columbus are now common. White-throated Sparrows, for example, are only recent additions to Columbus's list of abundant winter avifauna, no doubt that is related to the invasion of honeysuckles that harbor them. Early results from Columbus CBC's only show zero to a few White-throated Saprrows on the tally for the whole CBC count area. Ring-necked Ducks are even more recent additions as Columbus CBC regulars. My particular area is where most of them occur and I have witnessed this first hand. On the other hand, some species such as Northern Bobwhite used to be common in Columbus CBC's, and I have never one anywhere near here in all the years I've been birding.