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Montane Species

posted by CarlIngwell at
on Tuesday, December 14, 2010 

Last winter, almost no montane species spent the winter months in the valley. Of course Juncos, White-Crowned Sparrows and Pine Siskins are regular valley visitors every year, but we got little else in 2009/10.

This year I have monitored the list and my own backyard, and I've seen quite a difference. There have been multiple reports of Stellar's Jays, Red-Breasted Nuthatches, and Mountain Chickadees. Today I observed a Brown Creeper in my backyard and recall at least one other report. So far, from what I know, there have been no valley reports of Cassin's Finches or Red Crossbill.

I have no doubt that the Wasatch Front CBCs will turn up a few Creepers, Nuthatches, Stellar's Jays and Mountain Chickadees this year. In years past, Salt Lake Counts have had a really hard time coming up with some of these species.

I report all of my significant backyard bird sightings to Birdtalk because it gives people an idea of what to look for in their backyards. Not only that, but the more reports that come through, the more we can follow trends. Following the movement of montane species throughout the valley can give you a picture of conditions in our mountains (food supplies, weather, etc). I am personally interested in all reports of montane species that visit backyard bird feeders in the winters, and would like to encourage all reports.

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Blogger Tim Avery said...

Whoa whoa whoa! I totally had a flock of Red Crossbills in late October--most likely an early and random flight. :)

Backyard reports are an important part of the birding dichotomy (backyard and everywhere else). I tend to believe that backyard birders account for a much higher percentage of bird watchers than those that actively pursue birding outside of their neighborhood.

And as you said, "the more reports that come through, the more we can follow trends". Which can be useful for everyone!

December 14, 2010 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

I recently had a Mountain Chickadee in my yard in Sugarhouse and was pretty surprised on the precedent that I had never seen one there before. Of course my data collection for my yard only spans last winter and this winter, but it does appear that montane species are trending more towards the valley. The CBC should shed some light. Will you gentlemen be participating?

December 15, 2010 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

I would have to say no--I will not.

Today we had our first Brown Creeper at the house. We have had a Ruby-crowned Kinglet the past 3 days, as well as a couple times over the last 2 months. I had expected more montane species with our location, but thus far it's been about the same as living in Sugarhouse.

December 15, 2010 at 8:11 PM  

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