On a rainy December day, almost 200 bird watchers fanned out across Oakland and other East Bay cities in search of birds. They were participating in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. The goal of the count is to compile data about the species of birds living in the area to better understand the status and health of bird populations.
The local chapter of the Audubon Society, Golden Gate Audubon, celebrated its 70th anniversary of the Oakland bird count that day. Since then, its employees have been busy tallying up the numbers from the count. The final results were released Monday.
Only 77,109 birds were counted this year, which is the second lowest total since 1974. However, representatives of Golden Gate Audubon say that these low count numbers are due to heavy rain and wind throughout the day, rather than a drastic decline of birds.
They identified 177 different species throughout the count, which is one above their 20-year average. Two species were found in Alameda that had never been seen on the count before—a Yellow-billed loon and a Baltimore Oriole. Other rare birds seen that day included a Ross’s Goose, Snow Goose, Black Scoter, Snowy Plover, Violet-green swallow, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Tufted Duck and an Evening Grosbeak.
Now that Golden Gate Audubon has compiled all of the data from this year, it will be sent to the National Audubon Society to be added to the final list for all of the U.S. To see all of the national Christmas Bird Count data from 1900 to present go to the Audubon Society’s web page.