On Saturday, Dec. 21, 23 people fanned across Dallas County on a mild and sunny day to take part in the annual Christmas Bird Count. They made observations in parks, cemeteries, backyard feeders, roadsides and in the woods along the Raccoon River. The event was sponsored by the Dallas County Conservation Board, Iowa Ornithologists’ union, Iowa Audubon Association, Raccoon River Watershed Association and Leeward Solutions, LLC.

The group observed 47 species of birds and counted 5,523 individual birds. The most abundant were the Canada geese. The group recorded 2,315. European starlings were in the second place with 1,346. These birds can be seen year-round in Dallas County.

The birders made some interesting observations. The unusually warm weather and the absence of snow cover has allowed the summer migrants to stay longer than usual. According to Iowa State University the migrant birds, on average, leave Iowa by mid-November. However, it is it is not uncommon to see a few of these birds during the winter months but not in these numbers.Red-winged blackbirds 187Cedar wax wings 133American Robins 89Eastern bluebirds 49Golden-crowned kinglet 2

The group also saw birds that migrate into Iowa from Canada. The two most common species are the Dark-eyed junco, 199 were recorded, and the American tree sparrow, 53 of these were seen.

The observing team was surprised by the few species of sparrows they saw, only three, as well as the low number of goldfinches, only 17. They recorded a higher number of bluejays than expected, 175 were seen.

The data collected in Dallas County will be added to the information collected by other birding groups across the United States and Canada. This information will be used to get a picture of health of the bird population and help guide conservation action. The results of previous Christmas Bird Counts has shown a decline of 25 to 30 percent in bird populations across the United States.

If you would like more details and a complete list of the birds seen during the Dallas County 2019 Bird Count, contact Mike Havlik and the Dallas County Conservation Board.