The Second Annual Uppgaard Wildlife Management Area Christmas Bird Count (CBC) took place Dec. 22 along the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway.
This year the Uppgaard CBC had 14 participants in the field and one feeder watcher for a total of 15 observers. This count circle is 15 miles in diameter and includes most of the 54 mile Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway route. The count circle includes the towns/cities of Pequot Lakes, Ideal Corners, Breezy Point, Crosslake, Jenkins and Manhattan Beach. This particular count circle is unique in that it features and encompasses the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway one of Minnesota’s Byways.
This past fall Judd Brink from Birdsofthebyway.com worked with the Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway Association and the Crow Wing Highway Department to install several new “Birds of the Byway” signs along the byway at Rice Lake/Lowell WMA, Chiarella FMA, Uppgaard WMA, Veteran’s Walking Trail and USACE campground/park in Crosslake. The new signage helps identify these locations for wildlife viewing and outdoor recreation. This is a great asset to all the communities and for our visitors throughout the year.
There were two noticeable changes this year, date of the count and the weather. The First Annual Uppgaard CBC took place a week earlier in 2011. The weather was very mild with some open water that attracted a few uncommon birds like a Belted Kingfisher. This year’s count took place Dec. 22 and found the weather to be more typical for this time of year with over 6 inches snow on the ground.
The 15 participants found 30 species of birds compared to last year’s 23 species. The number of participants more than doubled from the inaugural count of only seven participants. Two participants came from as far as Aitkin and Deerwood and the count also had one individual who said this was their first Christmas Bird Count. The extra set of eyes and ears helped find more birds as expected. This year 12 new birds were added to CBCa list including: American Tree Sparrow (2), Common Merganser (1), Common Redpoll (62), Hoary Redpoll (1) House Sparrow (61), White-throated Sparrow (1), Pine Siskin (1), Pine Grosbeak (51) Ring-necked Duck (1), Red-tailed Hawk (1) Rock Dove (8) and Turkey (4). One of the highlights of the day came from the Pine River canoe Landing where an estimated 75-plus Trumpeter Swans were found.
How does this year compare to last year’ count? This year we did see a few changes in the numbers of individuals such as Black-capped Chickadee from 301 to 383 this year. The number of Blue Jays dropped from 94 to just 50 this year. There are a number of factors that contribute to higher or lower numbers. Over the next few years this census will show if any trends are developing in our region.
Judd Brink is the data compiler and organizer for the Uppgaard CBC. The results from the 2012 CBC will be available soon and can be found at birdofthebyway.com. Please contact Judd Brink at 218-838-4784 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and how you can participate in next year’s count in 2013.