The 2018 Summer Bird Count (SBC) was held June 8th and 9th, 2019 and featured delightful weather on both days of the weekend. Observers totaled 38, two less than the previous year. Party hours also decreased slightly to 127.5 from last year’s 135, and several key areas were lightly covered during the weekend. The Summer Bird Count, unlike mid-December’s Christmas Bird Count, competes with graduations, vacations and numerous outdoor activities, thus it is not surprising that it is difficult to generate a larger pool of participants. Participation, however, is always rewarding and one never knows what surprises await such as the sight of a Virginia Rail cavorting under a sprinkler on a golf course green at Hartford’s Goodwin Park!
Total species at 112, an increase by two over 2018, and included were a couple species new to our Count. A Tri-colored Heron at Station 43 in South Windsor and a pair of Sand hill Cranes in a Glastonbury farm field were great finds. Other birds of note included a Great Egret and some migrant Least Sandpipers in Glastonbury, a pair of Sharp-shinned hawks and a Brown Thrasher in East Hartford, and a Blue-headed Vireo in Bloomfield. Glastonbury’s marshes also produced Least Bittern and Virginia Rail, while the marshes of Station 43 produced both Virginia Rail and Sora.
In addition to the previously mentioned Sharp-shinned hawks, American Kestrels were found in two areas as were Peregrine Falcons, giving hope that these listed species continue to increase as breeding birds in the Hartford area. The kestrels are utilizing nesting boxes in South Windsor and Glastonbury (thank you Art Gingert and Tom Sayers!). There is no question that both Ospreys and Bald Eagles are doing well with several nests for both species reported along the Connecticut River. Thirteen Ospreys was a record high count, besting last year by one.
Regarding swallows, the small Purple Martin colony in Glastonbury has not grown since it was first discovered in 2015, hanging on with but four birds. Cliff Swallows in Bloomfield and West Hartford, on the other hand, totaled a record 55 birds between these two sites. Although 112 species may seem like a relatively lofty number, consider that ten species were represented by a single individual. These included Mute Swan, Ring-necked Pheasant (likely a stocked bird from the South Windsor meadows), Great Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Sora , Great Horned and Barred Owl, Blue-headed Vireo, Brown Thrasher, and Chestnut-sided Warbler. Four species found in 2018 do not appear on this year’s Count. These include Common Raven, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Grasshopper Sparrow. The latter, diligently searched for at the Hartford Landfill, could not be found this year. Other grassland birds were present including a healthy 8 Eastern Meadowlarks, one of two locations in which this declining grassland bird was located. Bobolinks were found in five areas this year for a total of 59 bird. Sadly, Rentschler Field, once the premier site for grassland birds, is now apparently being actively managed to prevent birds and birders from using the area. This in spite of the fact that plans for large scale development are now on hold. Truly a shame.
The Hartford SBC, has now completed its twenty-ninth year, providing information on the status of breeding bird populations in the Hartford area. In the second season of a three year state-wide atlas project, the Summer Bird Count will again add valuable data to this worthy effort. As compiler, I thank the area captains and the 38 participants who donated their time to participate in the Count this year. Results of ours and the other Connecticut SBCs will be published in an upcoming edition of The Connecticut Warbler, quarterly journal of the Connecticut Ornithological Association. A full accounting of those species found on the Hartford Count is available by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Kaplan, Compiler, Hartford Summer Bird Count