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Hartford Summer Bird Count Summary – June 13-14, 2020

June 13, 2020 - June 14, 2020


What a strange year this has been!  After some question as to whether there should even be Summer Bird Counts (SBC) in Connecticut the decision was made to hold them as scheduled.  It was reasoned that birding lends itself nicely to social distancing and the Hartford SBC was held with the recommendation that people go out individually or only with family members rather than in larger groups.

June 13th-14th 2020 provided great weather on both days of the weekend.  There was concern that participation might suffer because of  COVID-19, however, this proved not to be the case as over 60 observers spread out over the Hartford area as compared to 38 participants in 2019.   That is not to say that there were not issues.

In the Hartford area, we were denied access to the campus of the University of Hartford from which we access the Park River and the areas behind the magnet school.  Apparently the campus is closed without authorized permission to enter.

We will check into this before December’s Christmas Bird Count.  In addition to more participants, this year also saw a significant increase in party hours as a total of 195 far exceeded last year’s 127.5 party hours.

Total species came in at 110, a decrease by two from 2019, and included one rather astonishing report.  A possible Western Meadowlark was observed and photographed in the Glastonbury meadows.  Although we are including this sighting on our report for now, this record has been forwarded to the Avian Record Committee for evaluation.   A decision will probably not come until after the Committee’s annual meeting in early 2021.   Although nothing compares to this sighting, additional birds of note included a Great Egret in Wethersfield (last year a bird was seen across the Connecticut River in Glastonbury), an American Woodcock and Yellow-rumped Warbler in East Hartford, a Herring Gull in Hartford, a Sharp-shinned Hawk in Glastonbury, a Blue-headed Vireo in Bloomfield, and a Worm-eating Warbler in West Hartford.

Other species went unreported this year.  The marshes of South Windsor and Glastonbury did not produce any Sora or Virginia Rails this year, perhaps due to the drought?  A number of species, represented by a single individual in 2019, did not return this year.  These included Mute Swan, Ring-necked Pheasant, Tri-colored Heron, and Brown Thrasher.  Grasshopper Sparrow was missed for the second consecutive year, although other grassland birds were well represented.

A single American Kestrel was reported from South Windsor, while at least two Peregrine Falcon nests provided 7 of these magnificent raptors.  Ospreys continue to increase as there are now at least a half dozen nests in the greater Hartford area.  Twenty ospreys, a new high count, were tallied on this year’s Count. Bald Eagles are also doing well with several nests reported along the Connecticut River and 15 eagles reported.

With regard to swallows, the small Purple Martin colony in Glastonbury is hanging on with five birds reported.  Cliff Swallows in Bloomfield, West Hartford and Windsor totaled 40 birds between these three sites.   Although our Count tallied 11 warbler species, several were in very low numbers.  I do believe that more extensive coverage in the West Hartford Reservoir system and in the woodlands in Manchester might increase these numbers.  Rentschler Field, once the premier site for grassland birds, is now no longer accessible and is being managed in such a way that it is no longer providing habitat for grassland species.   Let us hope the few remaining grassland habitats will continue into the future.

The Hartford SBC, has now completed its thirtieth year, providing information on the status of breeding bird populations in the Hartford area.  In the third season of what was a three year, but has become a four year state-wide atlasing project, the Summer Bird Count continues to add valuable data to this worthy effort.  As compiler, I thank the area captains and the 62 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.  For more information on the atlasing project, go to www.ctbirdatlas.org

A full accounting of the species found on the Hartford Count is available by e-mailing me at jaybrd49@aol.com

Jay Kaplan, Compiler

Hartford Summer Bird Count






June 13, 2020
June 14, 2020
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Jay Kaplan

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