Feathered Friends: Spring Bird Count finds 157 species

9:19 am | May 7, 2012

The Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of Tennessee Ornithological Society held its 69th annual Spring Bird Count on Saturday, April 28, in five counties across Northeast Tennessee. Participants spread out in seven parties to search for birds in the counties of Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington. Count participants tallied a total of 157 species, including such notable finds as Ring-necked Duck, Sora, Northern Bobwhite, Northern Harrier, Blue Grosbeak, Swamp Sparrow and 28 species of warblers.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - A female Hooded Warbler sits tightly on her nest. With 233 individuals counted, the Hooded Warbler ranked as the most common warbler found during the recent Spring Bird Count conducted in Northeast Tennessee.

I counted in the morning hours with my mother, Peggy Stevens, at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park and along the walking trails following the path of the Watauga River. Some of our best birds included Yellow-breasted Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-crowned Night Heron and Osprey.

Photo courtesy of Donald Rice - A male American Goldfinch, lower left, and a male Eastern Bluebird, upper right, look their very best in their spring plumage. The recent Spring Bird Count found good numbers of both these species. A total of 209 Eastern Bluebirds made this year’s count while participants found 226 American Goldfinches.

During the afternoon, I looked for birds on Holston Mountain with Gary Wallace and Brookie and Jean Potter. We found such good birds as Black-throated Blue Warbler, American Redstart, Hermit Thrush and Ruffed Grouse.

The most common species on the count, in a refreshing twist from the usual European Starling, turned out to be the American Robin with 1,146 individuals counted.

Other common birds included Cliff Swallow (867), European Starling (836) and Red-winged Blackbird (535).

The most common of the 28 species of warblers turned out to be the Hooded Warbler, my favorite member of this family of birds. A total of 233 Hooded Warblers made the count. Other numerous warblers included Ovenbird (206), Black-throated Blue Warbler (114), Black-throated Green Warbler (110) and Black-and-white Warbler (100).

The total for the count is listed below: Canada Goose, 259; Wood Duck, 28; Mallard, 103; Blue-winged Teal, 48; Ring-necked Duck, 2; Bufflehead, 1; and Red-breasted Merganser, 2.

Northern Bobwhite, 2; Ruffed Grouse, 8; Wild Turkey, 40; Common Loon, 14; Pied-billed Grebe, 7; Horned Grebe, 3; and Double-crested Cormorant, 18.

Great Blue Heron, 20; Green Heron, 9; Yellow-crowned Night- Heron, 2; Black Vulture, 35; and Turkey Vulture, 173.

Osprey, 13; Bald Eagle, 4; Northern Harrier, 1; Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2; Cooper’s Hawk, 6; Red-shouldered Hawk, 2; Broad-winged Hawk, 20; Red-tailed Hawk, 26; and American Kestrel, 6.

Sora, 2; American Coot, 1; Killdeer, 37; Spotted Sandpiper, 22; Solitary Sandpiper, 34; Greater Yellowlegs, 1; Lesser Yellowlegs, 14; Least Sandpiper, 4; Pectoral Sandpiper, 2; Wilson’s Snipe, 2; and American Woodcock, 3.

Ring-billed Gull, 4; Forster’s Tern, 8; Rock Pigeon, 148; Eurasian Collared-Dove, 4; Mourning Dove, 202; Eastern Screen-Owl, 6; Great Horned Owl, 2; Barred Owl, 8; and Northern Saw-whet Owl, 3.

Chuck-Will’s-widow, 5; Eastern Whip-poor-will, 44; Chimney Swift, 180; Ruby-throated Hummingbird, 20; Belted Kingfisher, 20; Red-headed Woodpecker, 5; Red-bellied Woodpecker, 55; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 3; Downy Woodpecker, 29; Hairy Woodpecker, 16; Northern Flicker, 28; and Pileated Woodpecker, 44.

Eastern Wood-Pewee, 3; Acadian Woodpecker, 6; Least Flycatcher, 8; Eastern Phoebe, 84; Great Crested Flycatcher, 7; and Eastern Kingbird, 70.

Loggerhead Shrike, 3; White-eyed Vireo, 11; Yellow-throated Vireo, 4; Blue-headed Vireo, 114; Warbling Vireo, 3; and Red-eyed Vireo, 220.

Blue Jay, 185; American Crow, 264; Common Raven, 9; Horned Lark, 1; Purple Martin, 76; Tree Swallow, 217; Northern Rough-winged Swallow, 115; Cliff Swallow, 867; and Barn Swallow, 254.

Carolina Chickadee, 130; Tufted Titmouse, 104; Red-breasted Nuthatch, 18; White-breasted Nuthatch, 21; Brown Creeper, 4; Carolina Wren, 121; House Wren, 70; and Winter Wren, 13.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 77; Golden-crowned Kinglet, 10; Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 6; Eastern Bluebird, 209; Veery, 2; Hermit Thrush, 4; Wood Thrush, 112; and American Robin, 1,146.

Gray Catbird, 23; Northern Mockingbird, 199; Brown Thrasher, 58; European Starling, 836; and Cedar Waxwing, 108.

Ovenbird, 206; Worm-eating Warbler, 24; Louisiana Waterthrush, 17; Golden-winged Warbler, 7; Black-and-white Warbler, 100; Prothonatary Warbler, 1; Swainson’s Warbler, 7; Tennessee Warbler, 1; Nashville Warbler, 1; Kentucky Warbler, 2; Common Yellowthroat, 33; Hooded Warbler, 233; American Redstart, 9; Cape May Warbler, 2; Northern Parula, 31; Bay-breasted Warbler, 1; Blackburnian Warbler, 26; Yellow Warbler, 19; Chestnut-sided Warbler, 53; Black-throated Blue Warbler, 114; Palm Warbler, 2; Pine Warbler, 9; Yellow-rumped Warbler, 28; Yellow-throated Warbler, 34; Prairie Warbler, 6; Black-throated Green Warbler, 110; Canada Warbler, 59; and Yellow-breasted Chat, 7.

Eastern Towhee, 184; Chipping Sparrow, 96; Field Sparrow, 77; Savannah Sparrow, 12; Grasshopper Sparrow, 3; Song Sparrow, 241; Swamp Sparrow, 1; White-throated Sparrow, 22; White-crowned Sparrow, 13; and Dark-eyed Junco, 117.

Scarlet Tanager, 68; Northern Cardinal, 187; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 24; Blue Grosbeak, 1; and Indigo Bunting, 89.

Bobolink, 4; Red-winged Blackbird, 535; Eastern Meadowlark, 205; Common Grackle, 319; Brown-headed Cowbird, 83; Orchard Oriole, 30; and Baltimore Oriole, 11.

House Finch, 52; Red Crossbill, 2; Pine Siskin, 21; American Goldfinch, 226; and House Sparrow, 139.


Jim Lane sent me an email last week to let me know his wife, Wanda, saw her first female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at their feeder on April 24 at 5:23 p.m.

She also saw an American Redstart preening itself on April 25 close to their deck.

“The Redstart is a very colorful bird,” he wrote. “My wife named it as soon as she saw it, then checked her book to verify.”

He reported that they also host Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds in their nest boxes.

The Lanes lives on East H Street in Elizabethton.

American Redstarts and other warblers are still migrating through the region. Although they don’t often visit feeders, a water feature or bird bath will attract them. Sometimes, all that’s needed to attract a warbler is a shrub or tree that provides some shelter and a place for them to preen and rest.


Erwin resident David Caton had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak join the two Red Crossbills at his feeders. He sent me an email on May 1 to notify of the arrival of the male grosbeak.


I found only a few new arrivals at home this past week.

A shy Gray Catbird, which played a game of hide-and-seek in the branches of an American Holly on Thursday, April 26, represented a new arrival. That same evening was also the first time I have observed multiple hummingbirds this spring.

On Saturday, April 28, before leaving for Elizabethton to take part in the Spring Bird Count, I heard a singing Common Yellowthroat. This warbler became the fifth member of its family to make an appearance at home this spring.


To share a sighting, ask a question or make a comment, call me at 297-9077 or email me at ahoodedwarbler@aol.com or bstevens@starhq.com. I am also on Facebook.

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