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Ice on the Water

We had a great Christmas Bird Count at Big Oaks! The tradition of the Christmas Bird Count began with the Audubon Society in 1900 as an alternative to a traditional bird hunting competition. The idea was to get get citizens involved in collecting data for bird conservation. These bird counts have continued year after year up to the present, providing invaluable data for monitoring bird populations over time. The counts actually take place from December 14 to January 5. At Big Oaks this year, we had ours on December 30. It was a cold, misty, rainy day—not too favorable weather for birding. But we still were able to see some interesting species—a total of 52 species. The total list for the day is written below:

Wood Duck: 2

Mallard: 48

Hooded Merganser: 27

Wild Turkey: 122

Black Vulture: 2

Golden Eagle: 2

Northern Harrier: 7

Cooper’s Hawk: 2

Accipter sp.: 1

Bald Eagle: 6

Red-Shouldered Hawk: 3

Red-Tailed Hawk: 5

Mourning Dove: 14

Eastern Screech-Owl: 1

Great Horned Owl: 1

Short-eared Owl: 2

Belted Kingfisher: 2

Red-headed Woodpecker: 1

Red-bellied Woodpecker: 26

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: 2

Downy Woodpecker: 21

Hairy Woodpecker: 2

Northern Flicker: 93

Pileated Woodpecker: 2

American Kestrel: 15

Blue Jay: 44

American Crow: 60

Carolina Chickadee: 32

Tufted Titmouse: 17

White-breasted Nuthatch: 14

Brown Creeper: 2

Carolina Wren: 3

Golden-crowned Kinglet: 12

Eastern Bluebird: 63

Hermit Thrush: 1

American Robin: 247

Northern Mockingbird: 1

European Starling: 33

Cedar Waxwing: 115

Yellow-rumped Warbler: 2

American Tree Sparrow: 85

Field Sparrow: 3

Fox Sparrow: 9

Dark-eyed Junco: 240

White-crowned Sparrow: 3

White-throated Sparrow: 68

Song Sparrow: 38

Swamp Sparrow: 7

Eastern Towhee: 12

Northern Cardinal: 69

Eastern Meadowlark: 19

American Goldfinch: 13

House Sparrow: 12

Later in January, we had extremely cold temperatures and about 4 inches of ice on Old Timbers Lake. We used this as an opportunity to create fish habitat using old Christmas trees. With the help of volunteers, we dragged them out around Chimney Point on the lake and tied 3 or 4 to cinder blocks using wire. When the ice melts they will sink and provide good habitat for many fish, hopefully improving the fishing in the are.

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