BirdTrax: Latest Sightings

Bermuda’s 29th CBC was held on Sunday 14th December 2003. Seventeen local birders were out in the field, most of them from dawn to dusk, counting every bird they could find. Our efforts were part of a huge count being carried out by about 2,000 other groups throughout North America, Central America and even a few in South America. Each group tallies all birds found during a 24-hour period between December 14th and January 5th in a designated 15-mile diameter circle. The focus of this year’s census is to gauge the health of bird populations of the North American boreal forests that extend from Alaska to Eastern Canada. A number of forest species including the Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker and White-throated Sparrow are present in Bermuda this winter. However, local birders were particularly keen to see how Hurricane Fabian had affected resident bird populations.

The weather forecast for the 14th sounded good, but at dawn, things looked less than promising with overcast conditions and one or two heavy showers. However, the skies cleared giving bright sunshine and good viewing conditions for most of the day. So what did we find?

  • 9,630 individual birds (very similar to last year’s 9,769)
  • 104 species of birds (99 in 2002)
  • Four new species for count day (the same as last year)
  • European Starling was the most common species (23% of the count)
  • 240 species have now been record on the CBC in Bermuda since 1975

There had been speculation as to the effects of Hurricane Fabian on local bird populations, but I am pleased to report that there was no great change in the number of our local birds compared to previous counts. In fact two of our invasive species recorded their largest ever totals - Great Kiskadee and Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon). It is always rewarding to add new species to the count day. Each year it becomes more difficult, but this year we were able to add four more species. Cahows are not always present in mid to late December, but they have been more active this year, perhaps due to the disruption caused to their breeding grounds by Fabian. David Wingate and Gene Harvey managed to see two birds flying over the ocean from Cooper’s Point, while Jeremy Madeiros had four birds over the Cahow islands after sunset. Paul Watson, counting from his boat in the Paradise Lakes area was able to add the elusive Red-tailed Hawk (now into its third year in Bermuda). Steve Rodwell flew in from New York at lunchtime and immediately started his CBC count in St. Georges. His reward was the first count day Chestnut-sided Warbler. The fourth new record, and perhaps the biggest surprise, was the re-discovery of a Le Conte’s Sparrow at Pembroke Marsh by Bruce Lorhan and James ‘Charlie Brown’ Tatham (see separate story). There were many other good birds too. Members might be surprised to know that 10 Snow Geese were recorded as well as one Canada Goose and 14 species of duck. An impressive 22 species of warblers were noted, including two Yellow-breasted Chats. Other surprises included two Blue Grosbeaks, ten Common Redpolls and three Pine Siskins. Perhaps the most tantalizing sighting was a possible Bicknell’s Thrush at Hog Bay Park. It is once again of considerable concern to report the great number of feral cats, chickens and terrapins seen throughout the island. One cat was actually watched swimming across the narrow part of the pond at Spittal Pond nature reserve.

The results of our count, part of the 104th Annual National Audubon Society count of birds in the Western Hemisphere and other parts of the World, will shortly be available on their web site at

Longtail in flight Bermuda


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Bluebird in flight, worm in mouth, bluebird box


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Cahow in flight Bermuda


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Cockroach Island Bermuda, Audubon Nature Reserve Bermuda

Audubon Nature Reserves

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BHS building Bluebird boxes

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Photos courtesy of Andrew Dobson, Paul Watson, Chris Burville, Ras Mykkal, Jennifer Gray, Rosalind Wingate, Rick Slaughter and others.

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Telephone: (441) 238-8628



The Bermuda Audubon Society
P.O. Box HM 1328
Hamilton HM FX