Lycoming County birding year in review

This past year was another great one for birding in Lycoming County. Birders recorded a record number of species — including several that never had been seen before in the county.

Two hundred twenty-eight species of birds were reported in the county during 2016. This is one more than the year before.

A total of 283 species have now been recorded, at least five of which were new. A record six birders recorded over 200 species for the year.

The three locations with the most species reported were Mill Street in Montoursville, Rose Valley Lake, and the Susquehanna River Walk.

A lot of the fun of birding is never knowing what rare birds you will find and, in 2016, we found a lot of great ones.

In February, flocks of greater white-fronted geese were found throughout the state, including a group of 13 on the river between Williamsport and Nisbet.

The only rare gull species were three great black-backed gulls in February and a county-first laughing gull in May, all at the Williamsport dam.

In May, the county’s first parasitic jaeger was photographed at Rose Valley Lake. A summer tanager was found at Canfield Island in Loyalsock Township, then another was found a few days later at Mill Street in Montoursville.

Large numbers of black terns and common nighthawks were seen along the river following an August cold front.

In September, an eared grebe was found at Rose Valley Lake.

Highlights for October were a rufous hummingbird visiting a feeder near Elimsport and a county-first cave swallow photographed near the Williamsport dam.

In November, a black-chinned hummingbird showed up in Montoursville and stayed for five days. This was the third record of this species for Pennsylvania.

A small flock of red crossbills and a few individual evening grosbeaks were recorded late in the year.

The first county record of king eider was made at Rose Valley Lake in early December.

After having trumpeter swans in the county during the previous two years, none were reported in 2016. However the trumpeter swan with wing tags “L55” that was near the Williamsport dam in Fall 2015 recently was reported at LaSalle Park in Burlington, Ontario, with many other swans.

Shorebird numbers were low this year, but many species likely go undetected as they briefly stop at ponds and flooded farm fields.

Most of this data comes from eBird, a citizen-science website run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology that collects and organizes user-submitted data about bird sightings. Most active birders submit all their data to eBird.

About 6,500 checklists were submitted to eBird for Lycoming County in 2016. This continues a pattern of growth. Most of the data comes from a small group of active birders, but I would recommend that anyone interested give eBird a try. Even an occasional checklist of the species at a home feeder adds to our understanding of local birds.

Don’t worry if you are just a beginner. Using eBird is a great way to increase your bird identification skills while contributing scientific data.

Happy new year and good birding in 2017.

Brown is an avid local birder and photographer and is vice president of the Lycoming Audubon Society. He may be reached via email at davidebrownpa @gmail.com.

The Lycoming Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society with responsibility for members in Lycoming and Clinton counties. Information about the society and events can be found at http://lycomingaudubon. blogspot.com. The public is invited to share local sightings and join discussions at https://www.facebook.com/groups/lycomingAudubon.

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