The quest to tally 50 species on the annual Christmas Bird Count here in the Fargo-Moorhead circle came closer than I thought. We ended up tying the record Saturday with 48. A near-miss and a frustrating one. Still it was more than I had expected given the lack of birds seemingly wintering this year.
The "best" birds of the day (those not commonly counted in our circle) were song sparrow, rusty blackbird and white-winged crossbill; each seen only once in the last ten years. The champion was a "staked-out" (it’s been hanging around the yard of the count coordinator for weeks) yellow-bellied sapsucker, last counted in 1975.
The duo of Mark O. and I were responsible for the song sparrow and a record number of European starlings. We estimated about 10,000 of them at the Fargo landfill. This is just a tiny fraction of the living sea of starlings: