Today I conducted my breeding bird survey (BBS) route which starts in Belchertown (BBS Mass route 14)and runs through Ware, Palmer, and Monson to the Connecticut line. The Breeding Bird Survey http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBS/ involves a preset 25 mile route with 3 minutes stops every half mile to census the number and species of birds present. This year I was joined for almost the entire route by Devin and Aidan Griffiths who provided not only a few other sets of eyes and ears but some great navigation and scribing of what we saw and heard. The route is much smoother and quicker with other people along. A 'thank you' to both of them for coming along.
The total number of species for this years route came to 67 species with 818 individuals. The bird with the best representation overall was American Robin with at least one present at 80% of the stops. The other top ten (as a percentage) are as follows: Gray Catbird (62%), Chipping Sparrow (46%), Tufted Titmouse (42%), American Crow (38%) House Wren (36%), Black capped Chickadee (36%), Mourning Dove (34%), Cedar Waxwing (30%) and Common Yellowthroat and Northern Cardinal tied at 28%. The largest overall total of individuals of any one species was American Robin with a total of 86 individuals.
How do the numbers compare to previous years? The numbers are up from the last couple of years but still below what I got back in 2010. Last year I totalled 56 species, in 2011 I totalled 64 and in 2010 I totalled 71 species. The continued 'development' of this route continues with more houses than last year and several outdoor cats roaming the areas. Not surprisingly the species diversity is quite low where the sprawl exists. Luckily there are some protected areas along the way that provide for more diversity.