2020 Count Results

Colorado Springs Christmas Bird Counters,

Thank you to all of you for participating in the 2020 Colorado Springs CBC. I appreciate the time and effort that each of you dedicated to make this count a success, and your willingness to follow local health regulations to do so safely. A total of 158 people participated as field observers and/or feeder watchers across 65 parties within the count circle. We covered 189 miles on foot, 348 miles by car, and totaled 294 party hours for the 2020 count, which is the most ever in 71 years of the Colorado Springs CBC and 15% higher than the previous record. Through such effort, we found 91 species on count day and six additional count week species. The 71-year average species count is 81.9 species, though the average since 1990 is 91 species. We tallied 16,601 individual birds, considerably higher than the 71-year average of 12,126 individuals, but the lowest total (excluding the blizzard of 2016) since 2010. The average since 1990 is 16,725 individuals.

I have attached the annual count records, which include historical data for the Colorado Springs CBC back to 1950. The results for the 2020 Colorado Springs CBC are also attached, and are presented by individual count areas.

We set several record high counts of species in 2020, which I suspect is, at least in part, related to the exceptional effort that area leaders and participants made to cover our count circle thoroughly and carefully. The following species set or tied record highs for number of individuals counted: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (2 individuals, tied 1991 & 1993), Downy Woodpecker (100; 90 in 2019), Hairy Woodpecker (36; 26 in 1984), Black-capped Chickadee (544; 399 in 1999), Pygmy Nuthatch (332; 266 in 2014), Brown Thrasher (2; tied 1963, 1980, 1984), and Swamp Sparrow (1; tied 1998, 2000; 2006).

Several species also had especially low numbers, including American Robin (79 individuals), European Starling (399 individuals), and House Sparrow (268 individuals). Although robin populations typically fluctuate based on food availability, the average since 1990 is 325 individuals. The 79 individuals counted in 2020 are the fewest since 2004 (another drought year). The European Starling and House Sparrow counts may to some degree suffer from the bias toward counting in parks and open spaces rather than urban areas. However, I would expect this bias to be roughly equal across years. I would also expect the rapid suburbanization of our region to potentially assist these populations. Excepting the blizzard of 2016, the last time the starling count totaled fewer than 2020’s 397 was in 1962 (372 individuals). The House Sparrow count has not been fewer than the 265 counted in 2020 since 1998 (242 individuals; again excepting 2016). This is apparently part of a widespread House Sparrow decline throughout North America and beyond.

Two unidentified swans were briefly observed at Big Johnson Reservoir during count week, a first for this count. Iceland Gull (Thayer’s), found during count week at Prospect Lake, has only been found during count week one other time (2003) and has not yet been found on count day. A Swamp Sparrow was observed on count day for only the fourth time, and a Field Sparrow was observed for only the fifth time on this count. If you are interested, please take some time to look through the attached historical records.

This event is truly a group effort. Each year, Colorado Springs has one of the highest participant turnouts of any Christmas Bird Count in Colorado. CBCs are a great way to contribute to the effort to understand and help our bird populations. I would like to remind you about Cornell Lab’s Seven Simple Actions to Help Birds, among which is contributing to citizen science. Follow the link to see how else you can easily help birds.

If you have any suggestions for changes or improvements for the Colorado Springs CBC, please share them with me. I am optimistic that we will be able to share this event with one another face-to-face for the 2021 CBC.


Tyler Stuart

Colorado Springs CBC Compiler

Aiken Audubon Society

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Learn more about Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.

Aiken’s results from previous years: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020. Complete data is available by signing up for Audubon’s free e-magazine, American Birds, at