Thursday, February 4, 2021

Snake Valley Christmas Bird Count 2020

 I didn't know what would happen with the Snake Valley Christmas Bird Count in 2020. With numerous Covid restrictions, like no pre- or post-count gatherings and keeping households in their own vehicles, would we get enough people?

I'm the organizer for the count, one of hundreds held between December 15 and January 5. The Snake Valley count started in 1996-97 and has continued every year since then. It includes parts of Great Basin National Park and nearby communities, spanning both Nevada and Utah.

Fortunately, we had lots of interest in the count, from park staff, locals, agency partners in Ely, and birders all the way from Battle Mountain. We ended up with a total of 20 people, an all-time high for this count. How many species did we find? I'll tell you at the end! 

Here are some of the birds seen.

Great-horned owls

Rock pigeons (they are only found in one small area of our count)

Loggerhead shrike

A loggerhead shrike flew in and perched to the left. The loggerhead shrike that was there first was pissed, turned around, and raised its tail.

Look at those eyelashes! 


White-crowned sparrow

American kestrel--I love these tiny raptors!

Canada goose and American coot. Glad to see the international relations are going well. ;)

Mergansers and American coot

A sheepherder was moving hundreds of sheep. I took a break from photographing birds to watch for a few minutes.

It was so strange to see so many sheep moving in unison, it looked like a wave.


Traffic jam!

Rough-legged hawk--note the distinct dark patches on the wings. I jokingly say this bird has hairy armpits, and for some reason rough-legged and hairy armpits goes together and I can remember this bird!

From the topside there's a white band on the tail. (Northern harriers also have a white band on the tail but fly a little differently.)

Did you key in on those hairy armpits? Ha!


Mountain chickadee

Woodhouse's scrub-jay

Northern flicker

Wild turkey-it's blinking. The cloudy looking eye is the eyelid closed.

This wild turkey had something to say.

So many turkeys! They feed them at the Spring Creek Rearing Station, so you can always find them there.

Dark-eyed Junco

Song Sparrow

Well, this post might seem like a lot of bird photos. We ended up with 62 species total, so this post just barely scratches the surface!

It was a great Snake Valley CBC, and I also enjoyed participating in the Ely CBC. Hopefully next year we can get back to some of the more social aspects of it. 

By the way, for our Backyard Bird Count in 2020, we had a record 47 species. I guess being home more often helped get those extra species! For January 2021, we are up to 13 species, which I will update in the sidebar soon. 

I hope you get to see some good birds this year!

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