Greetings birders,

What a CBC day (12/30/23) we just had! It started out quite rainy, so the “owlers” had a tough time but cleared by early morning and gave us glorious weather the rest of the day. We were disappointed to cancel the boat for counting pelagic species but safety mandated this because of ocean swells and dangerous debris. Even with that, our preliminary count was 195. As the data are fully analyzed, this number could go up or down, but we are so grateful for all the intrepid and enthusiastic birders who made this count as successful as possible!

Thanks for your interest,

Libby Patten, Liz Muraoka, Glenn Kincaid, Conor McMahon, Linus Blomqvist and Mark Holmgren
SB CBC Coordinators

Audubon’s 124thChristmas Bird Count (CBC) is coming very soon with the Santa Barbara CBC to be held on Saturday, December 30, 2023

For questions about the CBC, please email us at: email hidden; JavaScript is required.

A Few Reminders

For instructions, click the instructions button to the left.

CBC Compilation Event:
The CBC night compilation will be a hybrid event: in-person countdown at the Parish Hall At The Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, as well as Zoom. The Unitarian Society is at 1535 Santa Barbara St. across the street from Alice Keck Park. There is no parking lot, so please park on nearby streets. The event will start at 7:00 pm with a little time for socializing before we begin the countdown at 7:30 pm There will be no dinner this year, although you may bring food as long as you clean up and remove all trash. Joan Kent’s famous chocolate chip cookies will be provided!  We hope to see you in person or virtually!

Compilation Zoom Information
Time: Dec 30, 2023 7:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83939927576?pwd=aXRwNEdHU2tpK2JGZDNFVGtYaVY5QT09

Meeting ID: 839 3992 7576
Passcode: 284134

Count Week starts Wednesday December 27th –  Count week includes the 3 days before and after CBC, so December 27-29 and December 31 to January 2.

The CBC Count Area — A link to a map showing our boundary is HERE. Note, on touch screens use the “+” and “-” buttons to zoom in and out, and one finger to pan the map.

The most accurate field-level check on our boundary (assuming that your GPS gathering device is accurate) is to set a GPS waypoint to our circle’s center: 34.451248, -119.762698, and then make sure that the distance to this point is equal to or under 7.5 miles.

If you have a “smart device” there is an effective app called “Count Circle,” by Stevens Creek Software, which shows on your device the boundary, along with your current location (if your device is set up for GPS location service). Count Circle includes the complete National Audubon database of CBCs (updated as of October 2014), with a total of 2646 different count circles in 89 different states and territories including Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, and Antarctica.  

Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs) have a long history of over 100 years, and are sponsored by the National Audubon Society. Their CBC page is located at http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count . Results may be found there.

The Santa Barbara Natural History Museum generously makes available their Fleischmann Auditorium for our compilation dinner, maintains our compiled bird count records, and has a long and storied relationship with local ornithology. Check out their newly renovated campus and bird hall! They are at http://www.sbnature.org/ .

Find out about local sightings and information concerning SB County birds at the groups.io community group site https://sbcobirding.groups.io/g/main .

For checklists, a regional birding guide, and much more, check out http://www.sbcobirding.com/ .

Instructions

For CBC 124 taking place Saturday, December 30, 2023.

Know your assignment — You should have been assigned an area to cover by the count’s organizers. If you’re unclear on where you’ll be birding on count day, or you have any other questions, contact us at  email hidden; JavaScript is required 

Coordinate with your group — If you’ll be birding with other people you should have received contact information for the other people in your group when you got your assignment. Coordinate with your group leader on logistics: where and when to meet, etc.

Follow COVID-19 guidelines — If you are part of a group that includes people from different households, please follow all state and county public-health guidelines.

Follow along on the count day Google spreadsheet titled “124 CASB TALLY — Enter birds seen by entering your information in the “Observed by” and “Location” columns for any birds you find that no one else has reported yet. No need to add your name if others are already there unless as noted. You may be contacted for more information if necessary.  Note: Access the 124 CASB TALLY with the Google Sheets mobile app to enter updates in the field. If you can’t access this spreadsheet, please tell us your target birds by noon if possible.

Submit your checklists

It’s important to share your checklists or at least tell us your target birds by midday so we can send others out looking for missed species.

  • Use eBird. This is the preferred approach. Please share your checklist(s) with the “sb-cbc” eBird user, preferably at the time you submit the list using the mobile app.  If you submit your checklist from the mobile app without sharing, you will need to log in to the eBird website to share it. See Sharing Checklists at eBird for help. 
  • If you can’t use eBird, you can submit digital Word document checklists to your Area Coordinator.  See the bottom of this page for links to Word-based forms.
  • Group Leaders: you are responsible for your group’s checklist(s) of species identified and the counts for each species. Someone else can record the list, but as group leader you are responsible for its accuracy and submitting final data to your Area Coordinator.

Other documentation — Once you’ve submitted your checklist the other documentation isn’t as time-sensitive. The deadline for submission of the following items is one week after count day.

  • Participant and effort form: All group leaders and solo birders need to report their effort (party count, time, and distance) in the format required by the National Audubon Society’s CBC organizers. The easiest way to do this is to fill out the participant form (see below to download). Then email it to your Area Coordinator (see below).

Rarity documentation: Any bird that is marked with an asterisk on the checklist or Google sheet will require additional documentation. The best way to submit that documentation is to put it in your eBird list; see How to document your sightings from eBird for how to do that. As a last resort you can use the fillable PDF (below) and email it to your Area Coordinator.

Want to do more?

The CBC night compilation will be a hybrid event: in-person countdown at the Parish Hall at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, as well as Zoom.  The Unitarian Society is at 1535 Santa Barbara St. across the street from Alice Keck Park. There is no parking lot, so please park on nearby streets. The event will start at 7:00 pm with a little time for socializing before we begin the count down at 7:30 pm. There will be no dinner this year, although you may bring food as long as you clean up and remove all trash. Joan Kent’s famous chocolate chip cookies will be provided!  We hope to see you in person or virtually!

Evening Compilation

The CBC night compilation will be a hybrid event: in-person countdown at the Parish Hall at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, as well as Zoom.  The Unitarian Society is at 1535 Santa Barbara St. across the street from Alice Keck Park. There is no parking lot, so please park on nearby streets. The event will start at 7:00 pm with a little time for socializing before we begin the count down at 7:30 pm. There will be no dinner this year, although you may bring food as long as you clean up and remove all trash. Joan Kent’s famous chocolate chip cookies will be provided!  We hope to see you in person or virtually!

Compilation Zoom Information

Time: Dec 30, 2023 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83939927576?wd=aXRwNEdHU2tpK2JGZDNFVGtYaVY5QT09


Meeting ID: 839 3992 7576
Passcode: 284134
 

Links and Downloadable Forms

The month before the count, you can help us by scouting your neighborhood or anywhere else within the count circle for any of the interesting or unusual birds on the list below. If you have an assignment for the count, it’s very helpful to scout your location prior to the count. 

Even if you are not participating in the count you can help by birding in the count circle and reporting your findings. Please report sightings of these species within or near the SB CBC Count Circle via eBird, to SBCO Birding, or to Libby Patten at: email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Thanks in advance and happy scouting!

  • Western Cattle Egret
  • Blue-winged Teal
  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Greater Scaup
  • Common Merganser
  • Common Gallinule
  • Virginia Rail
  • Lesser Yellowlegs
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Iceland Gull
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • any owls
    (other than Barn, Great Horned,
    and Western-Screech)
  • White-throated Swift
  • any Hummingbirds
    (other than Anna’s or Allen’s)
  • Sapsuckers
    (other than Red-breasted)
  • Horned Lark
  • any swallows
  • Rock or Pacific Wrens
  • Common Raven
  • Phainopepla
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Black-throated Gray Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Hermit Warbler
  • Wilson’s Warbler
  • any tanagers
  • any grosbeaks
  • Gray Catbird
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Green-tailed Towhee
  • Tri-colored Blackbird
  • any orioles
  • Lawrence’s Goldfinch

Montane Species

  • Mountain Chickadee
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Brown Creeper
  • Townsend’s Solitaire
  • Varied Thrush
  • Cassin’s Finch
  • Mountain Quail
  • Clark’s Nutcracker
CBC bird Collage

124th SB CBC Results Notes (Preliminary)

While the Santa Barbara CBC (12/30/23) experienced weather-related impacts, we thankfully avoided a repeat of the historically high rainfall experienced last year! Rain overnight this time somewhat inhibited owling efforts. Ocean swells and floating debris prevented our boat from launching, so we missed many pelagic species. Daytime conditions were nice, allowing for a very successful count of land birds with a preliminary count of 195 species, a respectable number considering the missing pelagics. It was exciting that our participants found quite a high diversity of rarer warblers (9) and orioles (5). 
 
Some highlights:
  • Sea-watches from land found the following pelagic species: Black-Vented Shearwater, Surf Scoter, Red-throated, Common and Pacific Loons.
  • Owling efforts produced Spotted, Northern Saw-whet, Western Screech, Barn, and Great Horned species.
  • Nine less-common warbler species were found: Lucy’s, Chestnut-sided, Macgillivray’s, Black-and-White, Nashville, Hermit, Black-throated Gray, Wilson’s and Yellow.
  • Five oriole species were found: Bullock’s, Orchard, Hooded, Baltimore and Scott’s.
  • The wintering Warbling Vireo, back for its 11th year at Bohnett Park, was seen in late November, but not on count day or during count week. The “ancient” vireo was refound shortly after count week.
  • Some of the species seen during this montane year including Red Crossbill were found on count day. 

Notable misses (excluding pelagics) are listed below. Some of these were recorded during Count Week but not on Count Day:

  • White-tailed Kite
  • Northern Pygmy-Owl
  • Burrowing Owl
  • Rock Wren
  • Wilson’s Snipe
  • Redhead
  • Caspian Tern
  • Tennessee Warbler

We look forward to analyzing the numbers for each species to obtain a pulse on how they are faring. Many observers have noted reduced numbers of sparrows and other birds, but it’s unclear what this indicates about the overall health of these populations. Some species seem to be arriving later than typical this season. Final details will be determined in the coming weeks as we compile the data and confirm documentation. Many thanks to the efforts of our local and visiting birders for another successful CBC!

Thanks for your interest,

Libby Patten, Liz Muraoka, Glenn Kincaid, Conor McMahon, Linus Blomqvist and Mark Holmgren
SB CBC Coordinators

123rd SB CBC Results Notes:

Saturday’s Santa Barbara CBC (12/31/22) was one for the record-books—unfortunately not in species numbers but in the amount of rain falling on count day. Most of the count circle had at least 2.5 inches of rain, with mountain areas over 4 inches. But 150+ birders dug out their raincoats and logged a total of 196 species. This number is a bit lower than our usual species count but a respectable total given the weather conditions.

Some highlights:

Despite grim sea watching conditions, birders by boat and on land found Pacific, Common, and Red-throated Loons, Surf, Black, and White-winged Scoters, Northern Fulmar, Parasitic Jaeger, Common Murre, and a Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater. Thanks to the ChannelKeeper vessel and captain Ben Pitterle for their efforts.

The long-staying Pacfic Golden-Plover was found at East Beach.

Owling efforts produced Spotted, Northern Saw-Whet, Western Sscreech, Barn, Great Horned, and Burrowing.

Two MacGillivray’s Warblers were found—the continuing bird at the Goleta Tech Park, and a new bird found while scouting Isla Vista.

The White-headed Woodpecker from the Goleta Tech Park was found at another of its sometime haunts, Bella Vista Open Space.

The downtown parking lot Tipu trees produced Lucy’s, Nashville, and Tennessee Warblers, and an apparent Hermit x Townsend’s Warbler hybrid. Another Tennessee was found in a Goleta backyard.

The wintering Warbling Vireo is back for its 10th year at Bohnett Park.

Three species of oriole in the count circle: Bullock’s, Orchard, and Hooded.

Notable misses, most weather-related. Many of these birds have been recorded during Count Week but not on Count Day.

  • Short-eared Owl
  • Winter Wren
  • American Bittern
  • Virginia Rail
  • Tropical Kingbird
  • Osprey
  • Black-throated Gray Warbler
  • Common Raven
  • Williamson’s Sapsucker
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • White-throated Swift

Thanks as always to the efforts of our local and visiting birders for a memorable CBC. Anyone else considering new rain gear??

Download the Final Species List Here.

Rebecca Coulter
CASB Compiler

122nd CBC Results

The 122nd Audubon Christmas Bird Count (for Santa Barbara on January 1, 2022) is now in the books.  Our final official tally is 194 species. State and national ranking for the total number of species is shown below.  The full list of species and numbers of birds recorded for each is available at Audubon’s CBC web page.

The video of the compilation Zoom is HERE.

 Species    Count Circle
        230     Matagorda/Mad Island Marsh, TX
        211     San Diego, CA
        200     Morro Bay, CA30194
        195     Freeport, TX
        194     Santa Barbara, CA
        192     Guadalupe River Delta, TX

We knew when planning for this year’s CBC that it would be another socially distanced event, but we’re getting to be old hands at this, aren’t we? We changed our system for data compilation to leverage eBird, requiring more work by our participants but making data crunching much easier (thank you!). We hoped for rain to help quell the drought and perhaps boost bird abundance for the big day. The weeks of rain in December were a welcome relief, but as CBC approached, we wondered if it had been too much of a good thing. Fortunately, the weather for CBC was clear, crisp and delightful for birding, although the mountain teams were very chilly.

Our final species total of 194 was the lowest in decades and likely reflects many factors. Prolonged drought reduced the food supply that attracts and keeps birds around. Ironically, the significant rain we got just before the count was a mixed bag. It might have helped increase some waterfowl numbers, but mud made some mountain roads impassable, and birding-by-ear near rushing creeks was nearly impossible! Also, COVID continues to impact us. Although the number of participants was higher this year (172) than last (155), we had to scramble to cover areas when participants got sick at the last minute.

Of course, we still enjoyed the day immensely and had some nice highlights. These included the Warbling Vireo returning for its ninth winter at Bohnett Park (such a rare species in winter that we presume it’s the same individual there all these years), Painted Redstart at Rocky Nook Park (there since mid-December), Green-tailed Towhee at a new restoration area in Goleta, Plumbeous Vireo at Chase Palm Park, and Horned Lark at Lane Farms.

For the third year in a row, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was found at Goleta Beach. Amazingly, we found Lawrence’s Goldfinch, a bird we usually miss, at three different locations. A high count of American White Pelican (28 total) was found, also at three different spots. We counted seven owl species, including the less common Northern Pygmy, Spotted, Northern Saw-whet and Short-eared (which has been gracing More Mesa since late fall). The warbler count was lower than usual (10 versus 13 species) with rarer ones including Nashville, MacGillivray’s, Yellow, Black-throated Gray, and Wilson’s. Both Swamp Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow were found (La Cumbre Country Club and the Municipal Golf Course). The pelagic team had reasonably calm conditions on the channel, finding White-winged Scoter and Black Scoter. Among the seabirds, both Clark’s Grebe and Caspian Tern were missed, though routinely found in the past.

Orioles were scarce this year (only two Bullock’s), likely impacted by reduced eucalyptus bloom. Some other trends noted were big drops in Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Eurasian Collared-Dove, House Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, American Coot and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Species that showed much higher than typical numbers included Brown Pelican and Brandt’s Cormorant.

This was not a montane year, so the CBC reflected that with only a few Pine Siskin. We saw no Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red Crossbill nor Townsend’s Solitaire. Brown Creeper was frustratingly elusive although several were found not long before and after the count.

Historical data and observations of longtime birders have seen the abundance and diversity of birds decline significantly over the years. About 10 percent of the species found this CBC were represented by a single individual. Some were birds we rarely get in winter, so were a happy surprise, but others used to be much easier to find (e.g. Sora). A final element in our low total species count is that we’ve greatly benefited for many years by amazing scouting prior to CBC, often by out-of- town birders of supreme skill. Again, COVID disrupted these scouting activities, leading to fewer unusual finds on CBC day. Other count circles (e.g. Matagorda County, Texas) also noted that their high count had a significant fraction of species in the single digits and so could be easily missed..

Thank you for your steadfast support of the CBC: Santa Barbara Audubon, the compiling team, mapping and data crunching experts, and all the birders who scout, mobilize, and inspire us to do it every year. Thank you!

Libby Patten, Liz Muraoka, Joan Murdoch & Glenn Kincaid
SB CBC Coordinators

121st CBS Results

January 2, 2021’s 121st Audubon Christmas Bird Count is now going into the books. Our final official tally is 206 species.

State and national ranking for the total number of species is shown below. The full list of species and numbers of birds recorded for each will be available soon at Audubon’s CBC web page.

Species    Count Circle
        223     Matagorda/Mad Island Marsh, TX
        220     San Diego, CA
        213     Guadalupe River Delta, TX
        210     Freeport, TX
        206     Santa Barbara, CA
        202     Morro Bay, CA

We’ve heard it said in every possible way: 2020 was a year to remember. To that end, in October the CBC team began discussing how and whether to hold the count during a pandemic. We debated the pros and cons, and in mid-December decided to go ahead, with the thanks of many birders who were eloquent in their pleas to continue: It was no small gift to have something to look forward to in this year of canceled plans.

Our results were a wonderful surprise, considering the reduced number of participants (155 instead of the usual 225+). The final species total of 206 reflected a huge effort by dedicated birders who covered our count circle. There were many highlights: The male Tufted Duck returned for its eighth year, turning up at Rancho Goleta Lake; Mountain Quail were found at several places along Camino Cielo; two sea watch finds—Blacklegged Kittiwake and a Sooty/Short-tailed Shearwater—were a great surprise (identified only to genus level but countable!).

For the second year in a row, Yellow-crowned Night-heron was present at Goleta Beach, and American White Pelican surprised everyone at Lake Los Carneros, as did a Least Bittern discovered there at dusk. We counted seven owl species, including the more uncommon Northern Pygmy, Burrowing, Spotted, and Northern Saw-whet. (The Short-eared was not seen on the day, but at this writing it still continues at More Mesa.) The Warbling Vireo returned for its eighth winter at Bohnett Park. (This species is so rare in winter that we presume it is the same individual favoring the same small park year after year.) Hammond’s Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher and Eastern Phoebe made a great flycatcher show; mountain species were represented by Pygmy Nuthatch and Townsend’s Solitaire at La Cumbre Peak. A Lawrence’s Goldfinch was heard calling repeatedly overhead at the Santa Barbara Harbor as a keen-eared birder made his way to the boat for pelagic duty. An unexpected late addition of Pacific Wren in a Goleta backyard came from a savvy birder watching the local listserv for reports. Grasshopper Sparrow was found at San Marcos Foothills preserve, and orioles turned up after scarce reports leading to count day: two Hooded at private residences, and Bullock’s, and Baltimore were also found. Black-and-White Warbler was found at UCSB although very few had been seen around the circle lately. Tennessee, Nashville, MacGillivray’s, Yellow, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Black-throated Gray, and Wilson’s Warblers were all found around the circle after great scouting prior to count day.

Except for the pelagic rarities above, despite calm conditions on the channel, seabirds were few: Clark’s Grebe, Bonaparte’s Gull, Forster’s Tern and Caspian Tern were all missed on count day, though Clark’s Grebe and Forster’s Tern were seen during count week. Other birds recorded during count week were Short-eared Owl, Lucy’s Warbler (actually seen count day, too, but just outside the boundary!), and Hermit Warbler.

Thank you for your steadfast support of the CBC: Santa Barbara Audubon, the compiling team, mapping and data crunching experts, Zoom gurus, and all the birders who scout, mobilize, and inspire us to do it every year. 

Thank you.

Rebecca Coulter, Liz Muraoka, Joan Murdoch and Libby Patten
SB CBC Coordinators

The following is a list of our species totals for the 33 years
from the 91st count (1990–91) through the 123rd count (2022-23)

Count YearCBC NumberSpecies CountNotes
Average207
2022-2023123196Affected by historically heavy rain.
2021-2022122194Continuing drought and some low coverage from pandemic.
2020-2021121206The pandemic year, 30% fewer participants.
2019-2020120203Low numbers of common local land birds.
2018-2019119197affected by fog, clouds and rain
2017-2018118203affected by recent fire and dense fog
2016-2017117196lowest in over 25 years, and first under 200 since 96th count, affected by rain
2015-2016116212
2014-2015115214
2013-20141142222nd highest count, one of just two over 220
2012-2013113213
2011-2012112215tied for 4th highest for this period
2010-2011111211
2009-20101102163rd highest for this period
2008-2009109209
2007-2008108206
2006-2007107224*our highest count in our history*
2005-2006106200heavily affected by rain
2004-2005105200affected by rain
2003-2004104208
2002-2003103210
2001-2002102206
2000-2001101208
1999-2000100213
1998-199999211
1997-199898208
1996-199797215tied for 4th highest for this period
1995-199696198
1994-199595203
1993-199494200
1992-199393198
1991-199292201
1990-1991912145th highest for this period

Santa Barbara County Christmas Bird Count Information

Every year, around the time of Christmas, people all over the nation and many other countries go out on their chosen day to count their local birds. If you are looking for previous years results, take a look at Audubon’s National CBC web page. You can also view California’s CBCs at the Nature Alley page.

The 5 CBC count circles can be viewed at https://goo.gl/uYSN9f

Santa Barbara County is lucky enough to have 5 count circles in which you can participate. Below you will find the available information for each the county’s CBC’s. Check back often as we get near the end of the year, because information often changes.

Christmas Bird Count #124 (Dec 2023)
Santa Barbara County Dates and Contacts

Santa Barbara Christmas Bird Count

The Date is Saturday December 30th, 2023
More Information is on the website or Facebook
Send questions to email hidden; JavaScript is required

Cachuma Christmas Bird Count

The Date is Wednesday December 27th, 2023

Contact Cruz Phillips at email hidden; JavaScript is required

Carpinteria Christmas Bird Count

The Date is Saturday December 16th, 2023

Contact John Callender at email hidden; JavaScript is required">e-Mail or see the website

Santa Maria / Guadalupe Christmas Bird Count

The Date is Sunday December 31st, 2023

Contact John Deacon at email hidden; JavaScript is required">e-Mail or (805)314-8201

La purisima (Lompoc) Christmas Bird Count

The Date is TBD

Contact Alex Abela at e-Mail or (805)934-2873