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Wednesday, January 2, 2013
I'm gearing up for the Jackson County Christmas Bird Count this Saturday. I will be covering Territory 2, where the bulk of Florida's Horned larks occur. Florida is unique among the lower 48 states in that it is the only state that does not have a breeding population of Horned larks. Well, at least it used to be until Andy Bankert stumbled across a few birds during his Big Year in 2007. Since then we have found that these birds appear to be resident, rather than regular winter visitors. I was in the area when Andy found them and was able to add them to my Florida list within 45 minutes of getting the call. I missed getting them as a life bird in Florida by only a few months. We had several in Colorado that summer. I will be in the area the day before to scope out habitats and figure a good strategy for covering our territory. I have done this count before, but it was in Territory 1. This time I'm in Territory 2. Not that I remember much about Territory 1 anyway. The count is quite interesting in that it is mostly in rural areas. Lots of road side birding in farms and ranches. Lots and lots of blackbirds. Our area tallied 15,000 Red-winged blackbirds in a morning last time. We also got Rusty and Brewer's blackbird. The count is entirely inland with very little water. It usually records around 90 species. Andy Wraithmell, the compiler, is hoping to get to 100 species this time. I'll do my part to help.