Mariton: Nesting Bird Census

June 16, 2012

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

A group of volunteers gathered at Mariton this morning to count birds.  We assume that any birds in the area right now will be in the process (or the product) of nesting.  We actually did see some juvenile birds. 

Our group counted 42 species this morning and 281 individual birds, using both our ears and eyes.  That is an average count for this census.  Mariton has been conducting Nesting Censuses since 1981.  It is really interesting to go back over the records.  One can see how the forest has changed over those years, just by looking at which birds have become more prevalent, and those that no longer nest here.

I am very pleased to report that Wood Thrushes were our most abundant species, and we counted 25 individuals.   I use this species as an index of the forest’s ability to provide shelter for ground nesting and ground foraging bird species.  The fact that we also saw or heard a large number of Veerys and Ovenbirds adds to my confidence that Mariton’s forest is healthy.

One of the surprises was that we saw  a number of Scarlet Tanagers.  We counted 12 birds, which is high.  But we actually saw a good number of the tanagers that we counted.  Considering that the tanager is brilliant red, it is sometimes very difficult to see one. 

Another surprise was Black Vultures.  We have seen them at Mariton often, (but not as often as the Turkey Vultures).  It wasn’t until I sat down to log the count that I realized we had never counted them during a nesting census.