The Christmas Bird Count is a long-running, nationwide and worldwide effort to census wintering birds, sponsored by the National Audubon Society. 

The Patagonia Christmas Bird Count was conducted on December 16, 2021. A total of 4,777 individual birds, of 127 species, were counted by 36 participants. Volunteers counted all the birds they saw or heard within a specified area, all located within a 15-mile diameter circle centered about 1/2 mile southeast of the junction of Harshaw Creek Rd and San Rafael Valley Road. 

The most remarkable find of this year’s effort was the first recorded count of a rose-throated Becard. This is a bluebird-sized bird with a short tail, large head, and broad-based, stout bill that it uses to glean insects from dense foliage in trees in short flight sallies. 

A tropical and subtropical bird with a breeding range that extends into the U.S. in only a few Arizona locations, this species has recently been found nesting along Sonoita Creek after being absent for several years. Individuals staying this late into the winter is a recent development. Only adult males have the pink throat patch that gives the species its name. 

The individual found on the count was a female or immature bird, which is entirely a buffy orange color below and brown above with a contrasting dark brown cap. The becard was actually seen by two count parties, first in the morning in the town park, and then in the afternoon at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds (quite nearby as the becard flies – the odds of there being two birds involved is very small!) 

Other unusual or difficult to find species tallied on the count include white-tailed kite, ruddy ground-dove, red-breasted sapsucker, Baird’s sparrow, and blue grosbeak. 

While finding unusual birds is a fun aspect of the count, the information collected on all species becomes part of a large data set that helps determine trends and anomalies in bird populations. This year, for instance, the Christmas Bird Count helped document that pyrrhuloxia numbers were low, and lazuli bunting numbers were high. 

Many thanks to all who participated, and to the private property owners who granted permission for counters to survey birds on their land. 

Northern Shoveler 2 

Gadwall 1 

American Wigeon 2 

Mallard 15 

Mexican Duck 2 

Green-winged Teal 5 

Ring-necked Duck 26 

Gambel’s Quail 7 

Montezuma Quail 21 

Wild Turkey 2 

Eurasian Collared-Dove 21 

Inca Dove 28 

Common Ground-Dove 9 

Ruddy Ground-Dove 2 

White-winged Dove 160 

Mourning Dove 365 

Anna’s Hummingbird 9 

Broad-billed Hummingbird 2 

Violet-crowned Hummingbird 2 

American Coot 2 

Greater Yellowlegs 1 

Spotted Sandpiper 2 

Wilson’s Snipe 2 

Black Vulture 14 

Turkey Vulture 3 

White-tailed Kite 2 

Golden Eagle 2 

Northern Harrier 26 

Sharp-shinned Hawk 4 

Cooper’s Hawk 4 

Red-tailed Hawk 26 

Spotted Owl 1 

Belted Kingfisher 2 

Acorn Woodpecker 24 

Gila Woodpecker 107 

Red-naped Sapsucker 16 

Red-breasted Sapsucker 1 

unidentified sapsucker 2 

Ladder-backed Woodpecker 43 

Arizona Woodpecker 5 

Northern Flicker 116 

Gilded Flicker 1 

American Kestrel 16 

Merlin 1 

Peregrine Falcon 1 

Prairie Falcon 1 

Cassin’s Kingbird 15 

Hammond’s Flycatcher 6 

Dusky Flycatcher 11 

Hammond’s/Dusky Flycatcher 2 

Gray Flycatcher 13 

Pacific-slope Flycatcher 1 

unidentified Empidonax 2 

Vermilion Flycatcher 5 

Rose-throated Becard 1 

Loggerhead Shrike 2 

Hutton”s Vireo 6 

Cassin’s Vireo 2 

Plumbeous Vireo 2 

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay 1 

Mexican Jay 109 

Chihuahuan Raven 17 

Common Raven 244 

Unidentified Raven 13 

Horned Lark 70 

Bridled Titmouse 99 

Verdin 12 

Bushtit 87 

White-breasted Nuthatch 71 

Brown Creeper 2 

Rock Wren 3 

Canyon Wren 4 

House Wren 11 

Bewick’s Wren 40 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2 

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher 4 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet 153 

Eastern Bluebird 1 

Western Bluebird 63 

Mountain Bluebird 4 

Hermit Thrush 24 

American Robin 2 

Curve-billed Thrasher 17 

Crissal Thrasher 1 

Northern Mockingbird 9 

European Starling 1 

Phainopepla 14 

House Sparrow 22 

House Finch 111 

Lesser Goldfinch 97 

Lawrence’s Goldfinch 3 

Chestnut-collared Longspur 45 

Green-tailed Towhee 33 

Spotted Towhee 15 

Rufous-crowned Sparrow 8 

Canyon Towhee 14 

Abert’s Towhee 35 

Rufous-winged Sparrow 9 

Chipping Sparrow 280 

Brewer’s Sparrow 6 

Vesper Sparrow 21 

Lark Sparrow 32 

Black-throated Sparrow 3 

Savannah Sparrow 175 

Grasshopper Sparrow 12 

Baird’s Sparrow 1 

Song Sparrow 16 

Lincoln’s Sparrow 47 

White-throated Sparrow 1 

White-crowned Sparrow 281 

Dark-eyed Junco 49 

Eastern Meadowlark 55 

unidentified meadowlard 5 

Red-winged Blackbird 75 

Brown-headed Cowbird 158 

Brewer’s Blackbird 541 

Orange-crowned Warbler 4 

Common Yellowthroat 2 

Yellow-rumped Warbler 201 

Black-throated Gray Warbler 10 

Townsend’s Warbler 7 

Wilson’s Warbler 1 

Hepatic Tanager 2 

Northern Cardinal 37 

Pyrrhuloxia 6 

Lazuli Bunting 45 

Blue Grosbeak 1