Rare bird species take flight

Sea ducks are making a comeback in San Francisco, but Neotropic birds are in shorter supply, according to the preliminary results of an annual bird count encompassing around 170 square miles of the Bay Area.

More than 100 birders trekked out before dawn Tuesday with their binoculars and documented about 158 species for the annual Golden Gate Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count.

But that number is down from 172 last year, which was already on the low end, said counter Dan Murphy.

After the annual dinner where results are shared, Murphy noticed there weren’t any Neotropic birds, which are from an area that includes South America, the West Indies, Central America and tropical Mexico. Warblers, tanagers and orioles were among rare species that were missing.

“That bothers me as a birder, but not from the point of view of a citizen scientist. It’s too soon to analyze it,” Murphy said.

The annual data that’s been compiled since the 1930s helps scientists analyze the migratory habits of birds and what may be affecting their fluctuations.

Murphy said between 1983 and ’87, birders saw an average of 205 sea ducks around the Bay Area, but then in the most recent five-year span, the average dropped to eight.

But this year, 32 were spotted at Fort Funston and one more in the Bay, and he’s hopeful they’re on their way back.

“We’re just seeing this enormous fluctuation. Whether it’s global warming or pollution or whatever, it’s just too soon to tell,” Murphy said.

The official count could be revealed as soon as mid-January or as late as February, he said.

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocalSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Competing Hayes Valley petitions reveal fractured response to tent encampments

Some business owners say they signed a ‘tent-free zone’ petition unwittingly

SF cops to vote on delayed raises amid pandemic

City officials have agreed to new pay raises for officers under a… Continue reading

Balboa Reservoir project wins approval from Board of Supervisors

Development will build 1,100 housing units on 17-acre parking lot near City College

Supervisors fear Tenderloin lawsuit settlement sets bad precedent

UC Hastings case pushed city to move more homeless residents into hotels or shelters

What California knows about Kamala Harris

More than any other vice presidential contender in a generation, Kamala Harris’… Continue reading

Most Read