Highly intelligent, extremely social, sometimes maligned, and frequently misunderstood, the American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) is also one of the most common and widespread birds of North America. Studies have documented some startling similarities to human social behavior, including mutual grooming (called "allopreening"), as demonstrated by the adult and hatching year bird on the cover. Crows have been hard hit by the West Nile virus; ongoing studies, including many utilizing Christmas Bird Count data, help to document and understand the magnitude of the virus' impact.
Photo by Steve Metz
Many catalysts draw us into the field on Christmas Bird Counts, and one of them is the change to find an exciting bird. One of the questions many observers have in mind each season is whether they will encounter a Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), certainly one of the world's most spectacular birds of prey. The 106th CBC was a good one for Snowy Owl sightings, with good numbers found in many northern regions. However, the southernmost individual of the season was this Snowy, impeccably photographed on Oklahoma's Hula River Christmas Bird Count.
The holiday season brings presents in many ways, and such gifts are usually wrapped in bright colors. Christmas Bird Count observers on the Econlockhatchee, Florida, CBC ended the year with a spectacular day for their count and turned up many exciting finds. But none was more stunning than this Vermillion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus), not only a holiday treat for participants but the first of this species ever found on the count since its inception in the 84th CBC. Photo/Roy Halpin
This Western Gull was seen on the Sonoma Valley, California, Christmas Bird Count.
John B. Spohrer, Jr.
Sprague's Pipit (Anthus spragueii) are skulkers of the grasslands, and it is often difficult to appreciate the subtle beauty of such birds given how hard they are to see. Normally found on CBCs in the southwest and Mexico, this beautifully photographed example was one of the two found this season at Apalachicola Bay -St. Vincent N.W.R., Florida. Photo/John B. Spohrer, Jr.