Submitted by James Howitz, Cedar Creek Compiler
The Cedar Creek Bog Christmas Count was held on Sunday December 16, 2018. The weather was perfect, with clear skies and a high of 44F. Snow cover was negligible.
We found 24 Red-headed Woodpeckers, down from the record 83 in 2017, but above the long-term average of about 8. The bur oaks at Cedar Creek had a bumper crop of acorns the past summer, but the woodpeckers did not store them for retrieval in the winter. The northern pin oak acorn crop was moderate, and these were the acorns stored by the birds that remained for the winter. The Red-headed Woodpeckers at Cedar Creek in winter generally are near their acorn storage sites and we knew within a hundred feet or so of where each would be, so finding all 24 was easy.
The highlight of the count had to be the three bluebirds along Isanti County Road 56 east of Highway 65. Two of the birds were male Eastern Bluebirds, but the third was a male Mountain Bluebird. Six other Eastern Bluebirds were found, the most ever for the Count. The Mountain Bluebird was new for the Count and for Cedar Creek and was the first ever reported in Isanti County. The other new bird for the Count was an Eastern Phoebe near Highway 65 and Sims Road.
The few open water sites produced the usual Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans and Mallards, but also 8 Wood Ducks, 2 Northern Pintails, and 1 Blue-winged Teal.
It was a good year for owls with the expected Great Horned and Barred Owls being recorded. The 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls eclipsed the old record of just one. As on other Minnesota Christmas Counts, it was a good year for Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins, and White-throated Sparrows.
Other notable birds include Great Blue Heron, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Belted Kingfisher.
The total of 50 species broke the old record of 48. The total of 2619 individual birds was not a record, but was above the 72-year average of 1672 birds.