Crew Sapsucker Reveals 279 Species in Chile and California for Giant Day 2023

Two people birdwatching at dawn on a dirt road in an open gently hilled landscape.
Morning birding in central California with Crew Sapsucker contributors Brian Sullivan and Brooke Keeney. Photograph by way of Lizzy Chouinard.

​For Giant Day 2023, Crew Sapsucker break up into two teams and headed to far-flung portions of the Pacific Flyway: Monterey County, California, and central Chile. In combination the groups discovered an astounding 279 species. The crew selected those two websites to spotlight the significance of the Pacific Flyway in supporting migratory birds and linking the herbal historical past of North and South The us.

See highlights from Giant Day on this thank-you video to our supporters.

The ultimate checklist features a super show off of avian range: warblers, orioles, and grosbeaks; tapaculos, rayaditos, and cinclodes; even albatrosses and penguins. The Lab is thankful to the numerous donors who supported Giant Day, our greatest conservation fundraiser of the 12 months; and to LOWA Boots for sponsoring Crew Sapsucker.

In Chile, A Patchwork of Wetland Preserves Can pay Off

Crew Sapsucker-Chile had their paintings reduce out for them. It’s neatly into autumn, days are quick, and lots of the migrants have already left—some distance from an optimum Giant Day time of 12 months. Thankfully, two crew contributors had been Chilean birders with huge wisdom: Sharon Montecino of the Chilean nonprofit Purple de Observadores de Vida y Silvestre de Chile (ROC), and Vicente Pantoja, a ROC volunteer and eBird coordinator for Chile. Rounding out the crew had been Cornell Lab personnel contributors Cullen Hanks, Jenna Curtis, and Tom Auer.

The crew began at sunup, birding Laguna Batuco, a very powerful remnant wetland within the extremely evolved Santiago space. Their first chook used to be an entertaining Chimango Caracara. They went on to seek out 51 extra species at this forestall, together with the almost invisible Least Seedsnipe in addition to Andean Goose, for which the laguna is a wintry weather stronghold.

Laguna Batuco is a remnant of a once-extensive wetland machine that has slowly been encompassed by way of metropolitan Santiago, the Chilean capital, Hanks mentioned. It’s now one of the most remaining closing refuges for migrating and wintering birds in inland central Chile—and a focal point of ROC’s conservation paintings.

In past due morning the Chile crew looped thru dry foothills on their approach west, selecting up Chilean Tinamou, Chilean Pigeon, Chilean Flicker, and the captivating Moustached Turca.

Then it used to be westward to discover the coast. They reached the Maipo River estuary, a crown jewel of Chile’s coastal wetlands, simply as low tide uncovered a chain of mudflats that drew in foraging shorebirds. The crew crested 100 species with birds like Rufous-chested Dotterel and Silver Teal. Additionally they added lingering long-distance migrants like Hudsonian Godwit and Whimbrel which might be on their option to the Arctic.

By means of past due afternoon they’d arrange scopes on the fringe of the Pacific, scanning chilly ocean waters for seabirds together with Black-browed Albatross, Peruvian Diving-Petrel, and Humboldt Penguin. With 121 species on their checklist, they knew they had been only one chook clear of the Might Giant Day file for Chile. After which simply round sundown, as they had been negotiating site visitors a Band-winged Nightjar flew up in entrance of the automobile: #122, tying the file. (After all, information are supposed to be damaged. That very same day, a crew close to the Peruvian border, 1000 miles to the north, scored 134 species to set a brand new file.) At a port close to Valparaiso the crew labored into the midnight scanning flocks of Kelp Gulls for a brand new chook, however ended the day at 122.

In California, Owls within the Morning, Hawks within the Night

Six thousand miles to the north, on the stroke of nighttime, Crew Sapsucker-California kicked issues off with a unprecedented Noticed Owl. They went directly to have a stellar owling consultation, including Nice Horned, Northern Pygmy, Northern Noticed-whet, Barn, Western Screech, and Burrowing Owls.

In a stroke of synchronicity, the crew in Chile recorded their very own Burrowing Owl at Laguna Batuco at about the similar time. In all, the 2 groups discovered 18 species in not unusual, together with resident birds like American Kestrel and Snowy Egret, in addition to long-distance migrants like Higher Yellowlegs, Black-bellied Plover, and Whimbrel.

By means of morning time the crew—Brian Sullivan, Lizzy Chouinard, Brooke Keeney, and Whitney Mortimer—had been within the drier nation-state southeast of the city of King Town, the place they discovered species like Commonplace Poorwill, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-billed Magpie, Cassin’s Kingbird, Lewis’s Woodpecker, and Ash-throated Flycatcher (their a hundredth species of the day). By means of midafternoon they’d pushed again west to the Pacific to search for seabirds and shorebirds. At this level crew chief Brian Sullivan idea 200 species may well be imaginable, however unhealthy success used to be looking ahead to them at Level Pinos, a famously excellent seawatching spot and a snatch level on their path.

Once they arrived, thick summertime fog had enveloped the headland, knocking visibility right down to about 200 yards. It intended lacking species like Red-footed and Sooty Shearwaters and Black-footed Albatross, and the crew even needed to do with out Commonplace Murre, Wandering Tattler, and Surfbird. They did pick out up Pacific and Commonplace Loons, Black Oystercatcher, or even a lingering rarity, Purple-footed Booby, perched on a yacht in Monterey Harbor.

At the plus facet, the Californian Sapsuckers (in contrast to the Chile crew) had been at the receiving finish of migration. They discovered 8 species of warblers, 2 orioles, 2 grosbeaks, a few Olive-sided Flycatchers, and 13 species of shorebirds—together with a flock of 20 Whimbrels that can neatly had been in Chile remaining month.

Some of the day’s top moments arrived (as they continuously do in birding) on the municipal unload, the place Chouinard and Sullivan noticed a couple of Swainson’s Hawks in a courtship flight. (Swainson’s Hawks are uncommon in Monterey County and nests are even rarer.) Many Swainson’s Hawks spend their winters within the Pampas of Argentina—some other tangible reminder of the connectedness of South and North The us. The California crew completed with an astonishing 174 species for the day.

The underside of a hawk flying overhead.
Swainson’s Hawk by way of Marky Mutchler/Macaulay Library.

The Secret to A Giant Giant Day: Habitat

As Crew Sapsucker prepped for his or her Giant Day in Chile, they constructed their path round a key power: the huge patchwork of small wetlands and safe spaces that ROC has helped create in recent times. By means of tuning in to habitat range, they made the lots of the restricted chook range available at this season. 

To succeed in 120 species in autumn in central Chile, the traditional knowledge holds that you simply’d want to get started up within the Andes, Hanks mentioned—however then you definately’d want to in finding time to pressure a few hours back off to the lowlands. Crew Sapsucker didn’t wish to possibility working out of sunlight on the coast, so that they opted for a distinct technique. 

“We didn’t get the rest utterly impressive [in terms of rarity]… we simply nailed the entire not unusual, anticipated birds we wanted,” Curtis mentioned. Realizing which habitats to hit helped all of it come in combination, because of the ROC teammates—Montecino labored widely at Rio Maipo as a Coastal Answers Fellow, and Pantoja is the coordinator of eBird for Chile.

“Something we noticed scouting is that each and every of those [superficially similar] habitats had other birds,” Hanks mentioned. For instance, Rio Maipo used to be a cornerstone of the path that delivered 50 species, together with Coscoroba Swan. However to trace down a Black-necked Swan they needed to loop in a tiny wetland a couple of miles to the north, in Cartagena—they had been nowhere else to be discovered. 

When making plans a Giant Day “you be told such a lot about the place birds are and the place they aren’t,” Hanks mentioned. “In case your purpose is to peer as many birds as you’ll, it in reality forces you to take into accounts habitat, and the way essential each and every little pocket of wetland is.” 

It in reality highlights the paintings ROC is doing to maintain such a lot of websites within the area, Curtis added. And by way of extension, it’s a nod of popularity for the entire folks and organizations operating to maintain inexperienced house in cities and counties, up and down flyways and throughout continents. Each and every one is a haven, a stopover web page, a year-round house for a singular set of birds.

See extra main points of the day at the Sapsuckers’ eBird travel record. (Word that Noticed Owl does no longer seem at the travel record general—as a safeguard for this and different delicate species, detailed data is suppressed from public eBird output.) Congratulations to the crew, and thanks once more to everybody who supported them!

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