FREEPORT CBC RECORDS 208 SPECIES IN
AN "OFF" YEAR
by Jim Morgan
On Sunday, December 18, 1988, 170 observers
recorded 286,761 individuals of 208 species of birds
on the 32nd annual Freeport Christmas Bird Count
(CBC). In spite of our best weather in 10 years,
and our second highest number of participants, the
species total was lower than our 5, 10 and 15-year
average totals of 212, 214 and 210 species respectively.
No new species were added to the cumulative
count list, but several good sightings were in evidence, such as Fulvous Whistling-Duck (3), Harris1
Hawk, White-tailed Hawk, American Oystercatcher,
Solitary Sandpiper, Whimbrel (2), Least Flycatcher
(2), empidonax sp. (not Least Flycatcher), (Plumbeous)
Solitary Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern
Waterthrush (3), Painted Bunting, Bronzed Cowbird
(6), Northern (Baltimore) Oriole (2), Northern
(Bullock's) Oriole and an adult-plumaged male Lesser
Goldfinch, plus six species of hummingbirds (for the
third year in a row). Even in "off" years good birds
are to be found! The biggest miss was Groove-
From the early reports of other UTC counts,
most were down in their species totals. Why was
it an "off" year? It Is easy to blame the o"bvious—
the year-long drought. But who knows for sure?
From observation we do know that there was no
more than the average number of lingering neotropical migrants, and an absence of western rarities.
In addition, at Freeport the north wind prior to
count day had flattened the sea, making the count
day an "off" day on the jetties as well. Keeping
our perspective, it is worth noting that three other
counts during the last 10 years were lower in total
species than the 1988 count. So, while we had an
"off" year, it was not that bad!
The Freeport CBC continues to be a very
successful count because of the efforts of so many
people and organizations. All 170 observers are to
be thanked for putting in a long, hard day, which
for many is fun! Extra special thanks go out to
our ten area leaders, the jetty party and the
"hummingbird team," whose efforts provide the"
impetus for a CBC that is always competitive and
fun. Out-of-town participants also receive special
thanks, as do the Houston Audubon Society for sponsoring the count, and Dow Chemical Company for
hosting the countdown dinner and granting permission
to census birds on their many properties within the
count circle. The count compilers and area leaders
are also grateful to the other property owners who
so graciously allowed access to their land for our
observers on count day.
If you did not participate in this year's Free-
port CBC, please contact one of the compilers or
area leaders for participation in next year's count.
Freeport CBC is part of Texas birding. It is fun,
exciting and a worthwhile endeavor. Come join us
in the future and help us keep It that way!
FOR OG information, checklists, maps, contact
Maxine Davis, 10602 Cedarhurst, Houston
SEND bird sightings for Clearing House to:
Clearing House (OG), P.O. Box 271374, Houston
UTC RARE Bird Alert Tape, sponsored by Piney
Woods Wildlife Society: 821-2846.
FOR LOCAL nature societies' meetings and field
trips call the Audubon Society's "Voice of the
Naturalist" tape: 932-1392.
LONE STAR Rare Bird Tape, sponsored by Audubon
Society. In 713 area call 747-8826. Out of
town call 1-800-TBT-BIRD. When in town do
NOT call the 800 number, please - it costs!
SEND material for Spoonbill to Editor, Libby Price,
3715 Sunset, Houston 77005, 665-1159.
SEND dues, subscriptions and address changes to
Jerry Patrick, 814 St. Francis, Houston 77079.
Members' annual dues: $15 (ONC $5, OG $10).
Spoonbill subscriptions for non-members: $13.
CAMERON PRAIRIE A NEW REFUGE
The 9,600-acre Cameron Prairie in Cameron
Parish, Louisiana will become the 447th national
wildlife refuge, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
has announced. The service will take possession in
March, 1989, and thereby add this prime waterfowl
habitat to the Gulf Coast Joint Venture, a cooperative effort to provide more wintering habitat to help
disperse wintering flocks and reduce the chance of
disease from overcrowding.
The new refuge is located about 15 miles
southeast of Lake Charles. Besides the normal
marsh and waterbirds Peregrine Falcons and Wood
Storks have been seen there.