SF Christmas Bird Count sets record December 28, 2012

Posted by Ilana DeBare in Birding, Golden Gate Audubon

By Ilana DeBare

What a glorious day for a count! It started out cool and windy, especially for the teams by the ocean, but by midday the sun was strong and hats came off.

And best of all… we set a new record for the San Francisco Christmas Bird Count.

Eighteen teams counted a preliminary total of 179 species — breaking the prior SF CBC record of 177 species and surpassing this year’s Oakland CBC total of 177. (Not that San Franciscans are competitive, of course — not in the slightest.)

“It was a remarkable day. I’m anxious to see the total numbers we ended up with,” said CBC co-compiler Dan Murphy, who together with co-compiler Alan Hopkins will now collect and tally final numbers.

North Beach CBC team on Telegraph Hill / Photo by Carlo Arreglo

Some preliminary findings from the count, as reported at the festive CBC dinner at the Log Cabin in the Presidio:

  • The only remaining California Quail found in the 15-mile-wide San Francisco count circle were at the Pacifica archery range.
  • Two Clapper Rails were found at Heron’s Head Park.

The two Clapper Rails found in the count / Photo by Peter Seubert

  • The team covering eastern Golden Gate Park set a new record of 70 species in its territory and had a “seven warbler day.”

Yellow-rumped Warbler / Photo by David Assmann

  • The Sunset team counted 1,900 Red-throated Loons along the beach!
  • The Lake Merced team counted 40 rarities from six species that are not usually found in San Francisco, including Tree Swallows, White-throated Swifts, Great-tailed Grackles and a Tropical Kingbird.
  • The McLaren Park team – one of the teams with a particular challenge since their territory was landlocked, without water birds – found 55 species including four woodpecker species.
  • The Presidio team encountered some 3,000 gulls at a massive herring run at the end of the day.
  • The team with the highest count for the day was the Candlestick area team with a whopping 113 species, edging out the Presidio which had 104.

Counting by bike in the Presidio / Photo by Ilana DeBare

Pygmy Nuthatch at the SF Zoo / Photo by Bob Gunderson

Lunch break for the eastern Golden Gate Park team / Photo by Ilana DeBare

Click here to see more photos of the count (both birds and birders) and the dinner afterwards on our Facebook page.

Click here to read the S.F. Examiner’s coverage of the count team in the Eastern Parks area.

Thanks to the Presidio Trust for co-sponsoring the San Francisco count! If you couldn’t make it to this year’s count, please join us for our next one in December 2013.

Sharing sightings at the CBC dinner / Photo by Ilana DeBare

SF CBC co-compilers Dan Murphy and Alan Hopkins / Photo by Ilana DeBare

Alan Hopkins, Dan Murphy and GGAS Executive Director Mike Lynes / Photo by Ilana DeBare


Tags: Bay Area birds, birding, Christmas Bird Count, Golden Gate Audubon Society, San Francisco birding, San Francisco Christmas Bird Count.


  1. Ray Goodenough
    December 31st, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    I’m a gardener in GGPark – AIDS Memorial Grove – & we have a small population of California Quail that continues to grow. They hang out at the Druid Circle “California Garden” area (between Handball Courts & AIDS Grove), the Rhododendron Dell & between the Japanese Tea Garden & Stow Lake (around greenwaste dump).

    Saw some (5) week before last and hear them often on both sides of Nancy Pelosi drive near Academy of Sciences.

    Have been watching the population steadily grow over the past five years from a few to 18 at one sighting last year.

    Though not officially “counted” on Christmas, they are still here in SF. Very encouraging as I hear the covey at Presidio is gone.

    Ray Goodenough, Gardener SF Rec & Park Dept.

  2. GGAS
    December 31st, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    That *is* encouraging! Thanks for sharing it.