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In Bird Census, Signs of Warming

Results of the Great Backyard Bird Count are in, and among the gee-whiz infonuggets (like the flock of 5 million redwinged blackbirds reported in Missouri) are signs of climate change. Swallows, which are insect-eaters, seem to be spending their winters farther north than in years past.

Barn swallows, a common species found here in Santa Cruz County, were spotted on the West Coast during the count, which was Feb. 15-18. That includes an American barn swallow seen in the East Bay—not so very far from here.

Those findings correspond with some investigatory Googleations conducted by Hilltromper. A Wikipedia bird list for Santa Cruz County, last updated in 2002 from a Santa Cruz Bird Club chart, lists barn swallows as “Uncommon” in the fall and denoted by a dash in winter (shorthand for “not worth keeping track of, it’s so weird or irregular”).

Fast forward 11 years, and the latest Santa Cruz Bird Club checklist, last updated about 16 months ago, describes the barn swallow as “Fairly common” in the fall and “Uncommon” in the winter, with this accompanying note: “recent pattern of migrants in early winter.” Looks like a trend, all right.

There’s a lot more to check out in the results of the crowdsourced miracle that is the Great Backyard Bird Count. We'll leave you with this factoid that, sorry, just made us laugh: due to increased participation in India, there was a large number of Great Tits reported in Eurasia this year. Look it up! Great Backyard Bird Count Summary.

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