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Following a few years of discussion about establishing a new Christmas Bird Count (CBC) just east of Eugene, we did a test run on January 10, just outside the official CBC period. The circle covered the area from Dorris Ranch up the Willamette River, to include most of Dexter Lake and Fall Creek Dam; up the McKenzie from the 42nd Street bridge to the Walterville Pond; and up the Coast Fork to include about half of Creswell. Owing to COVID, we followed Audubon’s “bubble” requirements. It was quite successful, with 121 species found by about 20 observers in 12 teams.

Highlights included a Greater White-fronted Goose near Walterville, Red-necked Grebe at Dexter causeway, Trumpeter Swan, Sora, and Swamp Sparrow in the The Nature Conservancy Confluence area (special permission was obtained to enter), another Swamp Sparrow at Wallace Ruff Park in Springfield, Western Gull at Lowell marina, an amazing 30 Tricolored Blackbirds at a dairy near Creswell, Osprey on the Middle Fork below Dexter Dam, and a Mountain Chickadee just east of Lowell.

A Dipper, missed on count day, was found for count week just below Dexter Dam and a remarkable 110 Wood Ducks were in one pond near Jasper Park. Northern Shrike, Cedar Waxwing, Savannah Sparrow, and Barred Owl were missed and might be expected in the future. Two teams found Canada Jay, which does not usually reach the Eugene circle. In general, owls, forest species and waterfowl were well represented, along with woodpeckers, Lincoln’s Sparrows, and Hutton’s Vireos. Montane thrushes and White-crowned Sparrows, were hard to find and gulls were mostly uncooperative.

A decision will be made in the fall whether to hold this count again, and if so whether to make it “official,” which of course means finding a date that works in a busy season. Many thanks to all who helped. If the count is held again, we will make an effort to recruit home counters within the circle, which includes much of Springfield, Pleasant Hill and the river valleys.

By Alan Contreras