With the loss of its main engine, Mentor has sputtered and stalled as the top reporting city in the international Great Backyard Bird Count.
Last year Mentor led all cities in the United States and Canada for the number of checklists recorded in the count. This annual census of birds is a joint product of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. It was held Feb. 12 through 15.
In 2009 Mentor registered 762 checklists, the most of any city anywhere. That high count was largely due to the efforts of now-retired Mentor Schools elementary media specialist, Kevin Schaner. It was Schaner who prodded and poked 5th grade students into participating in the count.
With Schaner’s retirement no other Mentor Schools media specialist took up the flag. As a result, the to-date checklist count from Mentor is a paltry 57, just ahead of Chardon’s checklist count of 45. It also is light year’s behind the current Ohio leader, Cincinnati, with a count of 239 checklists.
The most birds counted thus far in Mentor is the Canada goose with 162 birds noted on 17 checklists. The same number of European starlings was noted as well.
And it would appear that the pair of American bald eagles calling the Mentor Marsh their home was sighted. Two eagles were recorded in Mentor on two checklists.
Painesville actually is ahead of Mentor in the number of checklists with 72, good for the present position in the state at third place. Here, counters have so far have tabulated 4 wild turkeys, 105 ring-billed gulls and 1 fox sparrow.
Willoughby got in the act with 30 species noted on 13 checklists. At least so far. Among the birds counted were 7 wild turkeys, 30 rock pigeons, 100 Canada geese though only 1 European starling.
Chardon’s to-date count registers 6 American bald eagles, 543 Canada geese, 60 American robins, 15 snow buntings and 1 swamp sparrows.
The to-date totals for the entire Bird Count includes 1,687,219 American robins,
487,338 Canada geese, and 5,977 American bald eagles of which 55 were counted in Ohio and 433 in British Columbia by residents there who apparently aren’t watching the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Birders have until March 1 to report their sightings. Visit www.birdsource.com for information and to register counts.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn