The Millersburg Summer Bird Count

The Millersburg Summer Bird Count

For over 100 years, birders have been gathering in late December or early January to count all the birds that can be found in a 15-mile diameter circle. In the Bobolink Area alone there are 9 of these Christmas count circles. The information that is available from these winter bird counts provides a great deal of information about the changing populations of winter birds.

Fast forward from winter to early summer and you will find another long-running event – the breeding bird survey. This breeding season count is done quite differently. One birder counts birds for three minutes at 50 stops along a 25-mile route. Each year the count is done using the same stops at about the same time of year. The results from these BBS routes can tell a lot about the changing populations of breeding birds.

Another breeding bird method is to survey the nesting birds in an entire state. Usually this is done over a period of around five years. This method involves dividing the state up into sections. Birders sign up to cover the sections as well as they can during the nesting seasons. The results are usually published in book form.

Recently I learned that one enterprising birder in Holmes County came up with the idea of using the winter CBC circle for a one-day bird survey in June. This was a new idea to me although it may be done elsewhere.

The first Millersburg Summer Bird Count took place in 2020 and the results were printed in the 2020 summer issue of The Bobolink birding journal. Birders were already familiar with the Millersburg CBC circle, so it was easy to ask them to survey a section of the circle on the count day. There were eight participants helping with the first survey, but they did well, coming up with a total of 106 different species on June 13, 2020. A total of 8,872 birds were found in the circle.

Some of the unusual species found during the first MSBC included one each of the following birds: common gallinule, night-heron sp., brown creeper, chestnut-sided warbler, pine warbler, prairie warbler, and white-throated sparrow. Also discovered were two blue grosbeaks and two marsh wrens. A total of 217 red-eyed vireos provided a clue that a lot of wooded areas were surveyed.

The second MSBC took place on June 12 of this year. The number of birders involved jumped from 8 to 21. The total number of birds reported was 10,629, with the highest count being 559 red-winged blackbirds. A total of 110 species were detected, with the most unusual being single worm-eating, pine, and blackburnian warblers, as well as one Henslow’s sparrow.

I really like the idea of doing one-day summer counts using the Christmas Bird Count circles. It would be interesting to see the summer totals for the different CBCs in our area. Birders are already covering Mohican State Park during the early summer, so we know that there are nesting birds there that are not easily found anywhere else in the area.

For more information on the MSBC and much more about local birding, you can subscribe to The Bobolink quarterly birding journal by sending a check for $20 for one year or $38 for two years to: The Bobolink, LLC, 6954 County Road 77, Millersburg OH 44654.

Good birding.

Bruce Glick can be reached at