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2020 City of Reading Bird Count Yields 117 Species

By Bill Uhrich

Jan 07, 2021

A Peregrine Falcon perches below the talons of the Berks County Courthouse eagle during the Reading Christmas Bird Count Dec. 20.

My pandemic-induced city of Reading Bird Count got off to a late start on Feb. 23, but I did manage to find 117 species within the Reading city limits.

In May, I wrote an article that explored the start of the count:

Below are some highlights of the year followed by the complete list.

Old Faithful: Peregrine Falcon. The pair returned to downtown Reading and nested for the 14th straight season.  Four eggs yielded three young, and at least two survived fledging.

Hardest Easy Bird:  Northern Mockingbird.  I scoured the city of Reading for months looking for a Mockingbird and finally found one singing on a pole near George Field on June 19.

Easiest Hard Bird: Black-billed Cuckoo.  Usually a very secretive bird more often heard than seen, a Black-billed Cuckoo flew to a close branch above the Bridal Path Trial below the Pagoda and sat for several minutes, giving me my best view of this species.

With a Little Help from My Friends Part 1:  Least Flycatcher.  Peter and Jane Wolfe are the good-luck charms.  I ran into them on Duryea Drive as they were out pursuing their county list, and Jane picked out the che-bek! call of this flycatcher from a chorus of other birdsong along a power line cut.

With a Little Help from My Friends Part 2:  Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  I didn’t have a backyard feeder running in the spring, where so many of these birds were sighted throughout the county, so finding this migratory bird out in the woods was a bit of a challenge until Mike Slater and Linda Ingram found one for me near Drenkel Field on May 11.

Look Up!  I knew that to get Snow Geese on my count that I would have to look up at the right time to see them flying overhead. I looked up on Feb. 23 for my only sighting of this species.

I’ll Be Darned:  Wild Turkey.  I didn’t expect to hear the gobble and then see one off a trail near Drenkel Field although Wild Turkeys have been spotted on Mount Penn periodically over the years.

Fowl Surprises:  Bufflehead and Wood Duck.  Waterfowl will always be an iffy proposition in Reading since the Schuylkill is the only place to find these species.  I was surprised to find a pair of Bufflehead ducks on the river and at least seven pairs, a rather large number, of Wood Ducks during the spring on the stretch between the Penn Street and Buttonwood Street bridges.

You Can Leave Now: Scarlet Tanager.  Usually this bird is more often heard than seen, and when it is seen it’s high in the treetops hiding in the leafy canopy.  But on one day in spring while looking for a Mockingbird in Nanny Goat Hill, I saw a Scarlet Tanager perched on a tombstone for an extraordinarily long time.  After taking in a close view that filled my binoculars with this spectacular bird, I finally had to walk away and leave it.

Better Late Than Never: American Kestrel.  I finally found a Kestrel Dec. 30 at the end of South Ninth Street, giving me all three falcons for the city: Peregrine, Merlin and American Kestrel.

Last But Not Least:  Tree Sparrow.  I found a Tree Sparrow on the last day of the year at Angelica Creek Park.  It’s noteworthy that the Tree Sparrow is one of only three birds that have been found on all of the Reading Christmas Bird Counts since the first in 1911 along with the Common Crow and the Dark-eyed Junco.  The numbers of this bird wintering in Berks have diminished in the last few decades with fewer than a handful recorded on recent counts.

Better Luck Next Year:  Any number of birds that I missed this year but should have found like Golden-crowned Kinglet, Herring Gull, Great Horned Owl and all the migrating warblers I was incapable of identifying.

Pied-billed Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Green-backed Heron

Snow Goose

Canada Goose

Wood Duck

American Black Duck


Ring-necked Duck


Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Bald Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

American Kestrel


Peregrine Falcon

Wild Turkey


Solitary Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Ring-billed Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

Black-billed Cuckoo

Eastern Screech Owl

Chimney Swift

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Eastern Wood Pewee

Least Flycatcher

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Eastern Kingbird

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Barn Swallow

Blue Jay

American Crow

Fish Crow

Common Raven

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Carolina Wren

House Wren

Winter Wren

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Eastern Bluebird


Swainson’s Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Wood Thrush

American Robin

Gray Catbird

Northern Mockingbird

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling

White-eyed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Northern Parula

Yellow Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Palm Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

American Redstart

Worm-eating Warbler


Louisiana Waterthrush

Common Yellowthroat

Hooded Warbler

Canada Warbler

Scarlet Tanager

Northern Cardinal

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Indigo Bunting

Rufous-sided Towhee

American Tree Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

Baltimore Oriole

Purple Finch

House Finch

Pine Siskin

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow


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