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Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

Anne Savage, Ph.D.

by , Ph.D., Conservation Director, Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment

I have fantastic news from the 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count, which took place last Saturday. We counted a record number of birds and, for the first time, guests joined in the count during Magical Moments.

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Cast Members and their families, guided by Disney’s Animal Programs bird experts, counted more than 24,000 birds representing 119 species at the Walt Disney World Resort and surrounding area. This is a new record for the most birds and the most species observed since we started the bird count four years ago. It’s obvious that our feathered friends enjoy the Walt Disney World Resort as much as our guests do!

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

And this year, for the first time, guests joined the count during Magical Moments, some counting birds side-by-side with Walt Disney World Ambassador Rich Tamayo. At Disney’s Pop Century and Disney’s Art of Animation Resorts, for example, guests counted hooded mergansers (a colorful member of the duck family) coming in to roost on a pond between the resorts, along with little blue herons, tri-colored herons, snowy egrets, and many other birds.

New species that we counted this year included the black-bellied whistling duck, common goldeneye, ruddy duck, American pipit, field sparrow, grasshopper sparrow and the beautiful painted bunting.

Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted Wildlife Wednesdays: Guests Join 4th Annual Walt Disney World Resort Holiday Bird Count—Record Number of Birds Counted

Did you participate in a bird count during the past year? If so, tell us about your favorite moment in the comments.

Did you know?

  • Our Holiday Bird Count is modeled after the Audubon Christmas bird count, which began in 1900. Data collected in bird counts from year to year allow scientists to follow trends in bird populations and abundance over time. These trends help scientists focus their conservation efforts in key bird areas
  • We can help birds and other wildlife by disposing of waste properly, including recycling, to keep trash out of natural areas, and by observing birds and other wildlife from a safe distance and not feeding them “human” food, which is not healthy for them.
  • Since 1995, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund has provided more than $6.1 million to support bird conservation around the world. In Florida, the DWCF has helped protect birds, including the whooping crane, bald eagle, scrub jay, red-cockaded woodpecker and mangrove cuckoo.

Comments

  • We just spent 2 weeks at Animal Kingdom Lodge and really enjoyed all the birds. Nothing beats the Disney ducks tho. Hands down our favorite to watch.

  • I was unaware of the official bird count at the parks, but just happened to be looking around on the internet for any other posts about this past weekend (1/25-1/26) and the unbelievable number of birds in some locations. I am an avid bird photographer, and though I was at Disney World for a vacation, I always keep my eye out for birds while there. I arrived 1/23, and stayed at Saratoga Springs in the Congress Park section – over the first 3 days I noticed a good selection of wintering warblers and smaller perching birds which I expected. However, Sunday 1/26, I awoke to a cacophony of noise off my balcony, and running downstairs to look around, there was nearly a fallout of birds in every tree throughout the Congress Park area, buildings 3 & 4. It was not like anything I’ve ever seen at Disney. I took some photos, and spotted others, and even non birders passing by were commenting on the sheer number of birds (thousands, with many different species). My one-day bird count included the following:

    cedar waxwing
    tufted titmouse
    black and white warbler
    palm warbler
    prairie warbler
    pine warbler
    yellow-rumped warbler
    yellow-throated warbler
    american robin
    blue headed vireo
    black throated blue warbler
    yellow bellied sapsucker
    ruby-crowned kinglet
    blue grey gnatcatcher
    northern cardinal
    blue jay
    grackle
    blue-grey gnatcatcher
    great crested flycatcher
    american goldfinch
    grey catbird
    bald eagle
    baltimore oriole
    belted kingfisher
    carolina chickadee
    chipping sparrow
    bachman’s sparrow
    acadian flycatcher
    blue grosbeak
    magnolia warbler
    eastern bluebird
    eastern phoebe
    eastern towhee
    northern parula
    (possible) pine siskin
    (possible) golden crowned kinglet
    cattle egret
    great egret
    snowy egret
    little blue heron
    great blue heron
    tricolor heron
    sandhill crane
    wood stork
    osprey
    pied-billed grebe
    hooded merganser
    mottled duck
    northern pintail
    mallard
    double-crested cormorant
    anhinga

    I wonder if any other areas of Disney World were experiencing larger than normal numbers of song birds or winter migrators!

  • I love the hooded merganser photo….one of my favorite ducks. I’m so thankful the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund exists and we gladly purchase the buttons, pins and magnets hoping our tiny bit helps. Thank you, Disney for all your great conservation efforts!!

  • I look forward to this post the most! I would love to have help join in the bird count. Maybe next year you guys will release something to lets us know so we all can come and bird watch!

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