18th Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count ─ A Great Success!
by Joe Coleman
One hundred people participating in the count found 96 species and 29,979 individuals, with the most unusual sightings being a first-ever Blue Grosbeak and a count week dark-phase (blue) Snow Goose.
Other highlights included a Common Goldeneye (found on only four previous counts), a Peregrine Falcon (on only one previous), and the following, found on only a third to a half of Central Loudoun’s counts: Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, American Woodcock, Great Black-backed Gull, Gray Catbird, and Brown Thrasher.
Highest counts ever for the Central Loudoun CBC include: 37 Bald Eagles, 18 Cooper’s Hawks (tied), 3,998 Ring-billed and 88 Herring Gulls, 37 Belted Kingfishers, 8 Eastern Phoebes, 1,241 Fish Crows, 59 Brown Creepers, and 24 Winter Wrens. Five American Kestrels, however, was the historic low count.
The 55 Red-headed Woodpeckers found on the 27th were not only a new high for the count, they were an incredible jump from last year’s 3, when there were virtually no acorns to be found in the area.
But this wasn’t the only woodpecker species found in high numbers this year, as the 97 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and 234 Downy Woodpeckers were both high counts while the 33 Hairy Woodpeckers was the second highest.
In addition, while no unusual owls were found on this count, all four of the common owls, Barn (1), Eastern Screech (4), Great Horned (4), and Barred (16), were found in almost perfect conditions for owling.
One of the most interesting aspects of a Christmas Bird Count is how much it varies from year to year; even more interesting is trying to figure out why the differences occur. While some of the reasons, such as the lack of acorns or a heavy rain keeping both birds and birders hunkered down an entire day are obvious, other changes are harder to determine. What is clear is that the value of CBCs comes from the long-term trends they reveal.
There is little doubt that Bald Eagles and Common Ravens are seen in higher numbers than they were 18 years ago, while Northern Bobwhites have virtually disappeared at this time of year. These trends aren’t confined to Loudoun County.
When one compares the results of all the Christmas Bird Counts in our area, these trends are apparent all over the mid-Atlantic. The more than 2,000 counts and more than 20,000 people participating in them, along with scientists who oversee the counts, make this citizen science at its best.
Loudoun Wildlife thanks the many landowners, private and public, who let us visit their properties. Without that access, this count would not be nearly as successful. We also thank the birders, experienced as well as beginner, and especially the 20 or so sector leaders who spent hours in the field and made this a very successful count!
Thank you to all of our counters:
Bob Abrams, Steve Allen, Anna Arguelles, Beth Baker, Ron Baker, Gem Bingol, Susan Blaha, Joan Bodreau, Jan Braumuller, Bill Brown, Bob Butterworth, Dan Carrier, Constance Chatfield-Taylor, Roy Chaudet, Linda Chittum, Rhonda Chocha, Isaac Clizbe, Kent Clizbe, Betsy Coffey-Chaudet, Joe Coleman, Cheri Conca, Jeff Cramer, Jamison Cramer, Candi Crichton, Casey Crichton, Ellie Daley, Phil Daley, Jim Daniels, Katherine Daniels, Matt DeSaix, Suzanne DeSaix, Bethea Dowling, Robert Elder, Susan Elder, Kate Eldridge, Aiden Excell, Jason Excell, Sandy Farkas, Ellie Florance, Mary Ann Good, Kurt Gaskill, Dirck Harris, Olivia Henry, Bruce Hill, Teri Holland, Robin Hoofnagle, Gerco Hoogeweg, Bruce Johnson, Jill Johnson, Lucy Julian, Jodi Kinny, David Ledwith, Spring Ligi, Bob MacDowell, Karin MacDowell, Steve Makranczy, Andy Martin, Tess McAllister, Katie McDole, Laura McGranaghan, Liam McGranaghan, Larry Meade, Carole Miller, Paul Miller, Linda Millington, Sharon Moffett, Rusty Moran, Gary Myers, Jim Nelson, Lynn Nelson, Nick Newberry, Lisa Newcombe, Patrick Newcombe, Bryan Peters, Donna Quinn, Johnnie Ramos, Nancy Reaves, Dori Rhodes, Cheryl Roesel, Aaron Rush, Brian Rush, Del Sargent, Carolyn Smith, Judy Smith, Reets Smith, Emily Southgate, Chris Straub, Jean Tatalias, Pidge Troha Anna Urciolo Helen VanRyzin David VanTassel Jenny Vick, Anthony Wagner, Warren Wagner, Marcia Weidner, Mimi Westervelt, Carol White, Chris White, Jeff Wneck, Holly Wolcott, Jane Yocom