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Christmas Bird Count and FeederWatch – December 15, A Good Day

Diane Seward

Citizen Science Projects Coordinator

You saw the day come up bright and sunny- if you were up at sunrise with the bird watchers from the Montgomery Bird Club gathered in our parking lot. For the last eight years, birders doing part of the 15-mile Seneca Christmas Bird Count circle have started their day with hot coffee and rolls at our chapter house instead of meeting on the corner of River Road and West Willard Way. As a bonus, the Conservation Farm bird life gets added to the Seneca CBC tallies each year.

Some of the twenty MBC birders were escorted by our Wildlife Chairman Larry Anderson and Scott (“Turkey Whisperer”) Harmon around the property, while Diane Seward and Jim Tate started the four-hour FeederWatch session. Others went further afield to cover the rest of Sector 7 of the Seneca CBC circle (which includes parts of Montgomery County, Maryland, and Fairfax, and Loudon counties, Virginia). Everyone returned to the chapter house by noon to summarize their observations and plan the mop- up of birds and areas in the sector that may have been missed.

Combined, the field counters and the FeederWatchers tallied 39 species and 1,055 individual birds on the Conservation Farm. The 39 species observed this year were markedly higher than the 31 species counted last year in inclement weather and about the same as the 40 species observed in 2017. This year the only Sharp-shinned Hawk and Winter Wren observed in Sector 7 were found on the Conservation Farm.

Of particular note for the birding community, Jim Tate identified a Common Redpoll, a species observed only twice before (in other sectors of the count circle) in the 60-year history of the Seneca CBC,most recently in 2012. A detailed report has been prepared about the unusual sighting so that the CBC administrators at NationalAudubon and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology can evaluate and, hopefully, confirm the record.

The high number of individual birds reported this year, 1,055, largely due to the crows, increased dramatically from last year when only 315 birds were found on a rainy and dismal day, and 2017 when only 645 birds were observed.

Canada Geese were much more abundant this year (70) than in the last two years (50 and 70).

Nine Eastern Towhees were counted this year, none observed in 2018.

The numbers of other species counted, for example Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, White- breasted Nuthatch, Hermit Thrush, Northern Mockingbird remained relatively stable compared to past counts. When the final numbers for all sectors of the CBC have been tallied, and the Common Redpoll hopefully confirmed, we plan to publish them on our B-CC IWLA newly revised website.

If you would like to see a complete listing of the 2019 count, please let me know, and I will send it to you.

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