Unusual Species Observed During the Seneca Christmas Bird Count


Unusual Species Observed During the Seneca Christmas Bird Count

Diane Seward
Chair, Citizen-Science Projects

The 61st Seneca Christmas Bird Count took place on December 15, 2019. Last month we reported on the results of the count that took place on chapter grounds. This month the focus is on the entire 7 (out of 16 sectors in the count circle), which comprises parts of Fairfax and Loudon Counties in Virginia as well as sections of Montgomery County in Maryland.

The Seneca CBC participants counted 100 species of birds this year, a higher number than in the last two years, plus 3 additional “count week” species–species observed during the week of the count, but not on count day. The birds that we typically see at our feeders were observed–a variety of wood- peckers, cardinals, chickadees, titmice, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays and Song Sparrows. More than 3,000 crows, 242 Whitethroated Sparrows, 166 Cedar Waxwings, and 265 Red- winged Blackbirds were counted in our sector. In the “unusual species” category this year, Sandhill Cranes showed up again, as they have in the past three years. These birds seem to spend their nights on the Virginia side of the Potomac, in the Algonkin Nature Preserve, then fly over the river to feed in the agriculture preserve during the day and in the golf course on West Willard Road. Snow Geese and Tundra Swans were also observed, as were a Pine Warbler and a Laughing Gull, all considered unusual. The most unusual species seen was a female Rufous Hummingbird, which is a first for the Seneca CBC and brings our cumulative Seneca CBC species to 173. Pine Siskins and Red-breasted Nuthatches, both “irruptive” species–not normal wintertime residents– were not observed this year.

Many thanks to Jim Nelson whose submission to the Maryland Bird Club was adopted for this report.

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