By Mountaineer Audubon
February 3, 2017
The Morgantown Area Christmas Bird Count was held on Saturday, December 17, 2016. The morning started out as a disaster. The birders were ready to go, but freezing rain made the start too treacherous to travel. Trying to reschedule during Christmas season had not worked in the past. Coordinator, LeJay Graffious, tells folks to use their best judgment. Several decided to cancel. Many were committed to “git r done.” By 9:00 the ice was mostly gone, the counters got to work in earnest. One birder, Derek Courtney, had been already in the field for nine hours. He hiked to the Coopers Rock Overlook area to find the first bird, Northern Saw-whet Owl, of the day at the strike of mid-night.
For the first time in the history of the Mountaineer Audubon Christmas Bird Count (WVMO), participants identified 100 species of birds during count week and a record 91 species on count day. Twenty-sevem birders contributed to the data. Thanks to William Johnson who reported the 100th bird, a Brown-headed Cowbird at his feeders during count week. The cowbird is usually found on count day but eluded the counters. Thanks to Bill alert eye, he found one visiting his feeders and reported it. The ninety-ninth bird was a Ruffed Grouse that LeJay with his setters found on Snake Hill Wildlife Management area during the last hour of daylight on the last day of count week. Two new species for the count this year were shorebirds. Derek Courtney found a Greater Yellowlegs at White Park. LeJay Graffious spied a Spotted Sandpiper on a mud bar on the Monongahela River by the sewage processing plant.
Another highlight of our WVMO count week was a “fall out” of waterfowl on the first day, Wednesday, December 14. Thanks goes to Mike Slaven, for alerting area birders about this event. Terry Bronson, an avid area birder reported, “it turned out to be a record WV day for me.”
Terry reported the day’s count on eBird and on WV Bird listserv by saying, “Most of the totals below are rough estimates. The huge rafts of distant ducks, with almost all the females looking the same, made it very difficult to count and to assign to species. I did my best.
The grand totals include 50 geese, 12 swans, 12,034 ducks, 1 loon, 26 grebes, 1 eagle, 10 coots, and 286 gulls. According to eBird, these include a new state record for Northern Shovelers and a tie with the previous state record for Redheads.”
Christmas Bird Count data has been critical to understanding how birds move in response to climate change. Tufted titmice are expanding northward and boat-tailed grackles are moving west, just two of the 314 species whose range Audubon predicts to shift by 2080. More than a third of species that spend their winters in the United States are declining, mainly from loss of habitat, including the Northern bobwhite, American kestrel and Meadowlarks. There are some bright spots in our area: bald eagles and wintering waterfowl have responded to intense conservation efforts to clean our waters and have rebounded from their midcentury depths.
Count Coordinator, LeJay Graffious, wishes to thanks all who contributed field counts and feeder counts. Also, kudos go to the sector leaders who manage the count and participant data. Participants (*-sector coordinators) were John Boback, Brian Brannon, Terry Bronson, Sandy Clark, Crisa Cooey, Derek Courtney*, Jesse Fallon, Cathryn Frere, Nick Goodman, LeJay Graffious*, Caden Haines, Bill Johnson, Hillar Klandorf*, Christopher Lituma, Bob Lueckel, Tommy Lueckel, Robert Marinelli, Twyla Meding, Lee Miller, P J Murray, Nancy Nelson, Lori Pertrauski, Todd Schnopp*, Larry Schwab, Evan Tanner and Elizabeth Wright. For complete report, go to mountaineeraudubon.org to find links to data. Mark your calendar to join the next CBC for Saturday, December 16, 2017. Hope to see you then to help break another record.
To see a detailed list on species by sector and feeder counts, go to http://oldhemlock.org/CBC/WVMO_FieldForm.pdf .
Note: Day started at 36F and overcast, changed to freezing rain which ended at 9:00 am, then the temperature rose to 63F at 8:00PM. About half of the participants opted out due to the morning road conditions. The field form reports results and will change when all data has been recieved.
At end of the field on count day, participants and interested friends joined together at the compilation dinner at Tazik Café in the Suncrest Towne Centre. Today was the highest species count in the history of the WVMO Count at 91 species plus an additional 9 count week birds. The count week ended on Tuesday, December 20, 2016
To participate, contact LeJay Graffious at email@example.com.
The Mountaineer Chapter of National Aububon’s Christmas Bird Count will be held on Saturday, December 17, 2016. The 15 mile diameter count circle will be divided into areas with a leader assigned to each. The team leader will coordinate the bird count within each area with the team members.
- Link to the WVMO Count Circle with team sectors identified
- Link to the Teams with leaders, start times, meeting locations.
- Link to Field Form – Bird Checklist for Morgantown Area
- There are no fees for participating. The event is open to everyone, not just Audubon members. Beginners and expert birders are welcome.
- Also, report any usually birds seen during count week beginning of Wednesday, December 14 through mid-night Tuesday, December 20 to coordinator. I will try to keep the Checklist link above up-to-date with birds which have been seen. Report any not recorded to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Feeder Counts within the count area are welcome, too, for Saturday, December 17. Email your feeder counts to email@example.com.
- Link to National Audubon Society CBC
- Link to National Audubon Count Circles
- RARE Bird Report needs submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org for any bird not on the checklist above.
Adobe Reader File download: Rare Bird Form [PDF]
Word File download: Rare Bird Frm [DOC]
LeJay Graffious, Coordinator