Nokesville Christmas Bird Count

Together a team of nearly 30 volunteers recorded 81 species at the Nokesville Christmas Bird Count on December 26 2011 (species list below the fold). Previous counts ranged from 82 species in 2008 to 86 species in 2009.

Some species seen previous years were noticeably absent, including Red-breasted Nuthatches, Purple Finches, Horned Larks and Bobwhite. Sadly the Brewers Blackbirds, known to frequent a farm on Fleetwood, were nowhere in sight.

Highlights of the day include 12 bald eagles seen at the Prince William County landfill. The Bald Eagles were watching/hunting the 1000+ gulls, mostly ring-billed, foraging through uncovered trash. One Raven was also seen at the landfill, with 2 others at MCB Quantico and 2 in Fauquier County.

A Screech Owl was in Fauquier County along with Barred Owls, which were also seen at Merrimac Farm. Woodcock were seen at MCB Quantico and in Fauquier County. There were many Eastern Bluebirds, with an impressive flock of 50+ at the Rte 234 Wetland Mitigation Area.

Foggy Bottom Wetland was the only place Tree Sparrows were seen, for the 2nd year in a row. It was also produced the only sighting of Fox Sparrow.  Savannah Sparrows were spotted at Merrimac Farm and in Fauquier County. Merrimac Farm added Chipping Sparrow, Wild Turkey and Brown Thrasher to the list.

Now in its 112th year, the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the oldest and largest citizen science event in existence. The National Audubon Society leads the effort, compiles data nationwide and makes the results available to all on their website here.

All CBC Circles cover a 15-mile diameter circle (113,000 acres). The information collected by citizen scientists provides a snapshot showing what birds were found on one particular winter day over many years.

The Nokesville count circle, centered at Merrimac Farm WMA, covers a diverse landscape at the edge of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and captures the transition from coastal plain to piedmont ecosystems.

It extends from the Prince William County landfill on Route 234 to Nokesville Proper, and from the Lunga Reservoir near I-95 to Catlett in Fauquier County. The count circle includes portions of Prince William Forest Park, Manassas Airport and large areas within MCB Quantico.

Parks and conservation areas include Merrimac Farm, the Cedar Run Wetland Bank, Foggy Bottom Wetland Bank, Nokesville Park, Brentsville Courthouse, Bristoe Battlefield Park and Hellwig Park.

The count circle covers part of Prince William’s Rural Crescent, where 10-acre subdivisions, small farms and private ponds of all sizes are common. In Fauquier, birders survey small hamlets along Elk Run Road and near Bristersburg, as well as most of Catlett, and Calverton.

With 5 CBC circles in Northern Virginia, our area is well covered, see map here. Each count circle is led by someone who makes sure the count area is covered, compiles the survey results and submits data to the National Audubon Society.

Hundreds of people volunteer their time and expertise for this important survey every year, braving unpleasant weather conditions, to count birds. They do it because they love birds and know it benefits scientific research, including helping document the decline of wintering populations of American Black Duck, recovery of Bald Eagles and the increasing numbers of Hummingbirds beginning to overwinter in the U.S. and Canada.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make the Nokesville CBC a rewarding and memorable experience!

Nokesville CBC Team:

Sheryl Pollock, Judy Gallagher, Jenny Vick, Jean Miller, Kevin Parker, Alton Dick, Jake Hosen, Larry Kline, Vivienne Miller, Charles Smith ,Tom Attanaro, Nancy Vehrs, Kristin Sinclair, Larry Meade, Julia Flanagan, Elton Morel, Haley Vasethi, ,Bob Shipman, Nancy Shipman, Judy Kenyon, Phil Silas, Gary Myers, Tim Stamps, Kim Hosen, Jim Waggener, Rick Flaherty, Bob Blakney, Larry Underwood, Todd Day, Ernie Sears, Eli Hosen, Jim Gallagher, Elena Schlossberg, Joyce Andrew

12/26/11 Total Species – 81

Cackling Goose

Snow Goose

Canada Goose

Mute Swan

Tundra Swan

Wood Duck


Am. Black Duck


Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Ruddy Duck

Pied-billed Grebe

Great Blue Heron

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Am. Kestrel

Wild Turkey


Am. Woodcock

Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Blck-bckd Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove

E. Screech Owl

Barred Owl

Red-bell Woodpecker

Yellw-bell Sapsucker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Pileated Woodpecker

Blue Jay

Am. Crow

Fish Crow

Common Raven

Carolina Chickadee

Tufted Titmouse

White-br. Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Carolina Wren

Golden-Cr. Kinglet

Ruby-Cr. Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird

Hermit Thrush

Am. Robin

Northern Mockingbird

Brown Thrasher

Eur. Starling

Cedar Waxwing

Yellow-rumpd Warbler

Pine Warbler

Eastern Towhee

Am. Tree Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

White-thrtd. Sparrow

White-crwnd. Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

No. Cardinal

Red-winged Blackbird

Eastern Meadowlark

Rusty Blackbird

Brwn-headed Cowbird

House Finch

Am. Goldfinch

House Sparrw


1 comment so far

  1. Terry Reardon on

    Good work and a good article.

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