2012 Christmas Bird Count Summary

The 31st Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count was conducted on December 16, 2012.   The entire day was very heavily overcast and threatening; most participants were thankful to complete their counts without getting wet.  A total of 108 people participated, counting 86 species and 21,967 birds.   The overall results were very good, especially considering the poor lighting conditions.  Our total bird count number was in line with the experience of our previous two years and more than 15% higher than our past 15 year average.  Our species count was just one below our all time high and 10% higher than the average species count for the same past 15 year period.  The 108 birders are the most we have had since 2002. 


Among the interesting finds this year was the first time ever sighting of White-winged Crossbills (irruptive this year) by the team of Allen Hart, Cindy Foster and Richard Fain.  Last year we had our count circle’s first time ever sighting of a Lesser Yellowlegs; this year we saw another one. We had (relatively) high numbers of such interesting birds as Northern Bobwhite (first since 2002), Red-headed Woodpecker, Common Raven, Pine Warbler (first since 2006), Eastern Meadowlark, Pine Siskin (irruptive this year, first since 2008), and Evening Grosbeaks (first since 1997).  Additionally, we had 18 all-time high species numbers (Green-winged Teal, Wild Turkey, Bald Eagle, Barred Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue Jay, Fish Crow, Red-breasted Nuthatch (also irruptive this year), White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, and Rusty Blackbird).   We cannot discount good fortune in these findings and we acknowledge the (slightly) increased number of counters; however, most of the credit goes to the care and diligence of our counters who did a really good job of finding and identifying birds.


In terms of species trends, Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse are near or beyond the upper end of our historic numbers for them.  Woodpeckers overall are doing well, as are Northern Cardinals.  Bluebirds seem to have rebounded from the harsh snows of two winters ago to all time highs this year.  American Kestrel and Merlin are hanging on with a few of each species reported each year.


Copies of the full results for the count are available here from this website, from the ASNV office, any of our sector leaders, or the compiler, Bob Shipman. 


We gratefully thank all the enthusiastic birders who came out this year and counted so well!