The 37th Annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count on December 16, 2018 had 115 hardy birders doing their best to count 13,562 birds. The species count of 78 is a few below average and a great accomplishment considering the wet, muddy, drizzly, flooded conditions. It was not as rainy as the day prior when three inches fell! The average number of birds observed over the past 10 years is over 21,000, so this year was about 33% below that and far below last year's record high of over 33,000 in far more favorable conditions.
Highlights included all-time highs of White-throated Sparrows, and Brown Thrasher, while Blue Jay, White-crowned Sparrow, and Red-breasted Nuthatch were way above average. Also, all 7 of our potential wintering woodpecker species were observed, and the Northern Shrike was seen and photographed in the Sully area, where it has chosen to winter for the third consecutive winter. Other interesting species included 3 owls (Eastern Screech, Horned, and Barred) and 2 of our local falcons (American Kestrel and Merlin), as well as 9 sparrow species, which included Swamp, Fox, and Chipping.
It isn't surprising that several species were at all-time lows, including: Sharp-shinned Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Carolina Chickadee, and Yellow-rumped Warbler (just 3!). Two other species that were close to all-time lows were Tufted Titmouse and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Bald Eagle sightings counted only 8, which is well below the past 10 year average of just under 18.
Extra special thanks to Carol Hadlock for 20 years as leader of Sector 1. She has decided it’s time to “retire” from leadership but definitely not from participation in this Christmas Bird Count. Thanks for the support of all the route leaders and especially the rest of the sector leaders: Greg Butcher, Dixie Sommers, Toby Hardwick, and Carolyn Williams.
Copies of the full results for the count are available on the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) website by clicking here or from the compiler, Phil Silas. We gratefully thank all the enthusiastic birders both new and returning; we hope y'all had a good time and will be back for next year’s count, which will be on Sunday, December 15, 2019.