Christmas Bird Count
January 11, 2008
Several VCU Rice Center staff and student volunteers participated in the 108th Audubon Christmas Bird Count in December 2007. The primary objective of the Christmas Bird Count is to monitor the status and distribution of bird populations across the western hemisphere during the early winter.
More than 2,000 individual counts took place throughout the Americas and beyond from Dec. 14, 2007 to Jan. 5, 2008. The VCU team participated in the Hopewell Count on Dec. 16. The team broke into two groups. One group conducted an all day count at the Rice Center while the other group joined Cyrus Brame, USFWS, to survey Presquile National Wildlife Preserve, just upstream of the Rice Center.
The following is an excerpt from a report from Hopewell Count Coordinator Arun Bose.
“Despite challenging weather conditions, with rain at the beginning of the day and high winds toward the end, once again the Hopewell CBC reached a new high count for species recorded on count day –115. Two additional species were recorded during count week; Greater White-fronted Goose (2) and Lesser Black-backed Gull (1). A total of 53,421 individual birds were counted which is up from last year’s count of 33,843.”
Also two new species were added to the count – Willet and White-eyed Vireo. Both species were documented with written descriptions. The Willet was at the VCU Rice Center and the White-eyed Vireo at Westover Plantation; both in Charles City County.
Willet is described in Virginia’s Birdlife an Annotated Checklist as “... rare west of the Chesapeake Bay and the salt marshes along the lower reaches of the Bay’s tributaries ...” There is a single prior winter record of Willet in King William County on Jan. 31, 2004.
Other highlights of the day included 24 Red-headed Woodpeckers, 15 from the VCU Rice Center.
Kudo’s to Dr. Len Smock, Rice Center director, for observing and documenting the Willet!