The 119th CBC in West Virginia

West Virginia has 20 circles with center points within the state.  With fifty percent of our counts running continuously for over 45 years, WV continues its long history with Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.

This report only includes data from those circles with center points located within West Virginia.

Nine of our counts were held on the first weekend of the CBC season, nine were completed between Dec. 18th – 30th, and two were conducted in January.  Four counts were held on weekdays.


Seasonal Weather Report:


Temperature Lows: Only five counts began below freezing, the Athens-Princeton CBC had the coldest morning at 19 degrees.  Starting the morning much warmer were Charleston 48, Morgantown 46, Ona 45, and Lewisburg at 43 degrees.  The McDowell County count averaged the coldest in WV this season, with a temperature range of 28 to 35 degrees.


Temperature Highs:  Ten counts reached 50 degrees or higher, with Charleston peaking at 59 degrees. Charleston’s December 18th count was the warmest recorded in WV this season, with a 48-degree low and a 59-degree high.


There were no reports of snow on the ground or falling during count days.  Eleven counts did report light rain at some point, while Canaan and Charles Town noted heavy rain at times


Effort Report:


Participation:  The Inwood count had the highest participation with 32 field birders.  Two counts had 29 in the field and three other counts had more than 21 participants.  Seven counts had 10 or under.


Hours:  Seven counts had over 60 party hours:  Hampshire County 90.75, Canaan 86.75, Inwood 74.5, Pendleton County 63.5, Morgantown 63, Huntington 60.75 and Charles Town 60.  Six other counts reported between 39 - 56 party hours on their count day.


Miles:  Inwood led the way with 496.5 party miles, followed by Charles Town 365.75, then Ona with 352.5 miles.  Ten other counts had between 242 - 328 miles reported.


Feeder Watching:  Fifteen counts had participants watching their feeders/yards.  The Pendleton count had the highest participation with 14 feeder watchers, Charlestown with six, while Pocahontas County, Parkersburg and Elkins all had five helping.


Nocturnal Birding:  Fourteen counts had owling teams.  Four counts reported over four hours of owling.  Ona led the way with nine hours, Morgantown eight, Huntington seven and three-quarters, and Inwood at four and one-half hours.  Four of those counts covered over 30 miles owling.  Ona, with 70.5 miles, covered the most ground.


WV State Effort Totals:  By car: 4985.75 miles in 576.75 hours.     By foot: 328.75 miles in 382.25 hours.  



Bird Reports:

One hundred eleven species were found in West Virginia on count day(s), no additional count week (cw) species were added during the 119th CBC season.  The following is a synopsis of the species reported.


The avian groups in this report are listed in the order that reflects the 119th National Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count seasonal checklist, and does not reflect the current American Ornithological Society (AOS) checklist.  Most species within the groups are in order of abundance.

Note: Only Count Day data are listed below unless otherwise noted.


Geese/Swans:  Canada Geese (6931) were the third most abundant species this count season, found on 19 counts.  Rarer, one Cackling Goose was reported on the Inwood count.


Sixteen species of ducks were reported this count season.


Dabblers:  Mallards (2306) were the most numerous duck species and the eighth most abundant state species, found on all 20 counts.  American Black Ducks (87) were seen on ten counts.  Other dabblers found included; Gadwall (14), Wood Duck (10), and Green-winged Teal (9).  Rarer this season were the two American Wigeon found on the Inwood CBC, and the single Northern Pintail located on the Charles Town count.


Diving Ducks:  The Common Mergansers (323), found on 11 counts, were the most abundant diver. Thirteen counts reported Hooded Mergansers (116).  The second most numerous diving duck, found only on seven counts was Bufflehead (179), with Morgantown having the high count of 93.  Three counts tallied Lesser Scaup (22), Ona-17, Charleston-6, and Pendleton-cw.  Four counts posted Ring-necked Duck (20), Charleston-10, Pipestem-8, Morgantown-2, and Pendleton-cw.  Three counts reported Ruddy Duck (12), Morgantown-7, Wheeling-3, and Charleston-2.  Rarer this season was the lone Canvasback, Parkersburg; a single Greater Scaup, Pocahontas; and the one Common Goldeneye, Morgantown.


Game Birds:  Seventeen counts saw Wild Turkey (511), the highest numbers reported came in from Charles Town-141, Morgantown-93, and Ona-92 counts.  Only six Ruffed Grouse were reported, Canaan had three while Morgantown, Pendleton, and Pocahontas posted only single birds.


Loons/Grebes:  The Pipestem Area posted the only Common Loons (4) in the state last season.  Pied-billed Grebes (12) were on five counts, Oak Hill with five birds, the highest.   Single Horned Grebe reports came in from Morgantown and Ona.


Cormorant/Heron:  Double-crested Cormorants (8) were reported on four circles, Huntington-3, Pipestem and Wheeling-2, and Morgantown-1.  Great Blue Herons (82) were found on 16 counts, Hampshire’s 14 the highest reported.  Rarer, a lone Great Egret was found on the Pocahontas count.


Vultures:   Turkey Vultures (1790) were prevalent on 19 counts, Lewisburg had 390 of them, the state’s high count.  Black Vultures (864) noted on 18 counts, continue their widespread distribution.  Lewisburg, reporting an impressive 463 BLVU, the highest tallied in the state, a distant second was the 90 reported on the Pendleton count.


Eagles/Hawks:  The Golden Eagles (5) reported this season came in from the Pendleton-4 and the Pocahontas-1 counts.  Northern Harriers (16) were located on eight CBCs with Inwood’s six the highest reported.  Cooper’s Hawks (44) found on 17 counts, outnumbered the Sharp-shinned Hawks (16) located on eight counts.  Sixteen counts posted Bald Eagles (93), four of those CBCs had impressive eagle numbers, Hampshire-22, Pipestem-16, Pendleton-11, and the Moorefield count with 10 eagles.


Only two Buteo species were reported this season.  Red-tailed Hawks (283) were found on all 20 counts, with high counts from Inwood-52, Hampshire-46, and Pendleton-30.  Seventeen counts reported Red-shouldered Hawk (159), high tallies were noted on the Charles Town-31 count while both the Huntington and Inwood counts reported 21 RSHA.


Shorebirds:  Four counts posted Killdeer (38), with Huntington reporting 29.  The Pendleton count discovered a Wilson’s Snipe and a Spotted Sandpiper, the only other shorebirds found this season.


Gulls:  Ring-billed Gull (78) was the only gull species found last season.  Wheeling reported all but the one found on the Parkersburg count.  The Pipestem Area count did report RBGU during count week.


Owls:  The most abundant owl reported was Eastern Screech-Owl (41), with Inwood having the high count of 13.  The Inwood count also reported seven of the Great Horned Owls (17).  Twelve counts reported Barred Owls (12) this season.  The three Northern Saw-whet Owls reports came in from Canaan-1 and Morgantown-2.  Two rarer owls were reported, Moorefield’s Barn Owl and Morgantown’s Long-eared Owl.


Woodpeckers:  Common on all counts were Red-bellied Woodpecker (657), Downy Woodpecker (657), Northern Flicker (348), and Pileated Woodpecker (249).  Eighteen counts tallied Hairy Woodpecker (125), while 15 circles saw or heard Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers (86).  Always a good find, nine Red-headed Woodpeckers were reported on five counts, two other counts reported them as cw birds.


Falcons:  American Kestrels (144) were sighted on 19 counts.  Merlins (7) were tallied on five counts, Charleston reporting three while Elkins, Inwood, Morgantown and the Pipestem Area counts all had single birds.  Four counts noted Peregrine Falcons (7); Charleston-3, Huntington-2, and both the Athens-Princeton Area and Oak Hill counts posting one each, plus Parkersburg reported PEFA during cw.  


Flycatchers:  Eastern Phoebes (27) were tallied this season on 14 counts.


Vireos:   A single White-eyed Vireo was found on the Morgantown CBC again this season, a rare find on a WV CBC.


Crows/Ravens:  The Charleston, Raleigh County, and Wheeling CBC circles all have large crow roosts that normally reflect the substantial number of crows/birds reported each count season in WV.  This season, a significant number of the crows that typically roost in the Wheeling circle apparently relocated, still American Crow (29,245), was the top species recorded in WV.  Fifteen counts tallied Common Raven (216), with the Hampshire-49 and Pendleton-40 counts both reporting high numbers.  


Thrushes/Mimids:  All 20 counts tallied Eastern Bluebirds (1031) making it the states 17th most prevalent species with high numbers reported from Huntington-134 and Hampshire County-122.  Hermit Thrushes (58) were located on 15 counts, Huntington tallied an impressive 17, the highest count tally.  Most counts reported seeing American Robins (939) in low numbers.  Elkins and Morgantown each located single Catbirds and both Canaan and Huntington recorded a Brown Thrasher.


Warblers:  Three warbler species were spotted this season.  Yellow-rumped Warblers (129), the most typical, were recorded in 12 circles, while only three Palm Warblers were found, Charleston-2 and Hampshire County-1.  Rarer still, a lone Pine Warbler was recorded on the Pendleton CBC.


Sparrows:  Thirteen species of sparrows were found this season.  Three sparrow species made the top 20 state list, Dark-eyed Juncos (3440) the fifth, White-throated Sparrow (1948) the tenth, and Song Sparrow (1601) the twelfth most reported species.  Hampshire County reported very impressive numbers of DEJU-835, WTSP-372 and SOSP-181, high counts for all three species.  Fox Sparrows (18) were located on seven counts, with Ona reporting six, the highest.  Rarer were the two Vesper Sparrows, two Savannah Sparrows, and the single Lincoln’s Sparrow found on the Morgantown count.


Blackbirds:  Red-winged Blackbirds (430) were on six counts, Inwood tallied all but seven.  Six counts noted Brown-headed Cowbirds (348), Charles Town (213) with the most.  Eight counts had Common Grackles (198), Inwood posted a high count of 177.  Four counts reported finding Eastern Meadowlarks (58), Hampshire County located 38 of those.  Rarer were the 17 Rusty Blackbirds that were tallied this season from only the Charles Town count.


Finches:  The fifteenth most reported species, American Goldfinch (1174), was located on all counts, Pendleton County’s-251 AMGO tally, was the highest by far.  Pine Siskins (34) were noted on five counts, the highest tallies came in from Pendleton County-15 and Charles Town-10.  Rarer were the 36 Evening Grosbeaks found, Canaan-33 and Pocahontas County-3. 


Other noteworthy birds:  Fourteen counts found Red-breasted Nuthatches (178), Ona-44 with the greatest abundance.  Ruby-crowned Kinglets (16) were tallied on nine counts.  A very special, rare WV Christmas Bird Count find, the male Painted Bunting found on the Charles Town count!



Top 21 species found in West Virginia during the 119th CBC season.


Last Year’s (118th CBC) totals noted in parenthesis  


  1. American Crow – 29,245 – (75,851)
  2. European Starling – 16,699 – (21,953)
  3. Canada Goose – 6931 – (8864)
  4. Rock Pigeon – 4552 – (4065)
  5. Dark-eyed Junco – 3440 – (4019)
  6. Mourning Dove – 3074 – (2453)
  7. Northern Cardinal – 2393 – (2059)
  8. Mallard – 2306 – (3529)
  9. House Sparrow – 2175 – (2154)
  10. Blue Jay – 1948 – (2210)
  11. Wt.-throated Sparrow – 1948 – (1478)
  12. Turkey Vulture – 1790 – (1133)
  13. Song Sparrow – 1606 – (1364)
  14. Carolina Wren – 1341 – (1099)
  15. Tufted Titmouse – 1254 – (1629)
  16. American Goldfinch – 1174 – (1603)
  17. Carolina Chickadee – 1079 – (1247)
  18. Eastern Bluebird – 1031 – (1317)
  19. American Robin – 939 – (12,170)
  20. Black Vulture – 864 – (875)
  21. White-breasted Nuthatch – 789 – (929)

Like so many other areas, we have CBC circles that could use a lot more participants.  Participation is the key to getting good results.  With so many acres to cover and only around ten hours of daylight to accomplish it, we need more teams in the field to cover as much of each circle as possible.

We have so many excellent birders here in WV, some of who have never been on a CBC, so please get the word out about the CBC to those birders, especially those who love to list, post and ebird, we could sure use their help!  If you’re a long time CBC participant, thank you!   

For more information on West Virginia’s Christmas Bird Counts and complete seasonal CBC data, go to the Brooks Bird Club website   

Learn where all the West Virginia circles are located, compiler contact information, and the count dates (when posted) for all 20 WV counts.

This is my third year as the West Virginia State Editor and I would like to thank all the WV state compilers for their dedication and all their hard work.  Without these compilers and their participants our state would not have been so well represented in this 119th winter bird survey.

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