From left: Outside of Nature House in Reston, bird counters Joanne Bower of Reston; Barbara Ehst, Avery Ehst, 7, and Mike Ehst of Arlington; Jay Hadlock of Herndon; and David Bower look toward the treetops searching to sight the group's first feathered friend to tally in the 2020 Reston Association Winter Bird Count held Saturday, Jan. 4.
Photo by Mercia Hobson.
While most people enjoyed the first Saturday morning of the New Year sleeping in or slowly sipping a cup of coffee, dedicated bird enthusiasts got up well before dawn to participate in the first of Reston Association's two yearly bird counts. The annual tallying of population and species by observers helps the Association monitor the success of its community in supporting a variety of wildlife.
"The counts … give people the opportunity to see the diversity of avian species that call Reston home, and why preserving habitat is so important for the health of all our residents - human and bird alike," said Abby Stocking, Naturalist at Reston Association Walker Nature Center. According to Audubon.org, bird observations can also be used to look for trends such as increasing or decreasing numbers of a given species and whether species' ranges shift, expand or contract under increased global temperatures.
Volunteer birders of all levels and ages met inside Nature House before sunrise Jan. 4. Assembled in groups, each with a designated leader, they headed out to multiple sectors across Reston to create a real-time snapshot of bird species and numbers. One sector group led by Joanne Bower and her husband David stuck close to the woods, lakes and paths surrounding Nature House. Lisa Mackem of Reston; the Ehst family of Arlington, Dad Mike, Avery, 7, and Grandma Barbara; along with Jay Hadlock of Herndon, joined the Bowers.
Heading down the path, Joanne Bower softly said, "Counting in the winter gives us a population. The summer count is a breeding survey. A lot of us count the birds by hearing; that is one way to locate them.” Bower looked over at Avery and said, "We depend on sharp young eyes too."
"I love birds," said Avery. "They're my favorite animals." Birding by ear, Bower identified a singer. "That's a Carolina Wren,” she said.
By 7:25 a.m. and not done yet, the seven hardy Nature House birders had counted 15 birds with a species count of 6. Initial Tally: 1 Fish Crow, 4 Carolina Wren, 2 Titmouse, 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker, 1 Mourning Dove, 6 American Crows. The complete 2020 Reston Association Winter Bird Count by all sectors was not available by press time. Visit www.reston.org for updates.