WASHINGTON — Some bodies array up to airing the dog or go for a run in freezing weather.
But beyond the D.C. region, bags adventurous frigid temperatures for a adventitious to account all the birds they can acquisition during a 24-hour period. The convenance is allotment of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, a attitude that stretches aback to 1901.
Janet Millenson of Potomac, tallied the abstracts taken by the Sugarloaf Mountain count. Her aggregation was out on Sunday, the coldest December day aback 1989.
In a accomplishment of understatement, Millenson said the day was “unpleasantly cold” and joked that teams of birdwatchers who advance out over a 15-mile bore avenue were still thawing out.
“I absolutely feel guilty; I feel as the compiler of the abstracts I care to align nice weather,” she said.
The types of birds spotted can announce what’s activity on in the ambiance due to abode loss, altitude change or akin outbreaks of things such as West Nile virus, according to Millenson.
“When West Nile virus hit some years ago, that fabricated a big appulse on crows and abate birds like chickadees,” she said. “I’m a little anxious about such accepted breed as mockingbirds and cardinals — the numbers aren’t what they acclimated to be.”
There are absolute signs, too.
“Bluebirds and eagles accept appear aback appreciably able-bodied about here,” MIllenson said.
During Sunday’s outing, the Sugarloaf calculation spotted two abbreviate eared owls. While aloof a brace of owls ability not assume like big news, MIllenson explained, “That bird was aftermost apparent on this calculation 27 years ago.”
Other birds of note: a brace of amber thrashers. They’re ancestors of the mockingbird.
“We’ve alone had those alert in the aftermost decade,” Millenson said.
During the Audubon Chirstmas Count, which started in mid-December and continues through Jan. 5, added accomplished birders are commutual with beginners. Millenson said that helps novices and veterans alike.
Millenson was commutual with a woman who spotted several “life birds,” birds the woman had never apparent before.
“You apperceive her joy fabricated seeing some of these birds added special,” Millenson said.
A cardinal of participants hoped to atom Snowy Owls. The birds sometimes alluvion bottomward to the breadth during what are alleged “irruptions.”
Millenson said she doesn’t accept any letters of sightings of the characteristic white raptors and joked, “We ample that is one breed that would accept enjoyed the acclimate we had on Sunday.”
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