Sunday, March 16, 2003

Common Late-Winter Birds of West Virginia

What species of birds is the average West Virginia most likely to encounter on an average day in late winter? What species can he or she expect to find in greatest numbers? The logical place to find the answer to those questions is in the data submitted by volunteer observers during the Great Backyard Bird Count sponsored annually by the National Audubon Society during the third weekend in Feburary. Here, I summarize West Virginia data for the past five years (1998-2002):

The Top-Ten Most Frequently Encountered Species

1. Northern Cardinal (reported 918 times)
2. Mourning Dove (882)
3. Tufted Titmouse (854)
4. Downy Woodpecker (737)
5. Dark-eyed Junco (729)
6. American Goldfinch (726)
7. White-breasted Nuthatch (684)
8. Blue Jay (642)
9. House Finch (576)
10. American Crow (555)

Honorable-mention recognition goes to the second tier of ten species (listed in declining frequency of occurrence, from 537 to 253): Red-bellied Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Song Sparrow, European Starling, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, American Robin, White-throated Sparrow, and Hairy Woodpecker.

The Top-Ten Most Abundance Species

1. American Goldfinch (9916 birds counted)
2. European Starling (8565)
3. Mourning Dove (6229)
4. Dark-eyed Junco (6112)
5. Northern Cardinal (5643)
6. American Crow (4793)
7. Canada Goose (4567)
8. House Finch (4362)
9. American Robin (4096)
10. House Sparrow (3346)

Honorable-mention recognition goes to the second tier of ten species (listed in decreasing order of abundance, from 2772 to 1366): Tufted Titmouse, Common Grackle, Blue Jay, Rock Dove, Black-capped Chickadee, White-throated Sparrow, Carolina Chickadee,
Downy Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Mallard and Song Sparrow (tie).

Top-Ten Most Ubiquitous Species (found by adding together the frequency and abundance ranks):

1. Mourning Dove (combined rank of 5)
2. Northern Cardinal (6)
3. American Goldfinch (7)
4. Dark-eyed Junco (9)
5. Tufted Titmouse (14)
6. (tie) American Crow and European Starling (16)
7. House Finch (17)
8. Blue Jay (21)
9. Downy Woodpecker (22)
10. (tie) American Robin and White-breasted Nuthatch (26)

These species would probably rank among the most ubiquitous species in most States east of the Mississippi River.

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