Bird point counts at the Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area (5-25-14)

By Doug Gilbert, not Hannah haha

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: A point count is a type of bird survey which involves standing in one location for ten minutes and recording all the birds you hear and see; it often includes trying to determine how far away the bird is that your heard and/or saw, and how many times each bird sang during that ten minute period.  Point counts are usually conducted in the spring and early summer in order to determine what species are breeding in a particular area.

On Sunday, May 25th, I met up with three fellow birders to conduct the annual point counts for the SHWMA.     We at 6am and did not finish until around 11am.  We conducted point counts at 10 locations within the SHWMA, and found a diverse group of species–the species list can be seen at the end of this post.  Some notable species included both of the cuckoo species (yellow-billed and black-billed; sometimes called “rain crows” because people tend to hear them before it rains) that occur in West Virginia, a single cerulean warbler, and a migrating blackpoll warbler (Google the pictures of these four species, you won’t be disappointed).  One saddening piece of news, though, is that we did not hear the Acadian flycatchers, which, according to our veteran point counter, have been there for the past 11 years.  Acadian flycatchers are a species that are known to like large, intact forests and are known to be impacted by the fragmentation and disturbance of these forests.  Hopefully, they will return in the future.

Overall, we had a great time being out at the SHWMA and having the opportunity to contribute to the conservation of our area’s birds.

Black-throated green warbler (Setophaga virens), photo by Hannah Spencer


List of birds detected at the SHWMA on 5-25-14
Broad-winged Hawk
Wild Turkey
Black-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Chimney Swift
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Song Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch