A milder winter up north has resulted in fewer birds migrating to Northern Virginia, according to Kevin Walter, natural resource specialist with the Directorate of Public Works, who coordinated this year’s 121st Christmas Bird Count.

“Birds weren’t very active, which is surprising given the amount of rain we had yesterday. Waterfowl activity is low, as they’ve not begun migrating yet,” said Walter.

Due to the pandemic, Walter decided to minimize the use of public participation in Saturday’s census.

“We had 18 volunteers this year. We only invited those that participated last year,” Walter said. “We were actually able to cover all the areas sufficiently with this team, as we made sure we had experts to cover all the areas.”

From December 14 through January 5 each year tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas brave snow, wind, or rain, and take part in the effort, according to the Audubon Society. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this long-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action.

Belvoir is part of the 25-mile Fort Belvoir Christmas Bird Count circle, which also includes Huntley Meadows; Fort Hunt; Mount Vernon; Pohick Regional Park; Mason Neck; Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge; Leesylvania State Park; Burke Lake; Lake Accotink and other surrounding areas.

If you are interested in helping, anyone can participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count, a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds during the weekend of Feb. 12 – 15, for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org.