Hi Loudoun County Atlasers,
As we head into 2010, I can’t help but wonder what interesting sightings the new year will bring. The atlas highlights from December include a Long-eared Owl (private property, Leesburg 5 block) as well as a Ruddy Duck and Common Merganser on the Potomac River (Seneca 3 block). Keep up the great work!
1. Our atlas is a year-round project. Be sure to atlas your block at least once each month and enter your fall/winter data in the online atlas database.
2. Familiarize yourself with parts of your block you haven’t had time to atlas yet. Determine who you need to get permissions from.
3. If you feel your block has been adequately covered, consider identifying a new block to atlas.
Species of the Month – Great Horned Owl
• The Great Horned Owl is now within safe dates (12/15- 8/31). This owl loves old Red-tail’s nests so be on the lookout for old hawk nests. Tops of large stumps are also favored. The woodlot for nesting may be small and isolated from other woods.
• This owl will take large prey, even other raptorial birds. It regularly kills and eats other owls, and is an important predator on nestling Ospreys.
• Even though the female Great Horned Owl is larger than her mate, the male has a deeper voice. Pairs often call together, with audible differences in pitch.
Information taken from Jay Sheppard of the Maryland/DC Breeding Bird Atlas and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Horned_Owl/id).
36 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 1,107 hours in the field documenting 12,070 sightings. You have recorded 185 species, with 91 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 28 blocks.
An atlas training session will be held in late February/early March for all new atlasers and people interested in helping with the project. A date and time will be announced in next month’s email. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator