Hello Loudoun County Atlasers,
October was a big month for the atlas – we added 2 new species to our list! Three American Avocets were observed landing on a pond at Trump National Golf Course and a Red Phalarope was also reported for this Seneca 3 block. Exciting finds like these are one of the many reasons we are conducting the atlas!
Other October Highlights
1. Small flock of Rusty Blackbirds observed in the Seneca 3 block.
2. American Pipit, Merlin, and Bay-breasted Warbler reported for the Arcola 2 block. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was heard and observed in this block in mid-September (around Beaverdam Reservoir).
3. Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs reported for Algonkian Park, along with a Winter Wren.
4. Swainson’s Thrush, Tennessee and Nashville Warblers, and Lincoln’s Sparrow reported for Bles Park.
5. Golden Eagle reported at Snickers Gap Hawkwatch along the Loudoun-Clarke County line.
Reminders and Tips
1. The Birds of Loudoun County checklist (attached) can be used as a quick reference to determine the seasonal occurrence, relative abundance, and breeding status of birds in the county.
2. Continue to be on the lookout for lingering migrants, including raptors, unusual hummingbirds, and out-of-area western flycatchers. A lot of interesting observations are still possible so be sure to atlas your block at least once a month.
3. Familiarize yourself with parts of your block you haven’t had time to atlas yet. Determine who you need to get permissions from. If your block is nearing completion, consider taking on another block.
4. Submit any outstanding Atlas Verification Forms (an electronic version of the form can be downloaded from the atlas website).
Species of the Month – Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)
• Winters in swamps, wet woodlands, and pond edges (breeds in swampy wooded areas of Canada and Alaska).
• Feeds mostly on insects and plant matter, but sometimes attacks and eats other birds. It has been documented feeding on sparrows, robins, and snipe.
• Song has been compared to the grating of a rusty hinge.
• Similar in appearance to the Common Grackle, but the Common Grackle is larger, has a larger and thicker bill, and a longer, wedge-shaped tail.
• Population has significantly declined in the past 40 years (dropped 85%-98% according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count).
•Low densities and remote breeding habitat make clear determination of trends difficult. Listed on the Audubon Watchlist as Vulnerable.
•A Species of Special Interest for the Atlas so if you observe or hear this species be sure to submit an Atlas Verification Form.
References Avery. M. L. 1995. Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus). In The Birds of North America, No. 200 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.
56 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 2,022 hours in the field documenting 22,631 sightings. You have recorded 221 species, with 97 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 38 blocks.
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator