Bird Atlas Tips December 2010
Hello Loudoun County Atlasers,
‘Tis the season for Christmas Bird Counts (and holiday cheer, too)! The 14th Annual Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be held on Wednesday, December 29th and the Calmes Neck Christmas Bird Count (covering far western Loudoun) will be held Sunday, January 2nd. These counts are a great way to collect data for the atlas (report those owls!) and contribute to a better understanding of bird populations and dynamics across the country. Please contact Joe Coleman (email@example.com) if you are interested in helping with either count. Remember to bring a few atlas field cards with you and report your group’s sightings for the appropriate atlas block(s). A rough map of the count circle overlaid onto the atlas grid is available upon request.
IMPORTANT ATLAS UPDATE
1. Effective immediately, please report all sightings from the Potomac River as regular sightings for the appropriate block. The Potomac River is no longer considered a Special Area for the atlas and no longer requires a separate field card and special data entry. This change will allow atlasers to use their time more efficiently when atlasing along the river. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
1. Rough-legged Hawk, Golden Eagle, Northern Goshawk, and Peregrine Falcon reported from the Snickers Gap Hawkwatch (Bluemont 1 block). Non-raptor highlights include Snow Goose, Brant, Black-capped Chickadee, Pine Siskin, and Purple Finch.
2. 5 Brewer’s Blackbirds observed in a smallish (100+) flock of blackbirds near Aldie (Lincoln 5 block).
3. Late Nashville Warbler (adult female) feeding in low azaleas in Leesburg 2 block.
4. Greater Yellowleg reported for Algonkian Park (Seneca 3 block).
5. Ruddy Duck reported for the Arcola 2 block.
Species of the Month – Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
This species is an irruption species which rarely shows up in our area. We’ve only had them on the Central Loudoun CBC once in the past 15 years. However, Black-capped Chickadees have been reported in and around Loudoun County this fall. How exciting! Use the following link as a guide on how to tell them apart from the very similar and much more common Carolina Chickadee: http://www.smbirdphotos.com/index.cgi?do=view_photos&subcatID=201. Most experts consider the white in the wing a poor indicator as feather wear can make the wings look whitish. It should only be used when combined with other features such as the messy bib.
Here are some interesting facts about the Black-capped Chickadee:
• Hides seeds and other food items to eat later. Each item is placed in a different spot – the chickadee can remember thousands of hiding places.
• Calls are complex and language-like. The more dee notes in a chickadee-dee-dee call, the higher the threat level.
• Dominance hierarchy exists within flocks. Some birds are “winter floaters” that don’t belong to a single flock—these individuals may have a different rank within each flock they spend time in.
• Virtually always sleep in their own individual cavities, even when temperatures are below zero.
• Small songbirds migrating through an unfamiliar area often associate with chickadee flocks. Watching and listening for chickadee flocks during spring and fall can often alert you to the presence of interesting migrants.
Information taken from: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. All About Birds. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Blackcapped_Chickadee/lifehistory
56 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 2,125 hours in the field documenting 23,516 sightings. You have recorded 225 species, with 97 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 38 blocks.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Years,
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator