Loudoun County Atlasers,
With migratory season drawing to a close, breeding is the name of the game for June. Be aware of safe dates, but keep in mind that these dates are NOT nest dates. Safe dates only indicate that migration is over for that species in our area; several species start nesting long before safe dates.
1. International Migratory Bird Day was met with great enthusiasm throughout the county with 11 Loudoun Wildlife-sponsored bird walks and 6 bird-a-thon teams. Overall, 147 participants documented 145 species. Some of the walk highlights include: a nesting pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Blackburnian and Canada Warblers, and Lincoln’s Sparrow. The Banshee Reeks walk discovered a dead tree hosting active Tree Swallow, Bluebird, AND Carolina Chickadee nesting holes!
2. Highlights from the bird-a-thons include: Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Sora, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Barn and Screech Owls, Common Nighthawk, as well as Yellow-throated and Cerulean Warblers. A pair of Prothonatory Warblers was observed entering and exiting their nest hole at Algonkian Park.
3. Thanks to the ingenuity of an atlaser in the Waterford 5 block, visitors to Morven Park are now contributing data for the atlas through a bird sighting log in the visitor center.
1. Try to atlas once every 10-15 days during this peak of breeding.
2. If you document probable or confirmed breeding evidence for a species not thought to breed in Loudoun (no asterick behind the name on the field card) please submit an Atlas Verification Form as soon as possible and try to take a picture or have someone confirm the sighting. 3. After entering and saving your data online, check for any warning messages that need to be addressed before you hit the finalize button.
Tips (taken from the 2002-2006 Maryland/DC Breeding Bird Atlas)
1. Adults typically bring nesting material or food to the nest at a rate of 6-20 times per hour. If you find an adult foraging when it could have young, you often have to wait less than 5 minutes before it starts to carry food or nesting material.
2. Watch for repeated flights of a silent bird going to or from a particular spot. Many foraging adults use the same general route to and from the nest for an hour or more at a time. The route will change over time.
3. Learn the little chip notes of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Listen and follow the nest building female as she gathers spider webs and lichens from trees and other vegetation.
4. The Eastern Kingbird typically nests near the tops of trees along a pond or waterway, but recently has begun nesting on power line towers. The nests are located atop a cross-member, tucked against some intersecting vertical component, perhaps in a somewhat shaded corner. These aggressive birds make no attempt to conceal their comings and goings so nests are not hard to spot.
Looking for a place to atlas?
The following blocks are not assigned to anyone and haven’t had much (if any) coverage: Arcola 3, 5, and 6; Buckeystown 5; Charles Town 6; Harpers Ferry 6; Herndon 4; Middleburg 3 and 4; Round Hill 2, 5, and 6; Sterling 5; Waterford 4
65 atlasers have spent 2,660 hours in the field documenting 28,750 sightings. You have recorded 229 species, with 98 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 44 blocks and 3 blocks are considered “complete”. Please contact your regional coordinator or myself with any questions, concerns, or atlasing stories. You never know what interesting sightings you’ll find!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator