Loudoun County Atlasers,
June proved to be quite a spectacular month for atlasing! While there were several highlights, the most exciting find was a family of Hooded Mergansers at the Dulles Wetlands, a species not previously thought to breed in Loudoun. When the VSO Gold Book was published there were only four records of nesting Hooded Mergansers in the Piedmont so this is a really nice addition to the atlas.
Thanks everyone for your time and dedication to the atlas. Your sightings, both the rare and the common, are helping to generate important information about the bird species in Loudoun, allowing Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy to identify and protect important bird areas throughout the county.
1. Two very fortunate groups of atlasers were treated to great looks at a juvenile Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in the Poolesville 3 block. This is only the second sighting of this species in Loudoun (the first sighting was in Middleburg in May 1984).
2. A family of Eastern Screech Owls, singing Dickcissels, Grasshopper Sparrows performing distraction displays, nesting Turkey Vultures, and 3 immature Bald Eagles were just a few of the highlights from the future White’s Ford Park (not open to the public yet).
3. Cerulean and Kentucky Warblers reported from the Blue Ridge Center.
4. Alder Flycatcher, a Species of Special Interest, heard frequently calling at Bles Park in mid-May (I forgot to include this in last month’s highlights).
Tips (tips taken from the 2002-2006 Maryland/DC Breeding Bird Atlas)
1. Listen for unfamiliar calls—especially if they sound like those of baby birds—and track them down. Even if you don’t find the young, the adults usually give themselves away with alarm calls or distraction behavior. The calls of fledglings are just as distinctive to species as those of adults and can be learned with practice. 2. Now is a good time to look for breeding in Goldfinches, Indigo Buntings, and other late nesters.
3. Look for patches of habitat that are not common throughout a block. Survey these patches extra well. Ask landowners for permission to access such unusual habitats if not on public property.
4. Spread your effort throughout the day. In the first hour or two after dawn the adults are often too preoccupied with feeding themselves and advertising their territories to engage in much breedingrelated behavior. Later in the day may present good opportunities to see behaviors such as nest-building and feeding of young.
67 atlasers have spent 2,870 hours in the field documenting 31,485 sightings. You have recorded 230 species, with 99 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 46 blocks and 3 blocks are considered “complete”.
Happy Atlasing and Happy 4th of July!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator