Loudoun County Atlasers,
October presents a great opportunity to focus on lingering migrants (keep those hummingbird feeders out!) and familiarize yourself with parts of your block you haven’t had time to atlas yet. If you feel your block has been adequately covered, please consider identifying a new block to atlas. I continue to be inspired by everyone’s enthusiasm and dedication to the atlas – keep up the great work!
1. Summer Tanagers highlighted the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy-sponsored bird walks at both the Blue Ridge Center and Algonkian Park.
2. Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, and Black-billed Cuckoo observed at the Snicker’s Gap Hawkwatch (Bluemont 1).
3. Merlin being mobbed by Blue Jays, Red-headed Woodpecker, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Swanson’s Thrush, and seven different warbler species observed at Bles Park.
4. Highlights from Banshee Reeks included an immature Bald Eagle, Osprey, great looks at a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and several mixed flocks of swallows, including Cliff and Northern Rough-winged Swallows.
1. An updated version of the Atlas Handbook will be posted to the atlas website in early November. Paper copies will be available upon request. Several sections of the handbook are being updated, including the special area list, regional coordinator contact information, taxonomic order of the species list, and block completion guidelines.
2. This fall/winter, the Regional Coordinators and I will be assessing the status of all assigned blocks and touching base with all block owners. We’ll also be working with our partners at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to create a feature on BBA Explorer that allows us to track completed blocks.
Species of the Month – Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)
As a way to motivate you to continue atlasing during the non-breeding season, I’ll challenge you each month to find a particular rare or uncommon species previously documented in Loudoun County. Even if you don’t find the featured species, you may encounter another great species along the way or at the very least have fun trying!
Here are some interesting facts about the Golden-winged Warbler, a species of special interest for our atlas:
• Prefers early successional habitats for nesting, benefiting from the extensive deforestation of the last several centuries, especially as farms were abandoned in the 20th century. Current reforestation is reducing available breeding habitat.
• Often breeds with the Blue-winged Warbler when they occur in the same habitat. The fertile offspring have distinct plumages and are called “Brewster’s” and “Lawrence’s” warblers. When these hybrids backcross with a pure parental type, intermediate-appearing birds may result.
• Hybrids do not sing intermediate songs but sing either normal Blue-winged Warbler or Golden-winged Warbler songs. Some birds sing both. Occasionally pure-looking parental types sing the “wrong” song.
• A group of warblers has many collective nouns, including a “bouquet”, “confusion”, “fall”, and “wrench” of warblers. Information taken from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Goldenwinged_Warbler/lifehistory) and www.whatbird.com.
71 atlasers have spent 3,165 hours in the field documenting 35,320 sightings. You have recorded 235 species, with 100 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 46 blocks.
Happy Fall and Happy Atlasing!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator