Loudoun County Atlasers,
They’re back! Our winter friends are settling in, with many first of season reports trickling in. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the changing seasons while surveying your atlas block this month. Please consider exploring an atlas block with little or no coverage. Imagine how satisfying it will be to report several new species for a block!
1. Golden Eagle, Common Merganser, and Common Loon observed from Snickers Gap Hawkwatch (Bluemont 1).
2. Highlights from Bles Park include Blue-headed Vireo, Northern Harrier, 50+ Ruby-crowned Kinglets, seven warbler species (including Tennessee and Chestnut-sided), and seven sparrow species (including Swamp).
3. Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, American Coot, Great Egret, and Bald Eagle observed in the Seneca 3 block.
4. Banshee Reeks highlights include a begging American Goldfinch fed by its parent, Merlin, Redheaded Woodpecker, Common Raven, and a probable migrating family group of American Kestrels.
Odds and Ends
1. If you are assigned to an atlas block, you’ll be hearing from your Regional Coordinator or myself sometime this month regarding the status of your block (how close to completion you are, tips for getting those last birds, etc.)
2. Both the daily and incidental field cards will be updated with the current taxonomic order and posted to the atlas website sometime this month. Printed copies will become available once my current supply of field cards runs out. The updated atlas handbook will be posted to the website in the coming week.
3. Attention iPhone/iPad gurus: please let me know which bird field guide apps you find most useful and I’ll pass your recommendations along to the group. Inquiring minds want to know!
Species of the Month – Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)
• Hoard excess food by wedging nuts into bark and then hammering the nuts in with its bill.
• Apply sticky conifer resin to the entrance of its nest hole. It may carry the resin in its bill or on pieces of bark that it uses as an applicator. The male puts the resin on the outside of the hole while the females puts it around the inside. The resin may help to keep out predators or competitors. The nuthatch avoids the resin by diving directly through the hole.
• Aggressive during nest building, chasing away other cavity-nesting birds and sometimes stealing nest-lining material from the nests of other birds.
• Migrate southward earlier than many irruptive species, beginning in early July and reaching their southernmost point by September or October.
• Group of nuthatches collectively known as a “jar” of nuthatches. Information taken from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Redbreasted_Nuthatch/lifehistory) and www.whatbird.com.
71 atlasers have spent 3,200 hours in the field documenting 35,685 sightings. You have recorded 235 species, with 100 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 46 blocks and 12 blocks are considered complete.
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator