Bird Atlas Tips March 2012
Loudoun County Atlasers,
Happy Spring! With such a mild winter, it appears spring migration has already begun. Listserves are buzzing with reports so be on the lookout for early migrants such as swallows, sparrows, and blackbirds. Purple Martins and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been reported in the states and are making their way to Loudoun. For details, check the Bird Migration Forecast, a collaboration between NOAA and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
1. One lucky atlaser was treated to a Baltimore Oriole at his feeder in the Middleburg 2 block.
2. Red-headed Woodpecker reported at Algonkian Park.
3. A short walk through a subdivision in Herndon 5 yielded an early Palm Warbler.
4. Northern Shovelers, Pied-billed Grebes, Hooded Mergansers, Ring-necked ducks, and American Wigeons observed in the Sterling and Middleburg areas. A wigeon was noted diving and coming up with plants in its bill – he must not have gotten the memo that he’s a dabbling duck!
Tips and Reminders
1. When observing courtship in raptors, remember to use the RC atlas code, which confirms breeding for the species (not the “C” code in the Probable Breeder category). This raptor code discourages atlasers from trying to get too close to the nest site since raptors are prone to abandon their nests and young when disturbed.
2. Please take a minute to read the attached document, “Atlasing in a Nutshell.” This brief, 3-page document should serve as a good refresher for the upcoming breeding season and will be posted to the atlas website soon.
3. All incidental and daily field cards should be submitted to the Atlas Coordinator by April 30th. Thanks to those of you who have already submitted your cards.
Species of the Month – Common Raven (Corvus corax)
• Acrobatic fliers, often doing rolls and somersaults in the air. One bird was seen flying upside down for more than a half-mile. Young birds are fond of playing games with sticks, repeatedly dropping them, then diving to catch them in midair.
• Breeding pairs hold territories and try to exclude all other ravens throughout the year. In winter, young ravens finding a carcass will call other ravens to the prize. They apparently do this to overwhelm the local territory owners by force of numbers to gain access to the food.
• Smart birds, using their intellect to put together cause and effect. One study discovered that during hunting season, the sound of a gunshot draws ravens in to investigate a presumed carcass, whereas the birds ignore sounds that are just as loud but harmless, such as a car door slamming.
• Can mimic the calls of other bird species. When raised in captivity, they can even imitate human words.
Info taken from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Raven/id/ac
76 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 3,920 hours in the field documenting 39,860 sightings. You have recorded 238 species, with 100 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 49 blocks and 12 blocks are considered complete (though sightings can still be reported).
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator