Bird Atlas Tips April 2012
Loudoun County Atlasers,
Feeling adventurous? Consider choosing a block (see attached map for block statuses or check the atlas website) to spend an hour or two searching for a few target birds. It’s easier than you think. For example, the Leesburg 3 block has no reports of Canada Goose, Brown-headed Cowbird, or House Sparrow. Middleburg 4 has no reports of Red-bellied Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, and Eastern Phoebe. And some blocks, such as the Gainesville 2 and Arcola 3 blocks, have no coverage at all so any data you collect will be helpful. We still have a few weeks until the majority of species enter into safe dates, giving you time to view the current and missing species lists for a block through the BBA Explorer database (http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bba/index.cfm?fa=explore.ResultsByBlock&BBA_ID=VA-Lou2009). The following Google Map link will help you identify habitat and potential access points: http://data.mapchannels.com/embed/loudounbba.htm. Who knows what other species and breeding behaviors you’ll discover while searching for your target birds, especially with migratory season upon us?
Way to go!
I recently presented our atlas results to the board members of the Virginia Society of Ornithology who were very impressed with our progress. Thanks to your hard work, we are establishing a comprehensive list of birds throughout Loudoun and identifying important bird areas to protect. Keep up the great work!
1. Canvasback, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, and Pied-billed Grebe observed in the Sterling 3 block.
2. Great Blue Heron Rookery with 31 occupied nests as well as 2 adult Bald Eagles observed on a nest in the Harpers Ferry 3 block. These nests are located on the Virginia side of the Potomac River (remember to include sightings on and over the Potomac for the atlas).
3. Three lucky atlasers were treated to the full song of a Brown Creeper, along with a Winter Wren and Barred Owl at Balls Bluff Cemetery (Waterford 6 and Leesburg 2).
4. Nice flock of 75-100 Rusty Blackbirds observed at Horsepen Preserve. This species of special interest was also reported at Algonkian Park.
5. Baltimore Oriole continued to be present on and off throughout much of March at a feeder in the Middleburg 2 block.
Reminders and Tips
1. Safe dates (listed on field card) indicate when a species is no longer in migration and can be presumed to be on breeding territory. These dates are not nest dates and are used as a general guideline to determine whether an individual bird is a possible breeder or a migrant. Remember that you can report probable and confirmed breeding behavior anytime, regardless of safe dates. The one exception to this rule is the P (pair) code in the probable breeder category, since some species sing and pair up before reaching their breeding grounds.
2. Look for breeding evidence for Yellow-throated Warblers, a species suspected to breed in Loudoun (they’re known to breed in neighboring counties). The Yellow-throated Warbler is an early breeder that quiets down toward the end of May. They breed in pine forests, sycamore swamps, and riparian woodland.
3. All paper field cards and Special Survey forms from the previous atlas year should be mailed to me by April 30th. We need this information to validate particular records or obtain missing data. Thanks to those who have already submitted their cards.
Upcoming Events (see Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy website for details)
1. Free program covering warbler species that breed or migrate through Maryland and Northern Virginia, stressing those that can be found locally. Identification pointers and songs of birds in spring are emphasized (April 10, 7pm, Ida Lee Recreation Center in Leesburg).
2. Meet Katie Fallon, author of Cerulean Blues, and hear about her search for Cerulean Warblers (April 25, 7pm, Ida Lee Recreation Center in Leesburg).
76 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 3,638 hours in the field documenting 40,234 sightings. You have recorded 239 species, with 100 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 50 blocks and 12 blocks are considered complete (thought sightings can still be reported).
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator