Who is on your Birdathon team? Do you have different roles on your team?
Joe Coleman – Joe is our fearless leader. Among many strengths he’s the planner, planning our route and schedule to maximize the potential sightings. He’s a superior all-around birder and has a wealth of natural history and local area knowledge.
Laura McGranaghan – Laura is our spotter and cheerleader. She has enough enthusiasm for us all, in the unlikely case any of us are lacking any, and probably is the one to spy more birds than the rest of us put together, whether driving along or trying to find a hidden singing bird.
Mary Ann Good – Mary Ann has the uncanny ability to name nearly every bird vocalization we encounter. What’s even better, she’s often proven right! Such as, when she didn’t have to eat her hat, as promised if the mystery bird we were hearing along a deep woods stream proved NOT to be an Indigo Bunting.
Gerry Hawkins – Gerry, along with superior skills at identifying birds by sight and sound, has an encyclopedic storehouse of bird information in his brain. He probably has four complete bird field guides/references memorized so that he can make snap calls on sparrows and flycatchers.
When are you doing your birdathon? Saturday, May 5; rain date May 6. We usually start around 4:30 AM and go until after 9:00 PM.
How many species to you hope to get? 113+ to beat our previous standing record
What bird(s) are you stretching to get this year? Our “most wanted” bird is always our namesake, Loggerhead Shrike, which we’ve gotten only once on our actual birdathon. We’ve tried hard and unsuccessfully for Whip-poor-will and Long-eared Owl.
How long has your team been doing this? This will be our 7th year.
What’s the best part of the birdathon? Team Shrike Force—we have such fun! Sparkling early mornings, ringing with bird song. Mid-afternoon chocolate cake break at Joe’s house! Best of all, birds, birds, birds.
What’s the toughest part of the day? Getting out of bed at 3:30. The mid-afternoon doldrums.
Why do you/members of your team do the birdathon? To support a great organization, to beat other teams (we’re very competitive), but mostly because we love birds and birding! For all of us, it’s the highlight of the year.
What do you do in preparation for the count? Incantations and secret rituals (otherwise known as planning and scouting). We can’t give away our best secrets though!
What place do you most look forward to birding during the birdathon and why?
Mary Ann and Joe most enjoy the warblers and thrushes, and the view, up on the mountain, right after sunrise.
Laura’s favorite is the Blue Ridge Center where we have so many great memories, how do you choose one?
The Dulles Wetlands is Gerry’s favorite birdathon spot, as we always get some surprise there, such as 3 Glossy Ibis one year and a Woodcock another.