Bird Atlas Tips May 2012
Loudoun County Atlasers,
May promises to be a great month of atlasing, filled with first of season migrants, fascinating breeding behaviors, and other gifts from mother nature. Breeding activities usually begin well before the earliest safe date for local nesting pairs so don’t wait until safe dates to look for nesting birds. An overambitious pair of House Finches nesting on my front porch has already fledged 4 young and laid a second brood!
1. Surf Scoter, Hooded Merganser, Common Loon, Pied-billed Grebe, Horned Grebe, American Coot, and Redheaded Woodpecker observed at Beaverdam Reservoir in Leesburg 6.
2. Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, and Warbling Vireo reported for Bluemont 5.
3. Osprey observed carrying a stick to it’s nest on the Potomac River in the Seneca 3 block (viewed from Algonkian park). Remember to include sightings on and over the Potomac for the atlas.
4. Wild Turkey nest with 8 eggs found in the Purcellville 2 block.
5. Wilson’s Snipe reported for Whites Ford Park in Poolesville 3.
1. While a singing male often alerts you to the presence of a nesting pair, the female is often the key to confirmation. Watch females closely for nest building, incubating, and feeding young.
2. When you hear a bird singing, try re-visiting the same spot a week later because that’s one of the easiest ways to document a probable breeder (T code).
3. If you have a smartphone and are interested in using it for birding, please let me know and I’ll forward you information on recording songs and reporting sightings to ebird via your phone.
1. When atlasing, don’t forget nocturnal birds such as Common Nighthawks and Whip-poor-wills. Breeding Nighthawks were reported in the Wheaton/Silver Spring area during the 1980s Maryland Breeding Bird Atlas – some were breeding on the roof of Wheaton Plaza! While this isn’t in Loudoun County, it’s pretty close. Over 30 Nighthawks were reported from the parking lot of Wegmans in Ashburn last year so be on the lookout.
2. The Owl/Nightjar and Miniroute Special Surveys begin this month. Please let me know if you are interested in covering a route. 3. If you haven’t already, please mail me your field cards from the previous atlas year.
Upcoming Events (refer to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy website for details)
1. Bring the birds to you! There will be a native plant sale at the Rust Nature Sanctuary (802 Children’s Center Rd, Leesburg) on May 5th from 9-4.
2. Loudoun Wildlife is holding a series of bird walks between May 5 and May 13 to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day. Check the Loudoun Wildlife website for details and to sign up for a walk.
3. On May 10 my daughters (ages 2 and 5) and I will be conducting our 4th Bird-a-thon. It really is quite a hoot (pardon the pun) to search for birds while making sure the girls don’t jump into the ponds or wander off into the woods, but what a fun way to share my enthusiasm for nature and birds with them! Please let me know if you’re interested in sponsoring our team, The Ligi Nestlings, or would like more information. All Bird-a-thon donations are tax deductible and provide the primary source of funding for the atlas. Thanks for your consideration.
76 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 3,735 hours in the field documenting 41,588 sightings. You have recorded 240 species, with 101 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 50 blocks and 12 blocks are considered complete (though sightings can still be reported).
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator