Bird Atlas Tips July 2012
Loudoun County Atlasers,
Birders throughout the state flocked to Loudoun between June 9-17 to participate in the annual Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO) Foray and contribute valuable data for the atlas. Thank you to all who helped, especially our fellow atlasers who went out of their way to welcome out of town guests. While the final results are not yet available, it’s safe to say the foray was a success, adding breeding confirmations and sightings for several under-covered atlas blocks. A few of the many foray highlights include Scissortailed Flycatcher (found in approximately the same location at the same time as last year – astonishing!), a very vocal Alder Flycatcher, Barred Owl fledglings, Dickcissel, Horned Lark, Horned Grebe, and multiple breeding confirmations for Red-headed Woodpecker.
1. Cattle Egret (a new species for our atlas list) observed at Dulles Airport in Herndon 1.
2. Bobwhites heard calling in the same area on multiple visits by multiple atlasers, suggesting 2 males establishing territory in Waterford 4.
3. Hooded Merganser with babies observed at the Dulles Wetlands for the second year in a row.
4. Green Heron nest with 4 eggs discovered in Algonkian Park (Seneca 3 block).
5. Late White-throated Sparrow in Waterford 3.
6. A Brown Thrasher entertained an atlaser in Waterford 1 by perfectly mimicking the sound of her telephone ringing when singing his repertoire.
7. Great Horned Owl observed on nest in Lincoln 2 back in May (this was too good not to mention)
1. A few atlasers have recently raised an excellent question – when does the atlas officially end? The atlas runs through Dec. 31, 2013 so we do have one more breeding season after this one to complete any unfinished blocks. Of course, the more we accomplish this year the better!
2. We encourage atlasers to record data for bird species that have already been documented as nesting – it often only takes an extra minute or two and no harm will be done by additional sightings. However, we do suggest that atlasers don’t go out of their way to pursue this kind of data.
3. If you completed an owl/nightjar route or an abundance miniroute, please submit your completed data sheet and map to me at your earliest convenience.
1. Listen for unfamiliar calls – especially if they sound like those of baby birds – and track them down. Even if you don’t find the young, the adults usually give themselves away with alarm calls or distraction behavior. The calls of fledglings are just as distinctive to species as those of adults and can be learned with practice. 2. Now is a good time to look for breeding in Goldfinches, Indigo Buntings, Cuckoos,and other late nesters.
3. Look for patches of habitat that are not common throughout a block. Survey these patches extra well. Ask landowners for permission to access such unusual habitats if not on public property.
The BBA Explorer website is currently down (most likely due to the severe storms that swept the area Friday night) so I can’t access the current stats for this month. I’m sure they are working hard to get the site up and running as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience. I hope you all fared okay with the storm!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator