Loudoun County Atlasers,
I hope many of you are enjoying the irruption of Red-breasted Nuthatches, along with Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, and even an occasional Red Crossbill. And isn’t it always a joy to welcome back our winter friends, congratulating them on another successful migration.
1. Northern Goshawk and Red Crossbill reported from Snickers Gap Hawkwatch in Bluemont 1.
2. Pine Siskin, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Purple Finch observed throughout the county, along with many First of Season species reports.
3. Solitary Sandpiper, Great Egret, and Common Raven observed at Lyndora Park in Herndon 1.
4. Lincoln’s Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, Northern Harrier, and Blue-headed Vireo highlighted the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy-sponsored walk at Bles Park in Sterling
3. Blue-headed Vireos also entertained one lucky atlaser in the Lincoln 1 block.
1. As we prepare to enter the final year of the atlas, we’ll shift to more of a “blockbusting” mode, focusing on the blocks that still need coverage and documenting the species and breeding behaviors as efficiently as possible. We’ll be organizing a few blockbusting field trips next spring and summer, but in the meantime I’ll highlight a handful of blocks each month that would benefit from additional coverage. Please consider conducting a survey in a block listed below (or any block with little coverage). Use the atlas as an excuse to explore new areas and learn more about beautiful Loudoun County!
The following blocks have very few, if any, reports of winter birds (ducks, sparrows, kinglets, etc):
- Region 1 – Charles Town 6
- Region 5 – Ashby Gap 4 and Rectortown 2
- Region 7 – Gainesville 2 and Arcola 3
2. View the current results (species list) for each block using this link: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bba/index.cfm?fa=explore.ResultsByBlock&BBA_ID=VA-Lou2009
3. View and download a map of each block using this link: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bba/index.cfm?fa=explore.BlockList&BBA_ID=VA-Lou2009
Species of the Month – Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)
• Following a large irruptive winter flight, some individuals may stay near a dependable food source and breed far south of the normal breeding range!
• This species survives cold nights by ramping up it’s metabolic rates – typically 40% higher than a “normal” songbird of their size. They can temporarily store seeds totaling as much as 10% of their body mass in a part of their esophagus called the crop, allowing them to get through 5-6 nighttime hours of subzero temperatures. • When eating from conifers, it usually hangs upside down from the tips of trees.
• A group of finches has many collective nouns, including a “charm”, “company”, and “trembling” of finches.
Information taken from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pine_Siskin/lifehistory) and www.whatbird.com
78 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 4,545 hours in the field documenting 51,630 sightings. You have recorded 247 species, with 103 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. An updated block status map will be available on the atlas website later this month.
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator