Loudoun County Atlasers,
Thank you for doing such a tremendous job with the atlas so far. Over the past four years, we’ve documented 247 species and volunteered over 4,590 hours. Wow! And we continue to add new species and valuable data to the atlas, such as this month’s Brown-headed Nuthatch. A special thanks goes to our dedicated regional coordinators for their leadership and guidance along the way. A separate email will be sent in the upcoming week or two with the current numbers for each block and an updated block status map. While we’ve accomplished a lot, let’s use this last year to finish up the remaining blocks and generate a valuable dataset of birds in Loudoun County, including important bird areas to protect.
1. Brown-headed Nuthatch observed in Herndon 2. This is a new species for the atlas!
2. Selasphorus sp hummer regularly visiting a backyard feeder in the Bluemont area.
3. Rough-legged Hawk observed in Waterford 4
4. White-winged Crossbill, Red Crossbill, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, American Black Duck, and Herring Gull observed at the Snickers Gap Hawkwatch in Bluemont 1.
5. Loggerhead Shrike observed in a backyard in Leesburg 3. This species of special interest was also reported in October for the Leesburg 5 block.
The following blocks have very few, if any, reports of winter birds (ducks, sparrows, kinglets, etc):
- Region 1 – Round Hill 2, Charles Town 6
- Region 5 – Rectortown 2, Ashby Gap 4 and 5
- Region 7 – Gainesville 2 and Arcola 3
Please consider conducting a survey in a block listed above (or any block with little coverage). Use the atlas as an excuse to explore new areas and learn more about beautiful Loudoun County! Maps and current results for each block can be found on the atlas website. Please ask if you have any questions.
Species of the Month – Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)
The exciting invasion of finches this winter presents our best opportunity to document Evening Grosbeak for the atlas. This rarity has been recently reported in surrounding counties so keep your eyes and ears open this winter.
Here are some fun facts about the Evening Grosbeak:
• Devour surprising quantities of raw salt.
• Do not appear to have a well developed song used in the normal functions of mate attraction and territory defense.
• Can eat 96 sunflower seeds in five minutes. (I can’t imagine being the person to count this!)
• A female collided with a small airplane in Colorado 6,200 ft above ground. Whether this high altitude is unusual for this species is unknown.
Information taken from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pine_Siskin/lifehistory) and www.whatbird.com
Upcoming Events – ‘Tis the season for Christmas Bird Counts
The Central Loudoun CBC will be held Friday Dec 28 and the Calmes Neck CBC (covering far western Loudoun) will be held Saturday Jan 5. These counts are a great way to collect data for the atlas (report those owls!) and contribute to a better understanding of bird populations and dynamics across the country. Please contact Joe Coleman (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re interested in helping with either count. Several atlas blocks lack winter bird sightings so please make the extra effort to note which blocks you are in and report your data for the atlas! If you are pressed for time you can send me your data to enter. A map of the count circle overlaid on the atlas grid is available upon request.
78 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 4,590 hours in the field documenting 52,185 sightings. You have recorded 247 species, with 103 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 53 blocks and 25 blocks are considered complete (though sightings can still be reported).
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator