Loudoun County Atlasers,
The final year of the atlas is upon us; happy 2013! I bet some of your new year’s resolutions include getting more exercise and taking time to enjoy life. I can’t think of a better way to check off both resolutions than by hiking through the various habitats of Loudoun County while looking for birds (hint hint)! A few notable sightings from 2012 include reports of breeding for Savannah Sparrow, Prothonotary Warbler, and Northern Bobwhite as well as observations of Red and White-winged Crossbills, Red-breasted and Brown-headed Nuthatches, Glossy Ibis, Connecticut Warbler, Alder and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Rough-legged Hawk, and Loggerhead Shrike. What a year!
1. Highlights from the very successful Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count include Cackling Goose, Snow Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Red-breasted Merganser, Virginia Rail, Lesser Black-backed Gull (a new species for the atlas!), Longeared Owl, Loggerhead Shrike, Horned Lark, American Pipit, Rusty Blackbirds, and Common Redpoll.
2. Short-eared Owl, Merlin, and Tundra Swan reported for Round Hill 4.
3. Several winter birds reported for Gainesville 2, more than doubling the total number of sightings for this block. Keep up the great blockbusting effort!
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 4 – Waterford 4
- Region 5 – Ashby Gap 4 and 5
- Region 7 – Arcola 3
Please consider conducting a survey in a block listed above (or any block with little coverage). Maps and current results for each block can be found on the atlas website. Please ask if you have any questions.
Recruiting and Training
1. Please let me know if you or someone you know may be interested in attending an atlas training session. The training can serve as a refresher/motivator for current atlasers and/or a crash course for other birders willing to help blockbust for a day or two this spring/summer. IF there is enough interest, I’ll schedule the 1 hour training for late Feb/early March.
2. If you know of any backyard birders that may be interested in submitting their sightings for the atlas please let me know. We’ve found that yard sightings can make significant contributions to an under-covered block.
Species of the Month – Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
- Able runners; once discovered, they drop into the grass and dart away.
- Named after Savannah, Georgia, where one of the first specimens of this bird was collected (not after it’s fondness for grassy areas).
- In many parts of their range, this species strongly tends to return each year to the area where they hatched. This tendency is the driving force for differentiation of numerous Savannah Sparrow subspecies.
- A group of sparrows has many collective nouns, including a “crew”, “flutter”, “quarrel”, and “ubiquity” of sparrows.
Information taken from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Savannah_Sparrow/id) and www.whatbird.com.
78 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 4,636 hours in the field documenting 52,726 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). Keep up the great work!
Happy winter atlasing!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator