Loudoun County Atlasers,
I’m going with “the early bird catches the worm” approach and sending these monthly tips a bit early. My family and I will be away the first week of April (Disneyworld here we come!!) so thanks for bearing with me. Please contact your regional coordinator with any questions or concerns. I’ll look forward to hearing many great reports when I get back – you never know what surprises you’ll find unless you get out there and look!
1. Several flocks of Snow Geese observed flying over Leesburg 4 (numbering in the thousands!), Purcellville 2, and Leesburg 5.
2. Common Goldeneye, Common Loon, and Horned Grebe observed on Beaverdam Reservoir in Leesburg 6.
3. Red-breasted Merganser reported in Round Hill 4.
4. Horned Lark documented in Ashby Gap 6.
5. Rusty Blackbird, an atlas Species of Special Interest, observed in Waterford 5.
The following blocks are in need of coverage, especially migrants and/or breeding species:
- Region 1 – Round Hill 2 and 5, Charles Town 6
- Region 5 – Middleburg 4, Ashby Gap 4 and 5 Region 7 – Gainesville 2
Please consider conducting a survey in a block listed above (or any block with little coverage). Maps and current species lists for each block, along with a spreadsheet of Atlas Progress, can be found on the atlas website. Please ask if you have any questions.
Reminders and General Tips (taken from the Maryland/DC Breeding Bird Atlas, the Species of the Month section will return this fall)
1. All paper field cards and Special Survey forms from the previous atlas year should be mailed to me by April 30th. We need this information to validate particular records or obtain missing data.
2. Watch for repeated flights of a silent bird going to or from a particular spot. Many foraging adults use the same general route to and from the nest for an hour or more at a time. The route will change over time.
3. Look for patches of habitat that are not common in most of that block and survey extra well. Ask landowners for permission to access such unusual habitats if not on public property.
4. Look for breeding evidence for the Yellow-throated Warbler, a species suspected to breed in Loudoun (they’re known to breed in neighboring counties). This species is an early breeder that quiets down toward the end of May, breeding in pine forests, sycamore swamps, and riparian woodland.
5. Horned Larks are nesting now – look for activity in last year’s crop fields or on sod farms with lots of barren soil and a few sprigs of vegetation. You may need a scope to sit back and watch the birds from over 200 yards away as they carry food. Young fledge in 6-7 days; a quick nester! Fledglings may be seen running on plowed fields after parents.
Bring the birds to you! There will be a native plant sale at the Rust Nature Sanctuary (802 Children’s Center Rd, Leesburg) on April 6th from 9-4, including exhibits featuring monarch butterflies, native bees, and much more.
82 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 4,995 hours in the field documenting 55,695 sightings. Because of your effort and skill we have recorded 251 species, with 103 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. Field cards have been reported for 53 blocks and 26 blocks are considered complete (though sightings can still be reported).
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator