Loudoun County Atlasers,
June is here and breeding is the name of the game. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, please consider sneaking out one morning or afternoon to survey an atlas block with little coverage (see Blockbusting Tips for the list of blocks). Plan an outing with a friend or make a spontaneous solo survey. You may be entertained by a fledgling’s first clumsy flight, a first year male singing his little heart out for a mate, or perhaps a local rarity. And though I nag, I also plan to take action by conducting a survey or two myself. If we each do a little to help in these final weeks the Bird Atlas will be a huge success!
1. Little Blue Heron observed and photographed at Claude Moore Park in Sterling 6.
2. Common Loon, Prothonotary Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker (investigating nesting cavities), and Pine Siskin reported in Sterling 1. Common Loon also observed in Sterling 3 at the end of April.
3. Kentucky, Blue-winged, and Nashville Warblers, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Purple Finch observed at BRCES.
4. Highlights from the IMBD walks and bird-a-thons include Barn and Barred Owls, Osprey, Scarlet Tanager, Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and Baltimore Oriole.
The following blocks are in need of coverage, especially probable and confirmed breeders:
- Region 1 – Round Hill 2, Charles Town 6 Region 2 – Purcellville 6
- Region 4 – Waterford 6, Leesburg 4 Region 5 – Ashby Gap 4 and 5
- Region 7 – Arcola 5, Gainesville 2 Region 8 – Sterling 5, Herndon 3
Please consider conducting a survey in a block listed above (or any block needing coverage). Maps and current species lists for each block, along with a spreadsheet of Atlas Progress can be found on the atlas website.
Reminders and Tips (tips taken from the 2002-2006 Maryland/DC Breeding Bird Atlas)
1. Brush up on your bird songs and calls, including adult and fledgling vocalizations around the nest.
2. To nail down those last few elusive species in a block, try surveying patches of habitat that are not common in most of that block.
3. Don’t forget to look and listen for owls and nightjars.
4. If you encounter a bird acting furtively or displaying alarm you have 2 responsibilities. First, since you are likely the source of alarm retreat a respectful distance while keeping the bird’s general location in view. Second, when the bird resumes normal behavior determine the reason the bird wanted you gone – nest building, fledglings, etc.
5. One of the easiest ways to confirm breeding is when adults are carrying nesting material or food to the nest or recently fledged young, so watch an adult for 5-10 minutes as it forages. Most feeding rates by an adult song bird are 6-20 times per hour. Similar rates for nest building.
6. 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.
84 enthusiastic altasers have spent 5,160 hours in the field documenting 57,665 sightings. Because of your effort and skill we have recorded 251 species, with 102 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. 32 blocks are considered complete (though sightings can still be reported). Let’s keep up the great work!
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator