Loudoun County Atlasers,
November is a time to give thanks. I’m thankful for the time and talent so many of you have devoted to the Bird Atlas over the past five years. The great success of this project is a direct result of all your contributions. And the birds in Loudoun County have a lot to be thankful for, too! Our atlas results will help LWC identify and strive to protect important bird areas throughout the county. I’m also thankful for the newest addition to my own “nest,” my third daughter Catherine Ann. We are all doing well and appreciate your notes of encouragement and congratulations.
1. Clay-colored Sparrow highlighted the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy-sponsored monthly walk at Banshee Reeks in Leesburg 5. Other highlights include a juvenile Northern Harrier and a Goldfinch feeding a fledgling.
2. Peregrine Falcon reported from the Snickers Gap Hawkwatch in Bluemont 1.
3. Late Tennessee Warbler and Common Nighthawk reported from an atlaser’s backyard in Point of Rocks 5.
4. Blue-headed Vireo reported in Waterford 3 and the Blue Ridge Center.
The following blocks could benefit from additional winter bird (and late migrant) coverage:
- Region 1 – Round Hill 2 and 5 Region 2 – Purcellville 1
- Region 3 – Harpers Ferry 6, Point of Rocks 3
- Region 5 – Ashby Gap 4, 5, and 6, Middleburg 4
Please consider conducting a survey in a block listed above. Maps and current species lists for each block can be found on the atlas website.
Species of the Month – Hummingbirds
This is the time of year for lingering Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and out-of-range hummers such as Rufous and Allen’s Hummingbirds. Here are a few tips to keep the hummingbirds in Loudoun County happy and healthy this fall/winter:
- Leave your feeders out until the second week in January, making sure the feeder is clean, the food is fresh, and the feeder is located where you can check it on a daily basis. An extra feeding before crossing the Gulf of Mexico or during a cold winter’s day can make the difference between life and death for these little winged jewels.
- During the breeding season, mix one part sugar to four parts water, boil, and cool. You don’t need to color the water. During migration, up the octane by adding more sugar, one part sugar to three parts water. Sugar and water will freeze around 20 degrees, so fill it just two-thirds full to prevent damage to your feeder when ice expands inside it. If a hard freeze is expected, it’s best to bring the feeder in at night.
- If you are fortunate enough to have a hummingbird visit your yard this fall/winter (there is currently a banded Rufous Hummingbird in a Fairfax County backyard for the second year in a row), please report it for the atlas!
Tips taken from George Jett’s article for The Yellowthroat, the newsletter for the Maryland Ornithological Society
85 enthusiastic atlasers have spent 5,598 hours in the field documenting 62,309 sightings. Because of your effort and skill we have recorded 256 species, with 103 of these species having a confirmed nesting status. 54 blocks are considered complete (though sightings can still be reported).
Loudoun County Bird Atlas Coordinator