Ligi Nestlings Birdathon Report!
The Ligi Nestlings biggest bird-a-thon!
Sunday, May 10th marked our 7th annual bird-a-thon for The Ligi Nestlings. This was our biggest bird-a-thon yet! We birded (I use that term loosely) for almost 2 hours and found a new record of 31 species! We also raised more money than ever before…almost $700 (including a donation from McKenzie and Addison’s piggy banks). All donations go to the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy to support bird-friendly educational programs, habitat restoration, and citizen science projects. A huge thank you goes to our friends and family for their generous support and encouragement along the way!
So how does a Bird-a-thon work with an 8, 5, and 1 year old? Well, it’s fun and it’s crazy. McKenzie was our team recorder and carried a clipboard around. She started off looking for birds, but got side tracked by all the caterpillars and butterflies. She took a couple caterpillars home and we worked together to identify them as Eastern Tent Caterpillars (aye yi yi). We watched them form their cocoon in our butterfly enclosure on the back porch. I’m not sure how the release is going to go, but what a great learning experience for the girls. Addison was the most focused during our bird-a-thon and proudly identified a Cardinal, Robin, and Mourning Dove all by herself. Little Catherine had no idea what was going on, but she looked cute and said “bird” in the sweetest little voice. We also spent some time playing pooh sticks and exploring around the creek with our nets. The pollen and mayflies eventually won out, sending poor McKenzie and Catherine to the car with big puffy eyes. They looked so miserable that we finished our birding adventure from the car and the comfort of GaGa and Opa’s house. A special thanks goes to dad for keeping the girls dry and safe and for letting me wander off every now and then to track down a bird.
Here’s our species list and a few highlights from the Blue Ridge Center and surrounding areas:
- American Robin (6)
- Mourning Dove (3)
- Crow (10)
- Black Vulture (11)
- American Goldfinch (7, McKenzie’s favorite because we saw them with a small flock)
- Eastern Bluebird (3)
- Great Blue Heron (2, most likely flying to a nearby rookery)
- Turkey Vulture (4)
- Tree Swallow (10, this was one of the few birds that stuck around long enough for Catherine to see)
- Indigo Bunting (2)
- Carolina Chickadee (8)
- Eastern Towhee (1)
- Blue Gray Gnatcatcher (1)
- Field Sparrow (3)
- Northern Cardinal (6, Addison proudly identified this species for our team and even knew the boys from the girls!)
- Barn Swallow (1)
- Downy Woodpecker (1)
- Blue Jay (3)
- Chipping Sparrow (1)
- Chickens (8, not really wild but everyone on our team actually saw them so they made the list )
- Pileated Woodpecker (1, flying into his nest cavity)
- Carolina Wren (1)
- Eastern Phoebe (2, a nice pair twitching their tails near the water)
- Northern Mockingbird (2)
- European Starling (1)
- Common Grackle (6)
- Red-winged Blackbird (3)
- Osprey (catching a fish and flying off towards the nearby Potomac River, probably heading to her own nest to feed her own nestlings. Unfortunately the girls missed it, but it was definitely a highlight for me!)
- House Sparrow (1)
- Gray Catbird (1)
- Song Sparrow (1, chowing down at the feeder in GaGa and Opa’s backyard)
Our naturalists-in-training also found caterpillars, butterflies, a turtle, flowers, pigs, dogs, and a gazillion bugs.