Volume 27 Issue 3, Summer 2022
by Joe Coleman, Birding Coordinator
More teams than ever, 13, participated in this year’s Birdathon, raising nearly $22,000 and finding 153 species. Including the 11 walks and events that occurred April 23 through May 22, our birders observed a total of 157 species.
With the Raven Loonatics sitting out this year’s Birdathon, the participating teams competed fiercely to find the most species. Gone Pishing, comprised of Bryan Henson, Allison Gallo, and Jane Yocom, won the “Most Species” award. “So ends another great Birdathon with one more species than last year for a total of 121 species! Not only did we get to see lots of birds, but we had beautiful weather in spite of the forecast, and we got to see many other critters as well,” the team reported. (See all Birdathon 2022 team reports and more great photos.)
Their effort was closely followed by the Fully Palmated Birders (Mike Sciortino, Christine Boeckel, Michael Myers, and Mike Scott) with 119 species, and Shrike Force (Joe Coleman, Mary Ann Good, and Laura and Liam McGranaghan) not far behind with 117. All three of these were team bests for the Birdathon.
In their 14th Birdathon, the Ligi Nestlings (Spring, Addison, and Catherine Ligi) won the “Most Species Observed by Fledgling Birders” award with 41 species. Their most exciting find was a Northern Harrier on Hibbler Road. The Fearsome Fledglings (Sarah and Henry Kabealo, Eloise and Madeline Coddington, and Elle Kho) were close behind. As Sarah, the only adult on that team wrote, “We ended up identifying 39 species of birds together, which is amazing for a group of pre-K to second graders! We explored fields, woods, wetlands, ponds, and a playground in search of our specimens. … Various team members also spotted and identified a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a Belted Kingfisher, and an Eastern Wood Pewee, but it can be difficult to get consensus when your team is comprised mostly of kindergartners.”
Snap, Grackle, Pop! (Linda Colucci, Karenna Awtry, and Adarra Riccuti) made one of the most exciting finds of the Birdathon, a Common Merganser with ducklings on the Potomac River — the first time this species has been found with young during the Birdathon. While there is a good chance that its nest was in a tree cavity in Loudoun, it was on Maryland waters so we still need to find a nest in the county before we can confirm it as a Loudoun County nester. This is difficult since the ducklings stay in their well-hidden cavity for only a short time.
The Andersons, Abigail (9), Rua (7), Sadie (5), Henry (2), and parents Kiersten and Eric, participating in their first Birdathon as the Flying Kites, won the “Most Species Observed by a Family” distinction with an amazing 91 species. In addition to three different Barred Owls, their favorite sighting was a beautiful male Wilson’s Warbler. The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship was the family’s “favorite spot of the Birdathon due to its beautiful views, extensive forest trails and nature playground,” they reported.
By raising $5,573, Shrike Force won the “Most Money Raised” award. Not only were the Whiskey Drinking Warbler Watchers (Scott Harris, Peter Lyttle, Linda Millington, and Robert Justin) not far behind in money raised, they won the prize for “Most Species Observed by First Timers” participating in the Birdathon with 104 species.
Other first-time teams were Birds Aren’t Real (Jessie, Scarlett, and Michael Myers), who found 80 species, and Jay Fever (Ada, Ella, and Zach Stevenson, and Nancy Reaves) with 84 species. Other returning teams were the Grumpy Old Men (Phil Daley, David Van Tassel, Joseph Shankin, Bruce Johnson, Paul Miller, and Ernie Carnevale) with 79 species, Krazy4Birds (Marion Esposito, Katarina Miller, Dakota Brooks, and Christopher Esposito), and the Larkolinks (Sally Brenton, Zoe Sowers, Debra Gutenson, Laureen Megan, Dolores Goodson, and Nancy Norpel). Like some other teams, the Larkolinks had their personal best year, with 72 species.
While all 13 teams had a great time, the Birdathon also reminded us how important it is to protect natural habitats, especially in areas subject to intensive development pressure. Many of the most productive birding areas, like Algonkian Regional Park, Bles Park, and the Broad Run Stream Valley Park, are in the most rapidly developing parts of the county. Since the Birdathon began over 15 years ago, we’ve confirmed how rich the county’s wildlife habitat is and how important it is to preserve. With your support, Loudoun Wildlife will continue working to protect it.
The Birdathon is both an important fundraiser for Loudoun Wildlife and one of its citizen science tools, helping us evaluate the health of local bird populations and their habitat. We thank the generous donors for supporting Loudoun Wildlife’s efforts, the members of the 13 teams, and the leaders of the 11 birding walks and events who made it possible.