Archive for October, 2013

Seven birders came to the monthly (fourth Saturday) bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in north-west Loudoun County held on October 26th.  The walk is sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and is conducted the fourth Saturday of each month except December.  It was a frosty morning (the first killing frost in Loudoun County)but no wind and sunny skies.  A total of 32 species was recorded.  We had large groups of both Ruby-Crowned and Golden-Crowned Kinglets, probably more than a dozen of both species were seen in several locations.

The complete list follows:
Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-headed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Grey Catbird, European Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Many thanks to Del Sargent for helping lead the trip and preparing the report!


We encourage all Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy members and friends to stop by a VDOT Location and Design Public Hearing for The Woods Road between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at the J.L. Simpson Middle School, 490 Evergreen Mill Road, SE, Leesburg, VA. If you cannot attend the meeting, you can send written comments to or to Mr. James C. Zeller, P.E., 4975 Alliance Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 by November 8, 2013. More information is at .


Proposals to realign and pave The Woods Road were introduced in 2008 and 2009.  Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy issued multiple action alerts during that period, highlighting concerns about the impact these plans would have on the 725-acre Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, an increasingly important reservoir of biodiversity in Loudoun County.


The newest plan for realignment and paving has addressed some of our earlier concerns about impact to wildlife and habitat.  However, we continue to have questions and concerns about issues such as:  a) the impact on wetlands in the nature preserve, b) the impact on wildlife when The Woods Road realignment separates a section of forest from the rest of the nature preserve, c) the impact on park visitors and wildlife if the road is paved and widened and the speed limit set at 35 mph.


One or more representatives of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy board will attend the public hearing, and shortly thereafter will share any new information we obtain.


On October 12th, a damp & very overcast & occasionally rainy morning, four people showed up for the regular monthly bird walk at the preserve. We decided to take the “Greenway’ through the meadows all the way to the far eastern side of the nature preserve with a side trip along the edge of the woods on the way back. In spite of the weather there were a lot of individuals though species diversity was somewhat lower than average for previous Oct. walks at Banshee Reeks due to some unusual misses such as most of the raptors we usually find there.

Taking the gravel road in front of the Visitor Center we almost immediately found the highlight of the walk, a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW. It was seen flitting back & forth over the gravel road from a patch of briars and scrub to the new David McCarthy Wildflower Meadow and was in with several other birds including a couple of Chipping and Song Sparrows. It was a small sparrow (appearing to be a bit smaller than the chippies it was with and a lot smaller than the Song Sparrows) and was an adult in non-breeding plumage. It had a clear buffy chest with the buffy flanks standing out as well as a very distinctive buffy supercillium and a brownish rump and distinctive lateral throat-stripes. Because this was a bird that none of us were familiar with we spent some time looking at it and the field guides we had with us before it disappeared further back in the brambles & scrub. A little later and a couple hundred yards further we saw it (or a second Clay-colored Sparrow) along the Greenway close to the garden. This one had the same markings and was mixed in with a larger group of Chipping and Field Sparrows as well as a few Song Sparrows and Bluebirds. It appeared to be smaller than the chippies & esp. smaller than the Field Sparrows.

Other highlights of the walk included a juvenile Northern Harrier seen right before we saw the Clay-colored and the sheer quantity of sparrows along with several Phoebes and Catbirds. Our only warblers were a couple of Palms and a Common Yellowthroat. We were also surprised to see a Goldfinch feeding a fledgling.   See below for complete eBird list of the 41 bird species seen at Banshee Reeks. The regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy ( and the Friends of Banshee Reeks (; information on both and their upcoming events can be found on their websites.

Good birding, Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, US-VA Oct 12, 2013 8:00 AM – 11:10 AM Protocol: Traveling 1.75 mile(s)   41 species Canada Goose  70, Mallard  12, Turkey Vulture  2, Northern Harrier  1, Mourning Dove  8, Belted Kingfisher  1, Red-bellied Woodpecker  7, Downy Woodpecker  4, Hairy Woodpecker  1, Northern Flicker  12, Pileated Woodpecker  2, Eastern Phoebe  12, Blue Jay, American Crow, Fish Crow  2, Carolina Chickadee  8, Tufted Titmouse  6, White-breasted Nuthatch  3, Carolina Wren  6, Ruby-crowned Kinglet  4, Eastern Bluebird  20, American Robin  3, Gray Catbird  12, Brown Thrasher  1, Northern Mockingbird  20, European Starling  12, Cedar Waxwing  1, Common Yellowthroat  1, Palm Warbler  2, Eastern Towhee  5, Chipping Sparrow  6, CLAY-COLORED SPARROW 1, Field Sparrow  6, Song Sparrow  15, Swamp Sparrow  1, White-throated Sparrow  12, Northern Cardinal  15, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird  6, House Finch  2, American Goldfinch  20     One of the Goldfinches was feeding a fledgling.

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Here is a wonderful opportunity to help share the Monarch story with the children who live in and around the Monarch sanctuaries in Mexico.  It’s a book donation program – simply a wonderful thing to do:

Bas Relief, LLC, Monarchs Across Georgia and Journey North are once again collaborating to send greetings from your class/household to the students in the monarch reserves through Monarchs Across Georgia’s Mexico Book Project. You can participate in the Buy a Book for Students in Mexico program and send the Spanish version of Monarch Come Play with Me— ¡Monarca Ven! Juega Conmigo—to the reserves with a special bookplate with greetings from you. The books will be delivered to the classrooms by Estela Romero at the same time that she delivers the Symbolic Monarchs.

The deadline to place your order is November 1.

Children who live near the monarch reserves in Mexico welcome the butterflies every winter, but they rarely experience what so many children in the United States and Canada do—caterpillars growing, eating milkweed, turning into chrysalides and emerging as adult monarch butterflies.

The book Monarch! Come Play with Me tells the story of the monarch life cycle from a child’s point of view. This is an opportunity to send the Spanish version of the book to a classroom in Mexico and share your monarch experience with them. In appreciation, a bookplate with your name and location will be attached to the inside cover.

To buy your donation you can visit:

Or go to Journey North to read more about it:

Or visit Monarchs Across Georgia to learn more about the Mexico Book Project:


When I first moved to Loudoun and had a place of our own, the first thing I did (even before the house was finished being built) was to put up a bird feeder.  I then discovered Cornell’s Project Feederwatch and was hooked on birds…and plants that the birds liked and the shelter that the birds needed and, well, you see what happened….

Anyway, Cornell just sent out their annual fall reminder that Project Feederwatch is starting up again for the season so I wanted to share the info here so you too can get hooked on the fun! It’s a wonderful way to help with bird conservation – data is king!

Take a Fresh Look at Nature with Project FeederWatch
More participants needed to track birds at their feeders

Ithaca, N.Y.—A fresh new season for the Project FeederWatch citizen-science project kicks off on November 9. Anyone with an interest in birds and nature is invited to be part of the action. FeederWatch also has a fresh new look for its 27th season, plus new web tools that make participation and exploration even easier and more fun.   Join the tens of thousands of people who keep tabs on the birds that come to their feeders from November through April. Participants submit their observations to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. These long-term data from across North America could not be gathered any other way. Observations help reveal important patterns in bird distribution and numbers that may be changing over time at a continental scale or in a participant’s own backyard.   New and returning participants are urged to sign up now at   “We have a new interactive tool called ‘Common Feeder Birds’ that allows people to learn about the food and feeder preferences of nearly 100 species, based on data collected by participants,” says FeederWatch project leader Emma Greig. “The tool can be used to predict what birds can be attracted to an area so you can offer foods strategically to attract desired species.”   Observations from a record number of participants last season helped scientists follow the changes in woodpecker and nuthatch populations in the Midwest where trees were infested with invasive emerald ash borer beetles.

“We need continued FeederWatch data on woodpecker and nuthatch populations throughout North America to better understand the long term consequences of this beetle invasion,” Greig says. “We also need renewed FeederWatcher effort to monitor the health of House Finches, which are susceptible to a disease that causes swelling around the eyes. Our participants will be asked to report whether they looked for the disease and whether they saw sick birds.”   To learn more about joining Project FeederWatch and to sign up, visit or call the Cornell Lab toll-free at (866) 989-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Cornell Lab members), participants receive the FeederWatcher Handbook and Instructions with tips on how to successfully attract birds to your feeders, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds, and a calendar. Participants also receive Winter Bird Highlights, an annual summary of FeederWatch findings, as well as the Cornell Lab’s quarterly newsletter, Living Bird News.

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.


Join us for this great program where Katie Fallon will give another insightful  and exciting program, this time on the life and times of our vultures!

The Vulture: Invaluable Friend,  Unfortunate Underdog — Sunday, October 27, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m., Morven Park.

Turkey_vulture_20120310_51Vultures  are one of our most misunderstood yet valuable wild creatures; in our area,  they have been tormented and sometimes killed by those who are afraid of them,  don’t like their looks, or don’t understand or appreciate their role in our  ecosystem.

Sure, there are times and places when their roosts should be discouraged, but how can we do it humanely and appropriately? When should we do it? When should we be tolerant? What harm can vultures actually do?

Through this program, we will share some amazing facts about these birds, discuss their migratory and roosting practices, demystify their  behaviors, and discuss how towns across the country actually celebrate their arrival each year.

Whether you are already a fan of these birds or just  curious, come out and learn more about them. All of your questions your are welcome!

This free program sponsored  by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is perfect for  the whole family. Registration  required: Sign  Up Online.  Questions: contact Jill Miller at


Join us for this hands-on workshop on creating vernal pools!  Whether you create a permanent pool or an ephemeral one like a vernal pool, inviting frogs and salamanders to your landscape is so much fun to do!

Gum_Farm_Wood_Frog_migration_20130309-22Vernal Pool Enhancement Workshop  at Morven Park ― Friday and Saturday, October 25 and 26 (Rain Date November 1 and 2).

Morven Park, a 1,000-acre historic  site just outside Leesburg, is partnering with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy  in a workshop to teach people how to restore or construct vernal pool habitats.

On Friday evening (6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.), Mike Hayslett, director of the Virginia Vernal Pools Program,  will lead a classroom session on the ecology of vernal pools – their inhabitants  and what makes them special habitats.

Saturday (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) we will get hands-on as  participants support the pool enhancement itself by helping shape a clay pool  base of sufficient depth and slope to support amphibian life, and reposition  plants and natural material to help the pool flourish. Educational handouts  will be provided.

Fee $35; a limited number of scholarships are available for  educators.

Special Thanks to Rish Equipment Company for  their generous donation in support of this program!

Registration required: Sign  up at Questions: Call 703-777-2414, ext. 6617. Space is limited