Archive for March, 2015

League of Women Voters® of Loudoun County
“Birds, Bees and Butterflies”
State of Loudoun County’s Environment 

 Theme of Upcoming LWV-LC Annual Meeting


NEWS RELEASE                                                 Contact: Kathleen Hughes, 703-314-3590

LEESBURG, VA — Nicole Hamilton, executive director of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy will be the keynote speaker at the League of Women Voters of Loudoun County (LWV-LC) annual meeting and luncheon at 11:30 on April 25 at the Palio Ristorante Italiano in Leesburg. The luncheon costs $35 for LWV-LC members and $40 for nonmembers. Reservations must be made by April 20.

Ms. Hamilton will address one of LWV-LC’s major policy issues­­––the quality of Loudoun County’s environment––as she discusses, “Birds, Bees and Butterflies.” The mission of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is to promote the preservation and proliferation of healthy wildlife habitats throughout Loudoun County. The Conservancy offers field trips, conducts habitat restoration projects like “Bringing Back the Monarch,” presents citizen science programs, and advocates on behalf of wildlife so Loudoun’s representatives know that we care about the wildlife and habitat of the county.

El_Rosario_Monarchs_20130301-32Nicole Hamilton was president of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy from 2004-2008 and again from 2012 to the fall of 2014. As president, Ms. Hamilton established Loudoun Wildlife’s Bluebird Nestbox Monitoring program through a partnership with the Virginia Bluebird Society; developed the Loudoun Amphibian Monitoring Program; created the “Field Guide to the Butterflies of Loudoun;” and most recently launched Loudoun Wildlife’s Monarch butterfly campaign: “Bringing Back the Monarch, Keeping the Magic Alive.” In 2014, she was asked to serve as the first executive director of the organization. Ms. Hamilton holds a master’s degree in business administration and worked for nineteen years with Booz Allen Hamilton as a senior associate.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging the informed and active participation of citizens in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy, never supporting or opposing any political party or candidate. Formed in 1946, the LWV-LC was the first rural League of Women Voters in Virginia and was recently recognized by the national organization for increasing its membership more than 34 percent in 2013 and for its educational programs on voting rights and its voter registration of high school seniors in Loudoun County.

Reservations for lunch and checks should be sent to: League of Women Voters of Loudoun County, P.O. Box 822, Leesburg, VA 20176 by April 20. Please include contact information.



The Land Trust of Virginia

invites you to attend a presentation

“Lucketts Rural Village and Community Workshop

An Introduction to Conservation Easements: 

How they can benefit you as they preserve rural areas



Lucketts Community Center

42361 Lucketts Road

Leesburg, Virginia 20176

April 8th, 2015, 6:30– 8:30 p.m.

Refreshments Provided

Open to the Public


Please contact the Land Trust of Virginia by phone at 540-687-8441 or

by email at for further information


Nine people gathered at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship last Saturday morning for the Loudoun Wildlife’s regular monthly bird walk (every 4th Sat.) there.

It started cold (24, 25 degrees) and windy and stayed that way for the entire walk which was led by Joe Coleman & Joanne Bradbury.

Most birds were quiet and tucked in until about 10 am when we did start finding a few species in sunny places sheltered from the wind. We parked on Arnold Lane, took detours down to Piney Run on both the Old Bridge and Little Turtle Trails and looped back along Sweet Run, Butterfly Alley and the Wood Thrush Trail. The highlight was, for most of the participants, a FOS Eastern Phoebe which we found as we were returning to where we had parked on Arnold Rd.

For a complete list of the birds see the eBird list below.

Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at  Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its many free activities can be found at

Joe Coleman


Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship – MFF01, Loudoun, US-VA Mar 28, 2015 8:00 AM – 10:50 AM

Protocol: Traveling

2.0 mile(s)

30 species

Black Vulture  1, Turkey Vulture  4, Red-shouldered Hawk  1, Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  3, Mourning Dove  1, Red-bellied Woodpecker  5, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  2, Downy Woodpecker  4, Pileated Woodpecker  1, Eastern Phoebe  1, Blue Jay  X, American Crow  X, Fish Crow  X, Carolina Chickadee  8, Tufted Titmouse  8, White-breasted Nuthatch  4, Brown Creeper  2, Carolina Wren  1, Eastern Bluebird  5, American Robin  7, Northern Mockingbird  2, European Starling  2, Song Sparrow  6, Swamp Sparrow  1, White-throated Sparrow  2, Dark-eyed Junco  1, Northern Cardinal  2, Red-winged Blackbird  1, Brown-headed Cowbird  1, House Sparrow  1

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


An update from our Bird Atlas Coordinator, by Spring Ligi

For the past five years, local citizen scientists have been observing and listening to birds in their backyards and throughout Loudoun County, acquiring a unique and intimate glimpse of our feathered friends. Did that cardinal have nesting material in her mouth? Is that the deep, soft hoots of a dueting pair of Great Horned Owls? These and other behaviors were documented on field cards and entered into an online database hosted by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. The results of this year-round Bird Atlas, lead and funded by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, provide a comprehensive list of breeding and non-breeding birds in Loudoun and information on their distribution. The results will help identify and protect important bird areas and provide insight into population changes over the past 25 years and into the future.

The Bird Atlas was quite an undertaking, with 85 enthusiastic Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy atlasers volunteering almost 6,000 hours in the field and reporting more than 64,500 sightings. 263 species were documented between April 2009 and March 2014, with 104 of these species confirmed as breeding in Loudoun County. Table 1 below provides a snapshot of the overall results, including a breakdown of breeding versus non-breeding birds and comparisons with data from the 1985–1989 Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA).

Where did we find the most species? Surprisingly, the top five blocks with the most species were in eastern Loudoun, which, unlike the somewhat rural western half of the county, is undergoing rapid development. An astounding 190 species were documented in the Brambleton area and also in southern Leesburg (areas in and around Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve). The Sterling area, including Algonkian and Bles Parks, proved to be another rich birding area, hosting over 165 species. One possible explanation for why these more urbanized areas are so productive is that the birds are forced into smaller pockets of suitable habitat, making them easier to observe and document.

One exciting outcome of the Bird Atlas is a new and improved Birds of Loudoun Checklist. Significant updates were made to the original checklist, including the addition of new species and breeding statuses, adjustments in seasonal occurrence and relative abundance, and updates in taxonomic order. The list now includes 305 bird species identified in the county through March 2014, with over 120 reported breeders. To obtain a copy of the checklist, come to one of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s bird walks or download the list from the Loudoun Wildlife website.

Additional products from the Bird Atlas will include a summary article, species accounts, comparisons with the 1985-1989 Virginia BBA, and identification of important bird areas throughout the county. Identifying important bird areas will allow Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and other local conservation groups to design strategies to protect the birds and other wildlife within these areas.

How have the birds changed in Loudoun over the past 25 years? Who are the “winners” and the “losers”? These are some of the intriguing questions we are beginning to answer with the Bird Atlas data. Two species whose stories stand out are the Bald Eagle and Northern Bobwhite. Bald Eagles were confirmed as breeding in seven atlas blocks and observed in 52 of the 73 blocks (Figure 1). These results provide a striking contrast to the 1980s Virginia BBA, which did not report any breeding Bald Eagles in Loudoun County. Their successful comeback can be directly attributed to the banning of DDT and placement of this species on the endangered species list. Conversely, the Northern Bobwhite is a species that has declined severely throughout the county over the past 25 years. Evidence of at least possible breeding was reported in only 19 of the 73 atlas blocks, which is down significantly from 61 blocks in the 1980s Virginia BBA (Figure 2). Their decline can be attributed to habitat loss and degradation resulting from development in our rapidly growing county, as well as changes in agricultural practices throughout their range.

We’ve only just begun analyzing this fascinating Bird Atlas dataset. Check the website ( for more information and stay tuned in the coming months for distribution maps, species accounts, case studies, and additional atlas comparisons!

Table 1.  Overall Bird Atlas Results

Total species 263
Confirmed breeders 104
Confirmed and Probable breeders 117
Confirmed, Probable, and Possible breeders 120
Migrant only species 77
Winter species 66
Year-round species 68
Average species per block 110
Average hours recorded per block 83
Breeding birds documented in Loudoun in Loudoun Co. Bird Atlas but not 1980s Atlas 14
Breeding birds documented in Loudoun in 1980s Atlas but not Loudoun Co. Bird Atlas 7


18th Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count ─ A Great Success!

by Joe Coleman

Allen+RamosGooseCreek Allen+RamosThe 18th Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, was held on December 27, 2014.

One hundred people participating in the count found 96 species and 29,979 individuals, with the most unusual sightings being a first-ever Blue Grosbeak and a count week dark-phase (blue) Snow Goose.

Other highlights included a Common Goldeneye (found on only four previous counts), a Peregrine Falcon (on only one previous), and the following, found on only a third to a half of Central Loudoun’s counts: Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, American Woodcock, Great Black-backed Gull, Gray Catbird, and Brown Thrasher.

Highest counts ever for the Central Loudoun CBC include: 37 Bald Eagles, 18 Cooper’s Hawks (tied), 3,998 Ring-billed and 88 Herring Gulls, 37 Belted Kingfishers, 8 Eastern Phoebes, 1,241 Fish Crows, 59 Brown Creepers, and 24 Winter Wrens.  Five American Kestrels, however, was the historic low count.

The 55 Red-headed Woodpeckers found on the 27th were not only a new high for the count, they were an incredible jump from last year’s 3, when there were virtually no acorns to be found in the area.

But this wasn’t the only woodpecker species found in high numbers this year, as the 97 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and 234 Downy Woodpeckers were both high counts while the 33 Hairy Woodpeckers was the second highest.

In addition, while no unusual owls were found on this count, all four of the common owls, Barn (1), Eastern Screech (4), Great Horned (4), and Barred (16), were found in almost perfect conditions for owling.

One of the most interesting aspects of a Christmas Bird Count is how much it varies from year to year; even more interesting is trying to figure out why the differences occur. While some of the reasons, such as the lack of acorns or a heavy rain keeping both birds and birders hunkered down an entire day are obvious, other changes are harder to determine. What is clear is that the value of CBCs comes from the long-term trends they reveal.

There is little doubt that Bald Eagles and Common Ravens are seen in higher numbers than they were 18 years ago, while Northern Bobwhites have virtually disappeared at this time of year. These trends aren’t confined to Loudoun County.

When one compares the results of all the Christmas Bird Counts in our area, these trends are apparent all over the mid-Atlantic. The more than 2,000 counts and more than 20,000 people participating in them, along with scientists who oversee the counts, make this citizen science at its best.

White-throated and Osage close up (3 of 1)At the end of an almost perfect winter day, 58 of us gathered at the Oatlands Carriage House for a Tally Rally, coordinated by Rhonda Chocha, where we shared a hearty meal and lots of birding tales.

Loudoun Wildlife thanks the many landowners, private and public, who let us visit their properties. Without that access, this count would not be nearly as successful. We also thank the birders, experienced as well as beginner, and especially the 20 or so sector leaders who spent hours in the field and made this a very successful count!

Thank you to all of our counters:

Bob Abrams, Steve Allen, Anna Arguelles, Beth Baker, Ron Baker, Gem Bingol, Susan Blaha, Joan Bodreau, Jan Braumuller, Bill Brown, Bob Butterworth, Dan Carrier, Constance Chatfield-Taylor, Roy Chaudet, Linda Chittum, Rhonda Chocha, Isaac Clizbe, Kent Clizbe, Betsy Coffey-Chaudet, Joe Coleman, Cheri Conca, Jeff Cramer, Jamison Cramer, Candi Crichton, Casey Crichton, Ellie Daley, Phil Daley, Jim Daniels, Katherine Daniels, Matt DeSaix, Suzanne DeSaix, Bethea Dowling, Robert Elder, Susan Elder, Kate Eldridge, Aiden Excell, Jason Excell, Sandy Farkas, Ellie Florance, Mary Ann Good, Kurt Gaskill, Dirck Harris, Olivia Henry, Bruce Hill, Teri Holland, Robin Hoofnagle, Gerco Hoogeweg, Bruce Johnson, Jill Johnson, Lucy Julian, Jodi Kinny, David Ledwith, Spring Ligi, Bob MacDowell, Karin MacDowell, Steve Makranczy, Andy Martin, Tess McAllister, Katie McDole, Laura McGranaghan, Liam McGranaghan, Larry Meade, Carole Miller, Paul Miller, Linda Millington, Sharon Moffett, Rusty Moran, Gary Myers, Jim Nelson, Lynn Nelson, Nick Newberry, Lisa Newcombe, Patrick Newcombe, Bryan Peters, Donna Quinn, Johnnie Ramos, Nancy Reaves, Dori Rhodes, Cheryl Roesel, Aaron Rush, Brian Rush, Del Sargent, Carolyn Smith, Judy Smith, Reets Smith, Emily Southgate, Chris Straub, Jean Tatalias, Pidge Troha Anna Urciolo Helen VanRyzin David VanTassel Jenny Vick, Anthony Wagner, Warren Wagner, Marcia Weidner, Mimi Westervelt, Carol White, Chris White, Jeff Wneck, Holly Wolcott, Jane Yocom


Phillips_Farm_Clearwing_Sphinx_moth_20140703-3Feeling ready to think about gardening? Join us for a great free program this Sunday, 2pm on Creating a Habitat Garden. Native landscape designer, John Magee, will tell all!

Sign up here:

Creating a Habitat Garden — Sunday, March 8, 2:00 p.m., Morven Park Carriage Museum. Join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and landscaper John Magee, owner of Magee Design, as he shows us how to set up a habitat garden in our yards and then, if we choose, get it certified through the Audubon at Home program. Discussion will cover the four basic design principles of habitat – food, shelter, water and a place to raise young. Pollinator-friendly native plants will be emphasized.

Pick up a free copy of our Gardening for Wildlife Plant list.


Here’s a pretty neat photo contest that Xerces just launched – it’s open through April 21 and what is especially cool about it is that the photos you submit will be used as part of the data to create native plant lists to help support Monarch butterflies (all all the creatures that live alongside Monarchs!)

Here’s are the details:

Eastern_Tiger_ST_Monarch_Joe_Pye_20140729-3The Xerces Society is partnering with the Monarch Joint Venture on a photo contest to gather information on important nectar plants for monarchs throughout the continental U.S.

Please help us gather information about monarchs on native nectar plants in your region!

The contest is only available to Facebook users, and it ends April 21, 2015.

More details can be found on the contest page: 

Please note that the emphasis is on native plants. If you are unsure of whether a plant is native, check using the USDA-PLANTS database,

If you have observations of monarchs using native nectar plants in your area that you would prefer to share directly, please send them to These entries will not be part of the contest.

Please include the plant species name, location, and time of year that monarchs use this plant.

All of the information we collect will be used to develop regional recommendations regarding optimal nectar plants for monarchs in all parts of their life cycle, including spring and fall migration, summer breeding, and the overwintering period.