Archive for March, 2016

You may have heard or seen a bird hitting your window as it flies from feeders to escape a predator or colliding with your patio door when it sees the reflection of trees and thinks it can fly to them. With luck, the bird has only lightly glanced off the glass or is only briefly stunned. Sadly, however, millions of birds die each year from flying into both buildings and building glass.

According to a new report from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), “Annual bird mortality resulting from window collisions in the U.S. is estimated to be between 365- 988 million birds. “ carolina_wren_apr11BRCES Old Bridge north2 3-26-16

Lest you think the main culprits are gleaming, mirrored city skyscrapers, the USFWS document, “Reducing Bird Collisions with Buildings and Building Glass Best Practices,” says collisions with those structures account for less than 1% of bird deaths. The report says more than half, 56%, occur at buildings between one and three stories, 44% at urban and rural residences.

There are things you can do to help, however, and that is goal of the report in which the Service’s Division of Migratory Bird Management has compiled a list of things you can do to cut down on bird deaths from collisions. These range from suggestions for homeowners to reduce reflection to lighting changes and architectural designs for existing and new commercial buildings. For example, something as simple as adding screens or netting or adding patterns to the outside of your window at home will help.

The document also tells you how to gauge your home or office’s risk for bird collisions.

The suggestions not only will help the birds but also can reduce energy use and cut costs. Help our feathered friends and read this. You can find the study here  http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/pdf/management/reducingbirdcollisionswithbuildings.pdf

USFWS Report

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Have you ever wondered which birds use Loudoun’s parks and preserves as migratory stop-overs, wintering sites, or places to breed?

You can find out with the new species lists for 7 special birding areas in Loudoun: Algonkian Park, the Blue Ridge Center, Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, Bles Park, Claude Moore Harrier NFG-3213-2Park, Horsepen Preserve, and the Dulles Wetlands.

These lists were compiled from data collected during the 2009-2014 Loudoun County Bird Atlas project, which includes year-round data for both breeding and non-breeding birds,  and can be downloaded from the Bird Atlas website  http://www.loudounwildlife.org/Bird_Atlas.htm.

The Bird Atlas Project involved 85 volunteers, who spent more than 5,900 hours over the five-year period collecting data. Check out the “Bird Atlas Summary Report” for some fascinating looks at what species are increasing or declining, plus the Top 25 Breeding species were. You can also find and download an updated “Birds of Loudoun County Checklist” from the website.

Contact Atlas Coordinator Spring Ligi, sligi@loudounwildlife.org, with questions or comments.

Happy Birding!

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Twenty-two people gathered for the regular (every 4th Sat.) bird walk at the Blue Ridge Center on a rather chilly (30 degrees) but still & sunny beautiful spring morning. While we met at the Education Center, where we saw a Chipping Sparrow along the driveway near the entrance and a couple of Eastern Phoebes, we drove to the southern side of center, where we walked part of the Sweet Run Loop and Butterfly Alley. After that a smaller group drove to Arnold Rd where we walked along the road & down to the ford on the Old Bridge Trail. The highlights of the walk were several vocal Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, some of which were bright, almost cerulean blue; several very vocal Field Sparrows; two Brown Thrashers, one of which was singing high on a tree; and a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets. By 11, when we were wrapping up the walk, the temperature had risen into the mid-40’s and a mixed kettle of Black & Turkey Vultures passed by overheard.BRCES-Old-Bridge-south-3-26-16sm

For a complete list of the birds see the eBird list below. The walk was led by Joe Coleman, Del Sargent, Mary Ann Good, & Donna Quinn.

Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at http://www.blueridgecenter.org. Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its many free activities can be found at www.loudounwildlife.org.
Joe Coleman

Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship – MFF01, Loudoun, Virginia, US Mar 26, 2016 7:45 AM – 11:15 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.5 mile(s): 2 miles driving & 1.5 miles walking
Comments: Loudoun Wildlife’s regular monthly bird walk. While we met at the Education Center, we drove to the southern side of center, where we walked part of the Sweet Run Loop and Butterfly Alley, and then a smaller group drove to Arnold Rd where we walked along the road & on the Old Bridge Trail. The highlights of the walk were several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, some of which were bright blue, and several Field Sparrows.BRCES-Old-Bridge-north2-3-26-16-sm
38 species

Canada Goose X
Wood Duck 2
Black Vulture 3
Turkey Vulture 15
Red-shouldered Hawk 2
Mourning Dove 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker 5
Downy Woodpecker 4
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 3
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Eastern Phoebe 5
Blue Jay 7
American Crow 9
Common Raven 1
Carolina Chickadee 11
Tufted Titmouse 10
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Carolina Wren 3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 5 Well-seen and vocal in several different different locations. Two were bright blue-gray (almost cerulean in color in the bright morning sun) and probably males while the others were a paler blue-gray, more gray than blue; all were pale & clear chested. All were small slender active birds busy fly catching in the brush & vines on the edges of the fields & power-cut (Butterfly Alley).
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Eastern Bluebird 10
American Robin 4
Brown Thrasher 2
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling 2
Chipping Sparrow 1
Field Sparrow 7
Dark-eyed Junco 4
White-throated Sparrow 4
Song Sparrow 6
Eastern Towhee 5
Northern Cardinal 15
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Eastern Meadowlark 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 7
American Goldfinch 6
House Sparrow 1

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S28557581

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

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By Ann Garvey

Casey Crichton was an active volunteer for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and other organizations over the past eight years. Casey passed away on March 19 after a brief, but brave, struggle with brain cancer. He was 66.Casey

Casey’s love of nature was evident from his enthusiasm for helping to educate, restore habitat and work on citizen science projects for the environment. One of his passions was trees, not only identifying them but realizing all they provide to the animals and to humans.

He was the “bird man” at the Native Plant sales. Along with fellow Virginia Master Naturalist Dori Rhodes, he helped people learn about the native plants that support native birds in our community. In the Audubon at Home program he served as an Ambassador for clients, pulling from his background as a land developer and property manager. For several of our ambassadors he served as an excellent mentor.

He loved to tell the story of being at Allegheny College and having Doug Tallamy, noted entomologist and author of “Bringing Nature Home,” as one of his classmates. Like Tallamy, Casey liked to recommend the white oak as a tree to plant for the animals.

Every August Casey and his wife, Candi, could be found participating in the butterfly count and in December they took part in the Christmas Bird Count. Helping with the Civics program for 7th grade students at Morven was another of his activities. Along with all his days volunteering for Loudoun Wildlife he also was president of the Friends of Banshee Reeks for four years and an active member with the Master Naturalist chapter.

A ready smile on his face, Casey’s frequent greeting was “Hello, sunshine,” which is exactly what he provided for so many people. He will be missed by so many of us and certainly by the animals and habitats he loved working to support.

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Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is delighted to hear that the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), has received a Virginia Green Travel Star Award for Most Innovative Green Project for a commitment to green tourism practices through its Pollinator Habitat Program at Virginia Welcome Centers.

In 2014, VDOT launched the Pollinator Habitat Program working with Loudoun Wildlife on four pilot plots in four Northern Virginia, planting milkweed and other native plants that will help species of beneficial insects such as bees and Monarch_20150823-98butterflies, including the Monarch.

Last year, Loudoun Wildlife volunteers and Dominion Power representatives worked with VDOT to restore a 15,000 square foot meadow restoration as well as smaller plantings at a center on I-95 north in Dale City. The Dale City Rest Area on I-95 south was one of the four sites planted in 2014.

VDOT has worked on three other sites in southwestern Virginia and is planning other projects as the program expands around the state. You can find out more about VDOT’s Pollinator Habitat Program here http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/pollinator_habitat_program.asp.

You can start your own pollinator welcome center at home, at school, at your business and just about anywhere. Mark your calendar for the April 23 Loudoun Wildlife Native Plant sale at Morven Park and go to our website, www.loudounwildlife.org for events and information about Monarch butterflies and other species.

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By Joe Coleman

While bird migration occurs year-round, from late April through early June millions of birds migrate through our area. While some of these will stay and nest here, many will continue their journey north. As a result it is possible to find and observe over a 100 species of birds in a single day. To celebrate this phenomenon the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is presenting a great program on warblers, the “jewels” of the eastern forests, holding a number of bird walks, and sponsoring a Birdathon.

Identifying and Learning about the Warblers of the Mid-Atlantic Region — Tuesday, May 3, 7:00 p.m. Morven Park. Linda Friedland, Jim Nelson, and Mike Bowen, all past presidents of the Montgomery County northern_parula_apr11Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, will give an updated version of their popular workshop presentation, “Warblers of Maryland.” The presentation covers nearly every warbler species that breeds in or migrates through Maryland, Virginia and the other Mid-Atlantic States, stressing those that can be found locally and generally arranging them in the order in which they usually arrive in the state. Identification pointers and songs of birds in the spring are emphasized. The presentation uses high-resolution photos taken by some of North America’s finest nature photographers and song tracks from the Stokes Bird Song series.

Celebrate Birds, Go Birding! — Loudoun Wildlife sponsors a series of walks (all start at 8:00 a.m. unless otherwise noted) in many of Loudoun’s birdiest locations. Join us for one or more of the following walks (registration required for all but Banshee Reeks on the 14th):

- Morven Park on May 1; led by Nicole Hamilton & Dori Rhodes. Not only is Morven Park the place that Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy calls home, its 1,000 acres include the Ridge Loop trail, a lowland trail aptly named the Wood Thrush trail, and lots of fields and meadows. In spring wonderful neo-tropical birds are heard and seen: Scarlet Tanagers, warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, kinglets, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, Wild Turkeys, chickadees, nuthatches and other woodland and grassland species.

- The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship on May 7; led by Joe Coleman and Gerry Hawkins. The center’s 895 acres has vernal pools, meadows, ponds, streams and a rich oak-hickory forest. Located in northwestern Loudoun County, the center not only borders the Appalachian Trail, it is only a couple of miles from the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and serves as a wonderful sanctuary for Loudoun’s wildlife.

- Beagle Club/Institute Farm on Wednesday, May 11; led by Emily Southgate and Linda Millington. We have special permission to visit the Institute Farm, the home of the National Beagle Club of North America, and on the National Register of Historic Places. The farm’s brushy, scrubby intermediate habitat, bordered by mature forests, is home to many thicket-loving bird species. This group will also visit a nearby large farm which includes a large pond and extensive fields.

- Camp Highroad on Friday, May 13; led by Christine Perdue and Linda Millington. Southwestern Loudoun includes many large farms that include both extensive fields and rich woodlands through which Goose Creek and its many tributaries flow. In the spring it is home to a number of nesting birds as well as many migrants.

- Banshee Reeks on Saturday, May 14; led by Jane Yocom and Dori Rhodes. Banshee Reeks was established as a nature preserve in 1999. Its 725 acres include a variety of nature trails that are great for birding. In addition to a mile of Goose Creek frontage, Banshee has a great diversity of habitats ranging from wetlands and ponds to mixed hardwood forests of oak and hickory to wonderful meadows laden with milkweed, goldenrod and thistle.

- The Birdiest Time of The Year: Meet Your Birds! Saturday, May 14, 9:00-11:00 a.m., Algonkian Regional Park. Join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and local birders Bill & Della Brown for this special International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) event just for kids and their parents. We’ll make it easy for you! We’ll point out the birds as you enjoy a morning stroll along the Potomac River. See and hear the birds which travel through our area during this special spring migration. Registration required: Space is limited to 15 children, ages 5+, with accompanying adult(s). No strollers or pets. Scout groups are welcome.

Registration required for all but Banshee Reeks: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

Birdathon: Help raise money for birds in Loudoun County and have fun at the same time!

Two Ways to Participate:
1) Be a Birdathoner
- Register on the website at http://loudounwildlife.org/IMBD.htm
- Gather pledges from friends, family, neighbors
- Select your 24-hour count period between May 1 & May 15
- Conduct your count identifying as many species as possible
- Follow up with your sponsors to collect their pledges by June 12
2) Be a Sponsor
- Want to support the Birdathon but don’t have time to gather pledges? Consider making your own pledge.
- You can make a flat contribution to the Birdathon, itself, or sponsor a team and challenge them to find as many species as they can!

More information on our website at http://loudounwildlife.org/IMBD.htm

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Because 23 of us showed up for regular monthly bird walk at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve Saturday morning we decided to split into two groups, one led by Joe Coleman and Jane Yocom & ably assisted by Elliott Bernard, and the other by Dori Rhodes and Elliott and Nancy Kirschbaum. While it was drizzling when we were parking that quickly abated and we had a fun morning birding.

The highlights of the 43 species observed included a Woodcock flushed by one of the groups, First of Season (for most of us) Tree Swallows seen by both groups, a surprisingly large number of Eastern Towhees, many of which were singing, lots of Field Sparrows, 2 Brown Creepers, a Fox Sparrow, and both kinglet species. Like last month, the most plentiful birds seen were the Ring-billed Gulls, estimated at 750, which kept steaming overhead in the direction of the next-door county landfill. In spite of trying none of us were able to pick out any other kind of gull in that stream of birds. DWMP_Tree_Swallows_20110612_3
For a complete list of the birds observed at Banshee Reeks please see the eBird report below.

The regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature preserve is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (www.loudounwildlife.org) & the Friends of Banshee Reeks (www.bansheereeks.org ); information on both and their upcoming events can be found on their websites.

When we showed up for the regular monthly bird walk at Banshee Reeks yesterday morning we were shocked to find that clearing for the paved & realigned Woods Road that one uses to access Banshee Reeks has begun. While many of us have known that this was going to happen for years in spite of efforts from many of us to derail it or at least mitigate its impact, it was pretty upsetting to see a large strip of mature hardwoods clear-cut on the northern edge of Banshee.

A few of us went home past the Dulles Wetlands and stopped for a few minutes to observe the Bald Eagle sitting in its nest (I think for the 8thyear in a row).

Good birding!
Joe Coleman

Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve – MFF08, Loudoun, Virginia, US Mar 12, 2016 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s)

43 species:

Canada Goose 12
Wood Duck 1
Black Vulture 9
Turkey Vulture 16
Cooper’s Hawk 1
Bald Eagle 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Woodcock 1
Ring-billed Gull 750
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 6
Mourning Dove 5
Red-bellied Woodpecker 10
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 6
Downy Woodpecker 8
Northern Flicker 8
Pileated Woodpecker 2
Eastern Phoebe 3
Blue Jay 15
American Crow 15
Fish Crow 8
Tree Swallow 3
Carolina Chickadee 12
Tufted Titmouse 8
White-breasted Nuthatch 3
Brown Creeper 2
Carolina Wren 4
Golden-crowned Kinglet 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 3
Eastern Bluebird 12
American Robin 25
Northern Mockingbird 12
European Starling 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
Field Sparrow 15
Fox Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 20
White-throated Sparrow 15
Savannah Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 12
Eastern Towhee 15 Male Towhees were singing and moving around on every trail both groups walked on and a few females were seen as well. If anything this number is low.
Northern Cardinal 15
Red-winged Blackbird 7
American Goldfinch 20

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S28125860

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

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Is the suddenly warm weather making you look at your garden and imagine it full of lovely color? This is a great time to start looking at area nurseries, which are opening again, and look at their native plant offerings.

One nursery, Nature by Design, www.nature-by-design.com,  in Alexandria, is even offering a special! If you go on or before March 15, mention the Internet special to get a 15% discount. The offer does not apply to special orders and delivery fees.

Remember, once established, native plants need less water, are better suited to the local area and attract a host of beneficial insects, butterflies and birds.

Happy gardening!

.Blackwater_Falls_area_Senecio_aureus_Golden_Ragwort_20130510-6

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