The VSO annual field trip to Virginia Beach will be held Friday, November 30 through Sunday, December 2, 2018. Trips on Friday, 11/30 are still being planned. There will be a Meet and Greet at 7 on Friday night at the hospitality room on the 12th floor of the hotel. Bring a nibble to share and BYOB. On Saturday, a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) Island 4, the only one open, is scheduled. Participation will be limited to the first 30 to sign up since there is a requirement to pay a security guard to accompany each group of 15. The fee is $10 per person for the cost of the security guard; please bring cash so that the fee can be paid to CBBT Saturday morning. The security information form, which must be filled out by each participant, is available at: http://www.cbbt.com/forms/2011RevisedRESEARCHERBirdingApp.pdf  and must be in my hands by November 15 as I must deliver them to the CBBT 10 days in advance of our visit. Please fill out ONLY page 2 which is headed: Each individual in this Group must provide the following information & email, or mail to me, Lee Adams Box 1671 Fredericksburg, VA 22402. I will fill out the group information that is requested. After we leave the CBBT we will drive to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and continue to Chincoteague. Sunday morning we will visit Back Bay NWR. For additions to the schedule & updates, please check VSO’s website: www.virginiabirds.org/ LODGING: There will be a blocks of rooms available at Comfort Suites Beachfront (VA563) To register for the group rate you must… Click here to continue reading!

17 AUG: UPDATE, TRIP HAS BEEN FILLED, BUT A WAITLIST HAS BEEN STARTED: Friday, August 31, 2018. Meet at 4599 River Shore Road, Portsmouth, VA. Arrive at Craney Island at 7:45 to enter the compound at 8.We will have 15 minutes to sign-in and listen to a safety announcement. Trip around Craney Island will be from 8 until 11:30 and we will be following one leader and stopping where they choose. Carpooling is required. Please wear closed-toe shoes to the Craney Island trip as the Army Corps of Engineers is requiring. Please do not arrive before 7:30 and do not park in driveways, either private or the one for Craney, or on any grassy areas. Limit of 25 people. Here are some words from the Army Corps of Engineers: RESTROOMS: A restroom will be available to use at the start and end of the visit. PARKING:  Parking will be available on Craney Island for any "non-carpool" cars once the group is granted entrance by the visit lead(s).  Craney Island is a secure government site and its Project Office is located on a residential street.  When you arrive, please do not block the gated entranceway, residents' driveways, or park in the grassy areas. ENTRY TO CRANEY:  It is important to know that early arrival will not permit early entry.  Please plan to arrive no earlier than 30 minutes prior to your visit start time.  If your group could have more than 10 cars, please consider selecting a location nearby to meet and then travel to Craney as a group.  This will ensure prompt arrival to your visit, easy entry and parking, and minimal interruption to the street traffic and residents. Click here to continue reading!

The June 15-17, 2018, VSO field trip to the South Boston area was a hybrid of traditional summer trips and surveying for breeding birds as part of the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2) project. The south-central area of Virginia is an under-birded region and is in need of more people to cover some of the blocks that have previously had few or no checklists submitted.
Very special thanks to local birders, Jeff Blalock and Paul Glass, who invested hours leading trips over the entire weekend. The success we experienced would not have been possible without their fantastic commitment and assistance.
Our group of 28 dedicated birders made a very positive impact, as we focused on covering as many blocks as possible by dividing into small groups throughout the weekend. We covered 16 blocks (5 Priority) across all locations and groups, with 90 species tallied for the weekend and 55 species recorded as Confirmed or Probable.
Highlights included:  An unforgettable visit on Friday after our afternoon field trips concluded to the home of a Halifax County resident who has active Purple Martin houses. We were able to view the hatchlings and enjoy a very educational presentation as well as refreshments.  Click here to continue reading!

Every fall holds surprises at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, so join us to discover what awaits us on this year’s annual fall VSO trip, September 14-16. Last we tallied 120 species, including a terrific combination of waterfowl, shorebirds and migrating songbirds.  TRIP REGISTRATION : To help us plan for the weekend, please register in advance. Provide the names of participants in your party with your mobile number and email address so we can contact you if needed. Register with Meredith Bell, trip coordinator, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824-4958. If you’re also registering for one of the bus trips to Wash Flats (see below), be sure to state your preferred day.  HEADQUARTERS: The Refuge Inn on Beach Road in Chincoteague will be the host hotel (800-544-8469 or 757-336-5511).  Room rates for Friday and Saturday nights are $114.75 (plus tax) per night for a single or a double room, minimum two night stay. For those arriving a day early or staying an extra day, the rate for Thursday and Sunday nights will be $102.00. The Refuge Inn is non-smoking and no pets are allowed. To assure the VSO rate, make reservations by August 14 and state you are with the VSO when you call.  MEALS:  Meals are on your own. The Refuge Inn offers a complimentary continental breakfast for guests and will open early for us for breakfast at 7:00am. Chincoteague is known for its fine dining and you will be able to choose from any number of excellent restaurants.  Click here to continue reading!

Fifteen years ago, if you’d told hospital administrator Eve Gaige she would soon befriend an 11-year-old boy and co-found what is now Virginia’s largest and most active youth birding club, she would have dismissed you as a lunatic. For one thing, the 69-year-old lived in New York. For another, aside from a passing admiration for such nameless species as happened across her path, she knew zilch about birding. Then she moved to Palmyra in 2006. Shortly thereafter, a bluebird swooped into her yard and lit upon a nearby tree limb. Like a mythic bolt of lightning, its appearance rewired Gaige’s world. “That was definitely my Spark Bird,” she says with a reverent sigh. “I was hooked instantaneously.” Likening the experience to “waking up,” she adds she “realized there was all this world around me” and was “extremely excited to learn about it.” Indeed. Within a matter of days, Gaige had purchased books, put out feeders, and was actively trying to identify birds. Researching local birding groups, she discovered the Monticello Bird Club. By 2009, she was a regular at meetings, fieldtrips and walks. After naming a rare Life Bird — she doesn’t remember which one — Gaige was approached by Gabriel Mapel, whom she recalls as an “adorably precocious young birder.” Hearing of her achievement, the 11-year-old was thrilled. “He’d prepared questions to ask about the bird and sought me out,” says Gaige with a laugh. However, she wasn’t laughing for long. Mapel’s adult-like professionalism, seriousness and scientific mode of inquiry...Click here to continue reading!

Since discovering birding in 2014, husband and wife super-duo Guy and Susan Babineau have become some of the VABBA2’s most active supporters. These days, most weekends find husband and wife Guy and Susan Babineau slipping out of bed and hitting the road before dawn. Whether by cycle or by foot, these two love to spend their free mornings exercising in Albemarle County while birding for the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas. “Our children are in college and high school, and we typically get home before they’ve made it out of the bed,” says Susan, 53, with a laugh. The Babineaus’ method came as a creative solution to time constraints. Between parenting, careers and other obligations, their schedule wouldn’t allow for both still-birding and immersive exercise. Rather than forego one in favor of the other, they opted to combine the two. Initially, the couple thought the merger might lead to sacrifices in quality. Wouldn’t frequent bird stops while hiking be interruptive? Are we really going to be able to spot birds while cycling along a winding mountain road? However, the worries proved unfounded. “In truth, the approach has afforded us some unforeseen benefits and a few delightful advantages,” says Guy, 54, an engineer with Northrop Grumman Corporation. For instance, hiking and biking enables the Babineaus to cover more ground and reach areas they wouldn’t encounter otherwise. Daily exercise routines mean favorite spots are visited with greater frequency and can therefore be observed over long periods of time...Click here to continue reading!

Late Breaking News!!! The VSO and Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) are jointly offering a field trip to The Nature Conservancy’s Piney Grove Preserve, site of nesting Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers. Bart Paxton from the CCB will be our leader. We are given access to this protected site through CCB’s support and the cooperation of The Nature Conservancy. In recent years we have had good views of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, nestlings and nest sites. We will assemble at 5:15 A.M. in the morning on June 2 at the Virginia Diner in Wakefield and leave in time to catch sunrise at the nest site. Because of the sensitive nature of this area, we are limited in the number of participants who can go in at one time (20 people). We may need to carpool as parking is limited on the site. This field trip will end mid to late morning. Contact Lee Adams at leeloudenslageradams@gmail.comor 540-850-0777 to register for the trip.  Click here to continue reading!

Have you made plans to attend the 2018 VSO Annual Meeting yet? You won’t want to miss this year’s exciting meeting in the beautiful mountain and valley region of western Virginia. The field trips will provide great opportunities to see unique high elevation breeding species AND support the Second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2). Saturday field trips will focus on under-atlased areas of Rockingham and Highland counties that overlap with birding hotspots. Sunday field trips will go to local birding hotspots, as always. Expert atlas volunteers and field trip leaders will guide you on Saturday and Sunday. Plan on finding some of the birds in Virginia’s Mountains and Valleys Region that you don’t see often and learn more about breeding bird behavior. See below for more details on all of the field trips. The cost of all field trips is included in the registration fee. We are excited to have Nathan Pieplow as our keynote speaker on Saturday at the banquet. His presentation ‘Listen to Her Sing,’ dispels the widespread notion that only male birds sing and explores the often-overlooked songs of female birds. Nathan is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds (Eastern Region), which was published in March 2017. He teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Nathan has agreed to lead a field trip exploring female bird songs on Sunday morning; spots on this field trip will be raffled. Friday evening there will be a short business meeting followed by a presentation on area field trips. The brand new Hotel Madison... Click Here To Continue Reading!

Join us June 15-17 in South Boston for VSO’s summer field trip to south-central Virginia! We’re working with Dr. Ashley Peele, State Coordinator for the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2), to schedule our next three summer field trips in under-birded areas of Virginia. We welcome your eyes and ears as we search for signs of breeding birds in Halifax and Mecklenburg Counties. TRIP REGISTRATION: To help us plan for the weekend, please register in advance. Provide the names of participants in your party with a telephone number and email address so we can contact you if needed. Register with Meredith Bell, trip coordinator, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824-4958.  HEADQUARTERS: The Quality Inn in South Boston is the host hotel. The special rate for the VSO block of rooms is $82/night (plus tax) for King and $85/night (plus tax) for 2 Queens, for one or two occupants. There are microwaves and refrigerators in all rooms. Register by Tuesday, MAY 15, and mention VSO to get the special rate: (434) 572-4311. Hotel address is 2001 Seymour Drive, South Boston, VA 24592  MEALS: A complimentary hot breakfast buffet is included with your stay, beginning at 7:00AM on Saturday and Sunday. You’ll need to bring snacks, beverages and lunch for Saturday because we will be out all day. Dinners are on your own.  SCHEDULE: Field trips will be held: Friday, June 15 – afternoon only, Saturday, June 16 – all day, Sunday, June 17 – morning only. Click here to continue reading!

The box building/erecting phase of the Kestrel Project is nearing an end.  Our goal of 400 boxes has been reached.  Our total as of now stands at 455 boxes in 44 counties.  There is enough wood left from the original white cedar purchase for another 25 or so. We do not plan any more truckload long distance trips, but might still put up some boxes here and there when feasible.  We’ve been fortunate to enlist some eager and capable helpers in northern VA, and will be supplying them with more boxes.  Our highest concentration of boxes is in Highland County, the Shenandoah Valley, and Piedmont counties just east of the Blue Ridge.  It’s been interesting to note the encroachment of development into traditional farming areas and the proliferation of vineyards all over the state, both bad news for kestrels.  However, much good habitat remains.  One very rewarding aspect of the project has been the interest and enthusiasm shown by rural folks, many of whom were unaware of what a kestrel is.  We were hardly ever turned down for a box placement when knocking on doors.  It’s been great to be able to promote the VSO and habitat preservation. We always ask hosts to report back to us any activity with their box, and not surprisingly, few do. But some folks do, and we hope more will.  Some have reported starlings initially occupying their box, only to have kestrels the following year. On Feb. 15th we celebrated placement of the 450th kestrel box at an organic vineyard (one of few in the Eastern US) in Albemarle County - see photos below.. Click here to continue reading!

We added more raving fans (and future attendees) at the February 2-4, 2018 annual VSO field trip to the Outer Banks! With the combined eyes and ears of 85 participants, we tallied 133 species and had a fabulous time, despite the sometimes-adverse weather conditions. Our trip leaders Lee Adams, Bill Akers, Jerry Via and yours truly added to the enjoyment by ensuring that everyone got to see as many species as possible.  The popular trip to Lake Mattamuskeet on Friday included excellent looks at a cooperative Great-Horned Owl. Also impressive was a stream of 100s of Canada Geese flying overhead – their formation and accompanying “honks” made for an amazing experience. As usual, the impoundments held an abundance and variety of waterfowl, including a Eurasian Wigeon that a few were able to spot.  Saturday morning we divided into two groups to visit Oregon Inlet and Pea Island. A nesting Great-Horned Owl (on the platform of an abandoned Osprey nest) was a special treat at Oregon Inlet, and the Black-crowned Night Herons were in their usual spot behind the rear parking lot. At Pea Island the sunny skies made the views of the waterfowl spectacular - including Redhead, Cavasback, Lesser Scaup, 80+ American Avocets and 40+ White Pelicans huddled together on a single sandbar. After lunch the winds had died down, and we had a wonderful time birding on Jennette’s Pier. Species spotted there included Dovekie, Razorbill, Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, Common and Red-throated Loon, Eared and Horned Grebe, and Northern Gannet. Click here to continue reading!

What:  The VSO is engaged in a multi-year monitoring project to record avian biodiversity abundance on farms and preserved lands in the Dajabón province of the Dominican Republic.  The undertaking is a partnership with Virginia NGO Earth Sangha, whose work enhances native biodiversity by supporting sustainable land management in the project area (http://www.earthsangha.org/tree-bank).  The data that VSO volunteers gather in the project area is provided to Earth Sangha to enhance their conservation planning.  The VSO is offering a funded opportunity for a student to be a full partner in the field during the project’s second round of data collection, occurring in winter break of 2017-2018.  Through participating in field work the student will gain a more complete awareness of the environmental challenges in the Dominican Republic, an increased familiarity with the country’s birds and their habitat requirements, and a better understanding of the conservation needs of migrants shared by Virginia and the Dominican Republic.  Participants will use their birding skills to record avian biodiversity in multiple sites within the project area and assist in delivering the final data set to Earth Sangha. Shortly after returning from the trip, the scholarship recipient will provide the VSO with 1) a brief article describing the trip to be published in the subsequent VSO newsletter and 2) a longer scholarly text providing a scientific analysis to be published in the VSO’s scientific journal The RavenWhere:  Dajabón province, Dominican Republic, along the Haiti border... Click Here to Continue Reading!

The 2017 monitoring season of Highland County American Kestrel Nesting Boxes started with the first monitoring round on April 16.  The regions of Highland County are divided into parts, one consisting of the Blue Grass Valley (BGV) boxes which is the core story area of the Blue Grass Valley Monitoring Project, and the other consisting of the remaining boxes in the county which are not located in thBlue Grass Valley.  There are 38 boxes in the BGV Study and 14 in the rest of the County. The boxes within the BGV study area are monitored more frequently at an interval of every 10 days or so, and they are cleaned out at the end of the season.  Cleaning out the boxes and examining their contents can reveal much about what happened inside that box.  By examining eggs that are non-viable and by analyzing the contents of the box and examining pellets inside the box, you can learn what prey the birds were eating, what remains are left in the box and possibly what happened to eggs that did not hatch.  Also, we are providing next year’s box occupant with a cleaner box, removing dead debris and placing new wood chips in to prevent rolling eggs. Of the 38 boxes in the BGV study area, 15 of them (or about 39%) produced fledglings. I approximated by visual observation that these 15 boxes produced 56 birds, which is a low estimate.   Without actually seeing the young birds after they fledged, it is impossible to come up with an accurate number, but this approximation yields about 3.7 birds per box.  It is important to remember that number of birds fledged... Click Here to Continue Reading!

The VSO annual field trip to Virginia Beach will be held Friday, December 1 through Sunday, December 3, 2017. A trip to Craney Island on Friday morning will run from 9 until 12:30. On Saturday, a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) is planned. As Islands 1 & 2 will be closed, we will be visiting Islands 3 & 4. The last trip of the weekend will be a tram ride at Back Bay NWR and False Cape State Park on Sunday morning. For additions to the schedule & updates, please check VSO’s website: www.virginiabirds.org/  
LODGING:  There will be a blocks of rooms available at Comfort Suites Beachfront (VA563) To register for the group rate you must mention the Virginia Society of Ornithology. Reserve rooms by Nov 16 for the group rate.Comfort Suites Beachfront (VA563) 2321 Atlantic Avenue Virginia Beach, VA 23451   (757) 491-2400/ FAX (757) 491-8204  $74 + tax. Reserve by November 16.  http://www.comfortsuites.com/hotel-virginia_beach-virginia-VA563 FRIDAY MORNING/FRIDAY AFTERNOON: A trip to Craney Island will run from 9 until 12:30 Friday morning. Please do not arrive before 8:40 as per instructions from the Army Corps of Engineer liaison. Come prepared to car pool with 3 or 4 people per vehicle. Please bring FRS radios that will tune to Channel 4, if you have them... Click Here to Continue Reading!

Make plans to join us for the VSO’s Winter field trip at the Outer Banks of North Carolina February 2-4, 2018! The weekend’s leaders include Bill Akers and Jerry Via, as well as VSO field trip co-chairs Lee Adams and Meredith Bell. We always have great waterfowl, shorebirds and raptors, along with a wide assortment of land birds. TRIP REGISTRATION: To help us plan for the weekend, please register in advance. Provide the names of participants in your party with a telephone number and email address so we can contact you if needed. Register with Meredith Bell, trip coordinator, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824- 4958. The weekend itinerary will be sent via email to all registrants a few days before the trip, and it will also be available at the front desk of the hotel Thursday evening. Important! Please bring FRS (two-way) radios if you have them because this helps us stay in contact in our caravans when calling out bird sightings. HEADQUARTERS: The Comfort Inn South Oceanfront in Nags Head will be the trip headquarters again. There’s a huge deck off the second floor, which offers great beach-viewing opportunities. The special VSO room rate is $72 for oceanfront and $62 for bay-view plus tax. Ocean front rooms are available on a first come, first served basis. The 7 th floor bayside rooms offer a panoramic view of the bay but do not have balconies. The hotel is just two blocks from Jennette’s Pier, a 1,000-foot long, 24-foot wide pier that will allow you to get amazingly close to the ocean birds!  Click Here to Continue Reading!

Each year hundreds of millions of birds are killed by collisions with windows on homes, businesses, university campuses, you name it!  Any structure with reflective glass represents a potential hazard for birds.  Today, most ornithologists agree that window collisions kill more birds than any other anthropogenic cause other than of habitat loss.  At this time of year, birds are especially vulnerable to collisions with windows, as young birds are making their first perilous trek toward distant wintering grounds in the southeastern US, Caribbean, Central and South America.  On this journey, they must navigate through many manmade landscapes offering numerous opportunities for window collisions.  The good news is that this is an issue we can do something about… Researchers at Virginia Tech’s Conservation Management Institute have launched a crowdfunding campaign to support research focused on understanding and mitigating the impact of window collisions on bird populations.  Funds raised by this campaign will support student research experiences for natural resource majors at Virginia Tech.  This campaign seeks not only to better understand a pressing conservation issue, but to provide opportunities for students to gain practical experience in wildlife conservation research.  Using study sites on the Virginia Tech campus and suburbs of Blacksburg, students will assess where, when, and why birds collide with windows, as well as methods for preventing collisions. Most of us can relate to the experience of hearing a bird thud into the windows of our home or office and wonder what we can do to prevent such occurrences... Click Here to continue reading!

VSO Field Trip Report: 15-17 September 2017 - Chincoteague NWR, Accomack County

The weather was beautiful for the VSO field trip to Chincoteague on September 15-17, and the 80 participants reported having a fabulous time! We tallied 120 species, which included birds found on the Causeway, Chincoteague Island and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Many first-timers and new VSO members got several life birds and were assisted by the more experienced attendees.  Many thanks to field trip leaders Jerry Via, Bill Akers, Bob Ake, Mike Schultz, and Meredith Bell, who worked hard to ensure everyone had a great experience. Friday evening we met to overview the weekend, and we enjoyed a very informative presentation by Jerry on the effect of hurricanes on birds. Unfortunately, mosquitoes were at an all-time high on Assateague and the wildlife loop had very few birds, so we made two adjustments to our itinerary.  We moved the Woodland Trail warbler walk to the Island Nature Trail in Chincoteague, where mosquitoes were not a problem. We cancelled the birding and biking trip (for the first time in more than 10 years), and our group joined Bill Akers for the warbler walk. The S-SW winds did not bring in the hoped-for warblers, yet we still had some nice birds on this trail – a family of Red-headed Woodpeckers, an abundance of Brown-headed Nuthatches, several American Redstarts and Northern Parula, and a spectacular look at a Great-Horned Owl. The boat trip was Saturday morning this year because it’s always scheduled around low tide... Click here to continue reading!

Mother Nature delivered beautiful weather and an abundance of birds for the 55 participants in the VSO's field trip to the New River Valley on June 9-11. Many thanks to Bill Akers and Jerry Via, who led the trips and put in many hours in advance checking out the field trip areas to make sure the birds would make an appearance when we arrived. And appear they did, with 103 species (including 18 warbler species) tallied for the 3 days.  We appreciated the donuts and water they provided for us on Saturday, as well as the assistance from several members of the New River Valley Bird Club: Anna Altizer, John Ford, Hailey Olsen-Hodges, Don Mackler, Bill Opengari, and Pat Polentz.  Friday afternoon the entire group traveled to the Biological Station at Mountain Lake and areas around the Lodge. On the way up the mountain on Route 700, we stopped at a magnificent overlook, where we enjoyed scenic views as well as great looks at Chestnut- sided Warbler and Scarlet Tanager. A Red-tailed Hawk glided by, and we had the unique opportunity to observe it from above AND below. Some lucky folks got glimpses of a Golden-winged Warbler.  In our walk around the Biological Station, we found Blue-headed Vireo, Blackburnian Warbler, Least Flycatcher, Cedar Waxwing, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Dark-eyed Junco. At Mountain Lake we heard a Canada Warbler and Wood Thrush songs and saw Black-throated Blue Warbler, Veery and Hairy Woodpecker... Click Here To Continue Reading!

Every fall is different at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, so join us to discover the surprises that await us on this year’s annual fall VSO trip, September 15-17. Last year we tallied 129 species, including a terrific combination of waterfowl, shorebirds and migrating songbirds.  TRIP REGISTRATION: To help us plan for the weekend, please register in advance. Provide the names of participants in your party with your mobile number and email address so we can contact you if needed. Register with Meredith Bell, trip coordinator, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824- 4958. If you’re also registering for one of the bus trips to Wash Flats (see below), be sure to state your preferred day.  HEADQUARTERS:  The Refuge Inn on Beach Road in Chincoteague will be the host hotel (800-544- 8469 or 757-336- 5511). Room rates are $114.75 (plus tax) per night for a single or a double room, minimum two night stay. For those arriving a day early or staying an extra day, the rate for Thursday and Sunday nights will be $102. The Refuge Inn is non-smoking and no pets are allowed. To assure the VSO rate, make reservations by August 15 and state you are with the VSO when you call.  MEALS:  Meals are on your own. The Refuge Inn offers a complimentary continental breakfast for guests and will open early for us for breakfast at 7:00am. Chincoteague is known for its fine dining and you will be able to choose from any number of excellent restaurants.  CHECK-IN:  Check-in time is 4:00pm. After you check in at the hotel on Friday, be sure to pick up a schedule of events... Click Here to Continue Reading!

NOTE: THIS FIELD TRIP IS NOW FULL (AS OF 16 JUN 2017). TO BE PLACED ON THE WAIT LIST, PLEASE EMAIL LEE ADAMS AT THE LINK PROVIDED BELOW. 
Meet at 4599 River Shore Road, Portsmouth, VA. Arrive at 7:30 to enter the compound at 7:45. Craney Island We will have 15 minutes to sign-in and listen to a safety announcement. Trip around Craney Island will be from 8 until 11 and we will be following one leader and stopping where they choose. Carpooling is required. Please wear closed-toe shoes to the Craney Island trip as the Army Corps of Engineers is requiring. Please do not arrive before 7:30 and do not park in driveways, either private or the one for Craney, or on any grassy areas. Limit of 25 people. Due to expected construction this date may be changed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Contact Lee Adams to register at leeloudenslageradams@gmail.com or 540-850-0777VERY Important! All VSO field trips will have a registration fee of $20 for NON-members only. This fee will be applied to an individual membership that will be active until the end of 2017. If 2 or more people from the same family register, the registration fee will be $25, which covers a family membership. Groups of students accompanied by their instructor are exempt from this fee. Non-members can join in advance at http://www.virginiabirds.org/membership-and-donate/ or pay the registration fee on the first evening of the event... Click Here to Continue Reading!

On Friday morning, April 21, 23 VSO members met at Craney Island for a field trip. Bill Williams and Mitchell Byrd of CVWO, led the caravan.  Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory supports the on-going survey which continues Ruth Beck's long-standing conservation and education efforts at Craney Island and several other coastal Virginia sites. http://www.cvwo.org/. Black-necked Stilts, Dunlin, Dowitchers and Yellowlegs awaited us at the first stop, an impoundment cell on the south side. Jason Strickland did an awesome job of keeping the eBird list. Clark Schweigaard Olsen drove Bob Ake with his broken leg to the best possible spots to see birds from the truck. A pair of American Oystercatchers shared a rock jetty with an immature Bald Eagle. American Avocets leisurely fed at another cell. A Peregrine Falcon was spotted surveying the shorebird lunch buffet. A Least Tern flew in and patrolled back and forth, perhaps looking for the best nesting spot. Northern Shovelers, Ruddy Ducks, Gadwall and Blue & Green-winged Teal tried to keep as much distance between us and them as possible. A Horned Grebe and a Red-throated Loon were seen out toward the I-664 bridge/tunnel. All too soon the field trip was over. Some folks decided to visit Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve a mile, or two, away. A Hooded Warbler teased with its song but rewarded Kathy Louthan's persistence with a pose or two for her camera. Among many other finds at Hoffler Creek were a Black and White Warbler, an Ovenbird and a Red-eyed Vireo...Click Here To Continue Reading!

The VSO-co-sponsored 2nd Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2) is a great opportunity to engage students, as well as birders, with wildlife conservation and to provide chances for learning more about bird identification and behavior.  To that end, we are encouraging professors and students from around Virginia to consider how they might like to get involved with the VABBA2.  This spring, I had the chance to work with Jessy Wilson, a student at Bridgewater College, and her Ornithology professor, Dr. Robyn Puffenbarger.  Jessy decided to focus her Ornithology honors project on the Atlas project and we worked up a specific project for her, documenting nocturnal species.  She wrote a great article about her experience, so enjoy…Click Here To Continue Reading!

TO REGISTER, PLEASE GO HERE: http://www.virginiabirds.org/annual-meeting-registration/Richmond Audubon Society will be hosting the 2017 Virginia Society of Ornithology Annual meeting at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel and Conference Center from May 5 – 7. Speakers at this year’s event include a kick-off presentation by Dr. Ashley Peele about the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 on Friday night. Our keynote speaker for Saturday evening’s banquet will be Jennifer Ackerman, author and naturalist, who recently published her new book The Genius of Birds. Registration for the Annual Meeting is available online at the VSO website (here: http://www.virginiabirds.org/annual-meeting-registration/) or by mailing a check with the registration form found in the VSO newsletter.  Prices per person are: registration $40, banquet $40, and raffle for a pair of Zeiss Optics binoculars $5. The Wyndham Virginia Crossings hotel is located at 1000 Virginia Center Parkway, Glen Allen, Virginia.  We have negotiated a special rate for the Annual Meeting weekend.  Single occupancy rooms with breakfast for one included (at the restaurant’s breakfast buffet) is $124 per night, and double occupancy rooms with breakfast for two included is $134 per night.  To get the group rate, call (804) 727-1400 or 1-888-444-6553 and identify yourself as a member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology group to get the reduced rate.  If you want to register online, use this link to get the reduced rate: https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/groups/virginia-society-of-ornithology-2017-annual-meeting.   Be sure to register with the hotel before April 12, 2017... Click Here To Continue Reading!

 Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Photographed 2016 by Lisa Rose

Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Photographed 2016 by Lisa Rose

The VSO and Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) are jointly offering a field trip to The Nature Conservancy’s Piney Grove Preserve, site of nesting Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers. Bryan Watts from the CCB will be our leader. We are given access to this protected site through CCB’s support and the cooperation of The Nature Conservancy. In recent years we have had good views of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, nestlings and nest sites. We will assemble at 5:15 A.M. in the morning on May 27 at the Virginia Diner in Wakefield and leave in time to catch sunrise at the nest site. Because of the sensitive nature of this area, we are limited in the number of participants who can attend. (20 people). We will need to carpool as parking is limited on the site. This field trip will end mid to late morning. Contact Lee Adams to register at leeloudenslageradams@gmail.com or 540-850-0777VERY Important! All VSO field trips will have a registration fee of $20 for NON-members only. This fee will be applied to an individual membership that will be active until the end of 2017. If 2 or more people from the same family register, the registration fee will be $25, which covers a family membership. Groups of students accompanied by their instructor are exempt from this fee. Non-members can join in advance at http://www.virginiabirds.org/membership-and-donate/ or pay the registration fee on the first evening of the event... Click Here to Continue Reading!

NOTE: THIS FIELD TRIP IS NOW FULL (AS OF 22 MAR 2017). 
Meet at 4599 River Shore Road, Portsmouth, VA. Arrive at 7:30 to enter the compound at 7:45. Craney Island We will have 15 minutes to sign-in and listen to a safety announcement. Trip around Craney Island will be from 8 until 11 and we will be following one leader and stopping where they choose. Carpooling is required. Please wear closed-toe shoes to the Craney Island trip as the Army Corps of Engineers is requiring. Please do not arrive before 7:30 and do not park in driveways, either private or the one for Craney, or on any grassy areas. Limit of 25 people. Due to expected construction this date may be changed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Contact Lee Adams to register at leeloudenslageradams@gmail.com or 540-850-0777VERY Important! All VSO field trips will have a registration fee of $20 for NON-members only. This fee will be applied to an individual membership that will be active until the end of 2017. If 2 or more people from the same family register, the registration fee will be $25, which covers a family membership. Groups of students accompanied by their instructor are exempt from this fee. Non-members can join in advance at http://www.virginiabirds.org/membership-and-donate/ or pay the registration fee on the first evening of the event... Click Here to Continue Reading!

What a fabulous experience we had February 3-5, 2017, for the annual VSO Outer Banks field trip!  With the combined eyes and ears of 100 participants, we tallied a record-setting 155 species. Among these were several rarities: Manx Shearwater, Dovekie, Trumpeter Swan, Anna’s Hummingbird, Eurasian Wigeon, Anhinga, Lark Sparrow, Brewer’s Blackbird and Loggerhead Shrike. We also had an amazing number of Sparrow (11) and Wren (5) species. In addition to the rarities, highlights at Lake Mattamuskeet included up-close looks of an American Woodcock and Wilson’s Snipe. The impoundments always astonish us with an abundance of waterfowl, and this year was no different. Those who joined Lee Adams at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge at dusk to listen for Short-eared Owls scored a big success. On Saturday many participants braved the strong winds and cold temperatures to visit nearby Jennette’s Pier twice – first thing in the morning and after lunch. We were rewarded with dozens of fly-by Razorbills, Red-breasted Mergansers, Northern Gannets and Black Scoters. In the water we spotted Horned Grebe and Red-throated Loon as well as a lone female Common Eider. At Pea Island we found several American White Pelicans and more than 100 American Avocets. We gathered at Bodie Island Lighthouse in the late afternoon, where we enjoyed diverse species of waterfowl in the impoundments. Many had good looks at a Sora, Clapper Rail, and Marsh Wren. More than 30 people stayed after dark to listen for owls, and...Click Here To Continue Reading!

What:  The VSO is engaged in a multi-year monitoring project to record avian biodiversity abundance on farms and preserved lands in the Dajabón province of the Dominican Republic.  The undertaking is a partnership with Virginia NGO Earth Sangha, whose work enhances native biodiversity by supporting sustainable land management in the project area (http://www.earthsangha.org/tree-bank).  The data that VSO volunteers gather in the project area is provided to Earth Sangha to enhance their conservation planning.  The VSO is offering a funded opportunity for a student to be a full partner in the field during the project’s second round of data collection, occurring in winter break of 2017-2018.  Through participating in field work the student will gain a more complete awareness of the environmental challenges in the Dominican Republic, an increased familiarity with the country’s birds and their habitat requirements, and a better understanding of the conservation needs of migrants shared by Virginia and the Dominican Republic.  Participants will use their birding skills to record avian biodiversity in multiple sites within the project area and assist in delivering the final data set to Earth Sangha. Shortly after returning from the trip, the scholarship recipient will provide the VSO with 1) a brief article describing the trip to be published in the subsequent VSO newsletter and 2) a longer scholarly text providing a scientific analysis to be published in the VSO’s scientific journal The RavenWhere:  Dajabón province, Dominican Republic, along the Haiti border. How much:  $1,200.  These funds will offset costs for airfare, lodging, and meals.  Logistics will be arranged by the VSO and Earth Sangha.  The scholarship recipient will be responsible for... Click Here to Continue Reading!

The New River Valley Bird Club will host the VSO summer field trip June 9-11, 2017, featuring some of the best birding areas in the New River Valley and Southern Appalachians. The varied topography and the river valley offer a wide variety of habitats and bird species. Field trips will be offered Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning. Bill Akers and Jerry Via will be our trip leaders, and they have organized some terrific activities for us! TRIP REGISTRATION: To help us plan for the weekend, please register in advance. Provide the names of participants in your party with a telephone number and email address so we can contact you if needed. Register with Meredith Bell, trip coordinator, at merandlee@gmail.com or 804-824-4958. Please bring FRS (two-way) radios if you have them to stay in contact in our caravans when calling out bird sightings. HEADQUARTERS: Holiday Inn Express and Suites Blacksburg is the host hotel (This is the same hotel as the 2015 trip, now under new ownership). The special rate for the VSO block of rooms is $95/night (plus tax) for single or double. Double and King beds are available, and some suites have pull-out beds. There are microwaves and refrigerators in all rooms. Register by Friday, MAY 8, to get the special rate: (540) 552-5636. Hotel address is 1020 Plantation Road, Blacksburg, VA24060. MEALS: A complimentary hot breakfast buffet is included with your stay, beginning at 6:30 AM on Friday and 7:00AM on Saturday and Sunday. You’ll need to bring lunch for Saturday... Click Here to Continue Reading!

Craney Island in Portsmouth, VA was the site of the kickoff field trip of the annual Virginia Society of Ornithology Virginia Beach weekend. Highlights include a black coyote, Hudsonian Godwit, Snow Buntings, and American Avocets FLOATING in the river. Oh yeah, and the Eurasian Wigeon! Thousands of Double-crested Cormorants streamed by in a long line. Brian Taber and Bill Williams from Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory lent their years of expertise at the site, and led the trip. They survey Craney Island regularly and continue Ruth Beck’s conservation efforts. For more information, check out http://www.cvwo.org. A flock of Snow Buntings appeared beside the car caravan and settled on the ground with Killdeer. Their camouflage is perfect for tan sand and golden grasses, and although the snow was missing, their white did not make it easier to spot them. Thanks go to Shannon Reinheimer of the Army Corps of Engineers for allowing access to, and important information on Craney Island. Later nine of us met Max Lonzanida, park ranger at the Fisherman Island/Eastern Shore of Virginia NWR at Fisherman Island. Due to restrictions on parking the trip was offered to those signed up for the Craney Island trip. The group wandered across the island and out to the beach on the Chesapeake Bay. Brant, Black Scoters and Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers were spotted. A huge whale vertebra, a portion of an Atlantic Sturgeon, and sea turtle ribs were among the artifacts that have been collected by USFW staff to show visitors on...Click Here To Continue Reading!

Snippet from the Ivy Creek Foundation's Posting on the topic: "American Kestrels are disappearing at an alarming rate. Today’s range-wide population is only half of what existed in the 1960s and in some states the species is even listed as State endangered. Perhaps most concerning, no one knows why populations are in such decline despite it being one of the best studied raptors in North America.  Come out to the Ivy Creek Foundation Education Center on Thursday, December 15 at 7 pm for a presentation outlining what we do and do not know about the American Kestrel decline. Dr. Sarah Schulwitz, Assistant Director of the American Kestrel Partnership, will discuss several research recommendations for moving forward for the conservation of this charismatic but declining falcon. Learn more and get involved with the American Kestrel Partnership at kestrel.peregrinefund.org"... Click Here to Continue Reading!

Registration is FULL as of 5 DEC, but for those interested in learning about the goals of this trip, please continue reading: The VSO's April 1-10, 2017 birding trip to Guatemala still has openings. The trip will be guided by Guatemala's leading birding experts, John and Rob Cahill! Experience the spectacular convergence of North America's eastern and western breeding birds as they prepare for northward migration. Where else can you spot a Prothonotary Warbler and an Agami Heron in the same morning? How about a Townsend's and Golden-winged Warbler in the same TREE! Also on the itinerary are visits to Community Cloud Forest Conservation's Agroecology Center and fascinating Mayan archaeological sites (with more birding, of course!). Cost is $1,960 per person for double room occupancy, and $2,660 for singles. Price includes lodging, meals, ground transportation, guide services, and entrance fees to parks and reserves. For inquiries, contact Andrew Dolby by email: adolby[at]umw.edu or phone: 540-654-1420... Click Here to Continue Reading!

Temperatures continue to drop, as Autumn arrives and we wrap-up the first season of the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2).  Two things stand out about this summer’s field season.  First, Virginia is an incredible place to survey birds.  Between the mountains and valleys, the rolling Piedmont, and the rich Coastal Plain, Atlas volunteers identified over 205 species of birds and confirmed 174 of those species are currently breeding.  They reported over 684,000 birds to the project!  Interestingly, most of the data received this year comes from areas where the most people live.  This makes sense!  We tend to bird the areas closest to home first.  However, just think what kind of data will be generated when volunteers expand out into the less birded parts of the state.  There are so many awesome breeding records just waiting to be confirmed in the rural Piedmont or out in the mountains or even in your own neighborhood. The second remarkable thing about this first season is the volunteer birder community that pitched in from all over VA.  By the end of the summer, over 450 volunteers contributed to the Atlas project and despite most data coming from populated areas, volunteers reported great breeding data from many rural parts of the state. Everyone experienced some sort of learning curve, whether it was using eBird to report their data or learning the codes to document bird behavior.  Many volunteers are still new birders and learning much as they go along.  However, Atlasers collectively demonstrated that learning these new tools is... Click Here to Continue Reading!