Make plans to join us for the VSO’s Winter field trip at the Outer Banks of North Carolina January 31-February 2! 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 email@example.com or 804-824-4958. A detailed weekend itinerary will be sent via email to all registrants a few days before the trip. Important! Please bring FRS (two-way) radios if you have them because this helps us stay in contact in our caravans. HEADQUARTERS The Comfort Inn South Oceanfront in Nags Head is again the trip headquarters. There’s a huge deck off the second floor, which offers great beach-viewing opportunities. The special VSO room rate is $75 for oceanfront and $62 for bay-view (plus tax). Ocean front rooms are available on a first come, first served basis. The 7th 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 really close to the ocean birds! Click Here to Continue Reading!
The weather was magnificent for the VSO field trip to Chincoteague on September 20-22, and we tallied 122 species. It was exciting to return after missing last year due to the mandatory evacuation related to the hurricane. We had many first-timers among the 85 participants, and several got at least one life bird. Many thanks to field trip leaders Jerry Via, Bill Akers, Andrew Rapp 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 Via on migration paths and how birds are affected by hurricanes. We made adjustments to the itinerary due to drastic change in habitat at the Woodland Trail and the Wildlife Loop. Also, mosquitoes were brutal, as usual, on Assateague. We changed the Warbler Walk to the Island Nature Trail in Chincoteague, where mosquitoes were not a problem. We cancelled the birding and biking trip around the loop, and those participants joined the trail walk. Thanks to Larry Meade for enhancing Saturday with identification of butterflies and dragonflies, and to Andrew Rapp for co-leading this trip on Sunday. While the southerly winds did not bring in the hoped-for woodland birds, we still had some nice birds over the two mornings – a family of Red-headed Woodpeckers, Brown-headed Nuthatches, several American Redstarts and Northern Parula, a Black-throated Blue Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Click Here to Continue Reading!
Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas Update
The second VA Breeding Bird Atlas is currently wrapping up our fourth field season! This summer, our volunteers made significant strides toward achieving statewide survey of all priority blocks, a key step for accurately assessing the distribution and status of breeding bird populations throughout the Commonwealth. As we look toward our final field season in 2020, several large gaps in rural parts of southwestern and south-central need breeding bird survey coverage. Check out this video to learn more about the project and how you can help us fill these remaining gaps!
You can help the project complete its final year of the breeding bird atlas by providing data in priority blocks and just as importantly in donating to the atlas!
The Frontiers in Ornithology Symposium is a new event for youth ages 13-22 and their mentors. The primary mission of this event will be to focus on ornithology, conservation science and related academic pursuits. The symposium will not focus on birding, bird identification techniques, or listing birds, but instead on cutting-edge technologies being used in avian research and study, careers in ornithology and how to pursue that focus in either higher education, vocationally or avocationally. The goal is to educate and inspire youth to take their passion for birds to a higher level. Join us on September 28th at the Ashland Nature Center in Delaware for a full day of keynotes, speakers, panel discussions, and new friends! The keynote speaker is the renowned author and ornithologist Scott Weidensaul along with two youth speakers: Claire Wayner and Patrick Newcombe. VSO is proud to be a contributing sponsor of this upcoming event for 13 - 22 year olds. Parents and/or mentors are also welcome. For more information: https://www.frontiers-in-ornithology.org
The June 7-9, 2019, VSO field trip to the Northern Neck was a hybrid of traditional summer trips and surveying for breeding birds as part of the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2) project. This area of Virginia is an under-birded region and was in need of more people to cover priority blocks with little data collected to date. The weekend was a great success despite rain on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Thanks to Lauren Cruz, Wildlife Biologist for the Eastern Virginia Rivers National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Friday afternoon we were able to access two units (Tayloe and Belle Mont) normally closed to the public. Light rain started shortly after we arrived at Tayloe but did not deter our enthusiasm and we were rewarded with great looks at Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Yellowthroat, Orchard Oriole and Summer Tanager. Luckily, we moved on to Belle Mont next because this spot had a building with a large front and back porch where we continued birding as the rain became heavier. From this dry vantage point, we were able to confirm evidence of breeding for Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Chipping Sparrow. Before leaving, we organized into 4 teams to cover 4 priority blocks on Saturday. We lucked out on Saturday – it was a beautiful day. Each group thoroughly covered their respective block, and we gathered at the end of the day to share highlights. The enthusiasm of everyone there was rewarding to see and hear! Numbers of species per block that were CONFIRMED ranged from 8 to 14 and PROBABLES from 8 to 26, so we made a significant contribution to data for these priority blocks: Haynesville SE, Machodoc SE, Mount Landing SE and Tappahannock SE. 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 20-22. Last year we had to cancel the trip due to mandatory evacuation in the area for Hurricane Florence, so we’re eager to return for this annual favorite! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 20 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!
Join us June 7-9 in Warsaw for VSO’s summer field trip to the Northern Neck of Virginia! We’re working with Dr. Ashley Peele, State Coordinator for the second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2), to schedule our next summer field trips in under-birded areas of Virginia. We welcome your eyes and ears as we search for signs of breeding birds in Warsaw, Tappahannock and surrounding areas. 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 email@example.com 804-824-4958. HEADQUARTERS The Quality Inn in Warsaw is the host hotel. The special rate for the VSO block of rooms is $109.49/night (plus tax) for King and $119.49/night (plus tax) for 2 Queens, for one or two occupants. There are microwaves and refrigerators in all rooms. Register by Tuesday, MAY 7, and mention VSO to get the special rate: (804) 333-1700. Hotel address is 4522 Richmond Road, Warsaw, VA 22572 MEALS A complimentary hot breakfast buffet is included with your stay, beginning at 6:30AM on Saturday and Sunday. Bring snacks, beverages and lunch for Saturday because we may be out all day. Dinners are on your own… Click Here to Continue Reading!
The New River Valley Bird Club is excited to invite you to the 2019 annual meeting, May 3-5, 2019, at Mountain Lake, Virginia. Mountain Lake has been recognized for many years as a unique ecosystem for birds. With the Mountain Lake Conservancy, an adjacent wilderness area and the Mountain Biological Station nearby, birds have a protected mountain top refuge. With elevations reaching 4,200 feet, there are breeding species of birds not found in nearby Blacksburg, Virginia. Our host will be the Mountain Lake Lodge, formerly Mountain Lake Hotel. The hotel has been under new management for 5 years, and if you have not visited the hotel recently you will be amazed at the improvements. It was voted the 2018 Virginia Hotel of the Year and the manager Heidi Stone was voted the 2018 Best Hotelier in Virginia. Because of the elevation, the cooler temperatures nurture plant communities which are much like those of Northern Pennsylvania and Southern New York. As a result, several unique breeding species are found here. These include Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Least Flycatcher, Veery, Brown Creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a breeding population of Dark-eyed Junco which has been studied for over 30 years, and many species of warblers. There are many other species of migrants and breeding birds on the mountain and surrounding areas. Birding for this weekend should be excellent, because of the elevation, the migrants will be passing through, but most of the leaves will not have emerged. Our field trips will include areas on top of the mountain as well as trips in surrounding areas including Glen Alton which is one of the most interesting birding areas around. Some of the trips will require hiking and there will also be trails for easy walking… Click Here to Continue Reading!
We couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather for the February 1-3, 2019, annual VSO field trip to the Outer Banks! We enjoyed sunny skies, mild winds and moderate temperatures most of the weekend. With the combined eyes and ears of 75 participants, we tallied 141 species. Our trip leaders Lee Adams, Bill Akers, Jerry Via and yours truly worked hard to ensure that everyone got to see as many species as possible. It seems amazing to report that the 2nd most abundant species (after Yellow-rumped Warbler) was RAZORBILL! On Sunday morning, Jerry Via counted almost 2,000 in the ocean just off the hotel, with hundreds more in either direction. We also had great looks at large numbers from Jennette’s pier on Friday and Saturday. An unexpected hot spot was the area behind the Exxon Station in Harbinger, where a Golden-crowned Sparrow (typically found only on the West coast) and a Dicksissel were seen by many. Also spotted there: Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Jennettes’s Pier provided great looks at all 3 species of Scoter and large numbers of Razorbill, Red-throated Loon, and Northern Gannets. Other species included Dovekie, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Loon, and Horned Grebe. A pod of dolphins came close to the pier and in the distance we spotted a whale (identity undetermined) spraying water from its blowhole… 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 1-3, 2019! 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 is again the trip headquarters. There’s a huge deck off the second floor, which offers great beach-viewing opportunities. The special VSO room rate is $75 for oceanfront and $62 for bay-view plus tax. Ocean front rooms are available on a first come, first served basis. The 7th 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…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!
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 Raven. Where: 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!
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!
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!
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 Raven. Where: 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!
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!