On April 24, a group of five headed to the Locher Tract and later, up Petite's Gap to the Parkway to see what was about. Locher was loaded with Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, along with a Great Crested Flycatcher, Louisiana Waterthrush, Red Winged Blackbirds, Blue Headed Vireos and several more of the usual suspects. We decided to drive up Petite's Gap in search of Warblers and weren't disappointed with good looks at a Black Throated Green and the songs of several more. The highlight of that drive may have been the unexpected sound, and sight of a Ruffed Grouse as it left a small clearing on the road just after we stopped to look around. Next week we're thinking perhaps one more try at a lower altitude, unless the canopy fills in a lot more this week. Perhaps the Chessie Trail. We leave from the old K-Mart parking lot at 7, and everyone i
Here is our list from the morning - more or less in order of their appearance;
Great Crested Flycatcher
Red Bellied Woodpecker
White Breasted Nuthatch
Blue Headed Vireo
Yellow Rump Warbler
Black and White Warbler
Black-Throated Green Warbler
The Rockbridge Bird Club will host a potluck dinner at Boxerwood on Wednesday, May 14, from 5:00 to 7:30. You may arrive earlier, at 4:30, for a short tour of some bird-friendly shrubs led by Faith Vosburgh, Boxerwood’s horticulturist. We hope you’ll join us—children and guests welcome, too—to share your birding stories and enjoy the spring beauty of the garden. The potluck will be held at the timber -frame pavilion located near the driveway to the Lodge.
The Club will be providing hamburgers, brats, buns and drinks. We would like to get an accurate count of how many people to expect, and so are asking that you RSVP. We are trying an online program, Sign-Up Genius, where you can RSVP and sign up to bring a dish or assist with the event.
The Bird Club’s Sign-Up Genius page is here. When you click on the link, you will be taken to our potluck page. Here you have 2 options:
1. Create an account with Sign-Up Genius. This requires providing your name, email address, and a password. Your email address and password will remain private. Once you do this, you can RSVP and decide what item you would like to provide for the event. If you change your mind later, your account lets you edit your RSVP or your item. Sign-up Genius will send you an email reminder 2 days before the event.
2. Or, use the Sign-Up Genius page without setting up an account. This option requires entering your name and an email address. Your email address will remain private. Then you may RSVP and enter the item you would like to provide. The downside to this option is that you will not be able to change your RSVP/item as easily if you do not have an account. Instead you can just let Betty Besal know what has changed. Sign-up Genius will send you an email reminder 2 days before the event.
The Sign-Up Genius program is used by thousands of groups to organize their events. The program’s creators are very focused on users’ security. While it may take a little of the spontaneity away from having a potluck, we hope that it will help us better organize and enjoy this event, so we do ask that you give it try. If you have had ENOUGH of doing things online, we understand. In that case, just email Betty Besal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will “pencil” you in.
Questions about the May Potluck or the sign up process? Please contact Betty Besal.
See you there!
So it begins. . . Spring migrants are arriving throughout the county, and for these few days before the trees really leaf out the views can be pretty great. This means sleep deprived birders can be found all over the area, and they're reporting lots of 'first of the season' sightings.
On April 17th a group of us headed to Moore's Creek Reservoir to see what we might find. If you haven't been there its a very nice hike - drive out BlueGrass Trail 1.7 miles past where it changes to gravel, then right on Forest Service Rd 3079 for about a mile to the parking area. Highlights included several warblers (including great views of a number of Black and White's circling the trunks of some oaks), and a Red Shouldered Hawk flying over the water. Here's the list of what we saw and heard;
Red Tail Hawk
Blue Headed Vireo
Black-throated Green Warbler
Red Shouldered Hawk
Red Bellied Woodpecker
Black and White Warbler
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
We're planning to make a regular thing of these Thursday morning outings. We'll let everyone know where we plan to go and when and where we'll meet each week.
Here's a report from Alexia about the club's outing to Brushy Hills on April 19.
A small group met at 7 am at Town Spring and explored for birds, Paul Cabe leading along with his son Lock (founder of the Kids' Bird Club). Below is the list of species heard and/or seen. We were especially delighted to hear a wood thrush singing, first of the season for most of us.
Several times along the trail we heard ovenbirds "teacher"-ing but couldn't find them; as Paul remarked, they tend to stay still while singing and, without movement, are hard to spot. Then, towards the end of our walk, Lock saw an ovenbird perched on a branch, not making a sound, moving only its head as it occasionally looked around! The rest of us were one by one able to pick it out against the dry-leaves background.
Broad-winged hawkRed-tailed hawk
Downy woodpecker (including a pair foraging together)
Blue-headed vireo (heard)
Black-throated green warbler (heard)
Dick Rowe has also reported on some late week birding;
I did a little birding on Thurs and Friday afternoons. On Thursday I visited Old Farm Rd Pond and Sky Farm (both are private spots). At OFRP, there were 3 female Ring-necked Ducks, several Swamp Sparrows, 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers, lots of Tree and Rough-winged Swallows, and 2 Pied-billed Grebes. The grebes are interesting because in 2011 a pair nested there. Go to this link and scroll down to see the photos of the PBGR at OFRP. They represent one of the few, nesting records for PBGR in the mountains and valley region of VA.
On Thrus, Kerry Kilday located a White-eyed Vireo at McCormick’s Farm. I went up there this afternoon to look for it. I found it along the nature trail where it parallels Marl Creek. There were a number of Ruby-crowned Kinglets there and a single Solitary Sandpiper at the back pond, which is now full. Kerry found 3 SOSA there yesterday. In addition there were several Blue-gray Gnatchers there. Last weekend I found 2 Purple Finches there, but none were seen or heard today.
I’ve posted some photos of the White-eyed Vireo, Swamp Sparrows, and Pied-billed Grebes on the Flickr site, if you are interested.
After completing Donna Finnegan's 'Birding by Ear 101' on April 8, a group of 13 birders met at Boxerwood on Saturday to work on Professor Rowe's Birding by Ear 102.
Kerry Kilday and Dick Rowe led us through the nature center finding lots of great birds. It was a great example of birding by ear, with several identified as they sang in the distance. There were others we were able to seek out and get glimpses after someone recognized the song, and also some great examples of songs and hints we heard about from Donna.
Here is the list of what we saw and heard;
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – heard also seen by some
Eastern Meadowlark - heard
Field Sparrow - heard
Song Sparrow - heard
Carolina Wren - heard
American Crow - heard
Chipping Sparrow - heard
House Finch – heard
Common Grackle - heard
Northern Cardinal – Heard/Seen
Tufted Titmouse – Heard/Seen
Mourning Dove Heard/seen
Chimney Swift (first of the season fur us)
I returned home yesterday after a long weekend away to discover three beautiful bluebird eggs in one of the nest boxes I’ve been monitoring; today, the hen laid a fourth. I am wondering what effect tonight’s below-freezing temperature might have on the eggs. Will they freeze and not be viable? Does cold in some way stunt embryonic development? I’ve been googling for information, but coming up with little that's relevant. Most temperature studies are focused on heat. Does anyone in the club know?
Leave a comment if you have suggestions - thanks
We had a great presentation on April 9 by Donna Finnegan, helping us get a sense of "Birding by Ear." There was a great crowd and everyone enjoyed her presentation helping us recognize more of what surrounds us every day.
One of the big themes of her presentation was the use of mnemonics and phonetics to help get a handle on recognizing birds by their songs. She had a list with her that we'll post on the site as soon as we can. In the meantime, there are several places on the Internet where you can find this kind of list. A nice one I found today comes from the Fernbank Science Center in Atlanta.
There are also several guides and apps that help with song ID (though they all have the problem of starting with knowing the bird and then hearing the song. . . we need something that lets us record a song and have the app tell us what we're hearing. . .) We'll be adding more posts about these programs and how they work for us.
Wendy also reminded us that some folks will be meeting at Boxerwood on Saturday the 12th at 8 am to practice - everyone is welcome. We'll 'see' what we 'hear.'
Update - 4/14/2014 - Here is Donna's list of mnemonics and phonetics;
MNEMONICS FOR COMMON BIRDS
Carolina Chickadee--"feebee feebay, chick'adee-dee-dee"
Tufted Titmouse--"peter, peter, peter" or “Here, Here, Here”
White-Breasted Nuthatch--"yank yank"
Carolina Wren--"virGINya, virGINya, virGINya"
Mockingbird--phrases repeated 3 or more times
Brown Thrasher--phrases repeated 2 times
Blue Jay – Jay Jay Jay! (and squeeky clothesline)
American Crow--"caw" Fish Crow—“Eh eh
American Robin--"cheerup, cheerily, cheerily"
Scarlet Tanager – Like Robin with sore throat. Call “CHIP-bird”
Eastern Bluebird--"cheer, cheerful, charmer"
Northern Cardinal--"Right cheer', Right cheer', birdy birdy birdy'"
White-Throated Sparrow--"poor Sam Pea'body, Pea'body, Pea'body"
American Goldfinch--"per-chik'-o-ree", "baybeee?'"
Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher--"spee spee"
Red-eyed Vireo--"look-up, over-here, see-me, up-here"
Yellow-Throated Vireo--same as red-eyed but buzzier
Solitary Vireo--same as red-eyed but slower, sour
White-eyed Vireo -- Chick- a-per-weeo-CHICK
Great Crested--"wheep! wheep!"
Eastern Wood Pewee--"pee-oo-wee"
Black-and-White--"wheezy, wheezy, wheezy"
Worm-Eating--insect-like, dry trill
Golden-Winged--"bzz- bzz, bzz, bzz"
Yellow--"sweet sweet sweet, I'm so sweet"
Black-Throated-Green--"zay zay zay zoo zee?"
Black-Throated Blue--"I am lazeee"
Chestnut-Sided--"please, please, please to meet'cha!"
Ovenbird--"teacher teacher teacher"
Kentucky--"toree' toree' toree'"
Hooded--"wheeta wheeta WHEET'eo"
Prothonotary Warbler -- Zweet-zweet-zweet
American Redstart -- Tzee, tzee, tzee, tzeeo
PHONETIC CALLS AND SONGS
Bee-buzz-buzz or Bee-buzz-buzz-buzz--Golden-winged Warbler
I am lazeee or beer beer beer beeee--Black-throated Blue Warbler
Chup-chup TZEeeee---Seaside Sparrow
Ka ka ka...kowp kowp kowp--Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Keeeeer--Common Tern and Forster's Tern
Kid-ik, kid-ik, kid-ik--Virginia Rail
Killdeer killdeer! - Killdeer
Please please pleased to meet'cha--Chestnut-sided Warbler
Quick, three beers--Olive-sided Flycatcher
See-bit see-bit see-bit, see-see-see-see--Nashville Warbler
Speee speee--Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Tee-si, tee-si, tee-si--Bay-breasted Warbler
Tic-tic, tic-tic-tic--Yellow Rail
Tika, tika, tika-swee, swee, swee-chay, chay, chay--Tennessee Warbler
Whit, whit--Swainson's Thrush
Yank, yank, yank--White-breasted Nuthatch
A-weet, a-weet, a-weet-teo--Hooded Warbler
Bob white, bob white--Northern Bobwhite
Bubble, bubble, zee--Brown-headed Cowbird
Caw, caw, caw--American Crow
What-cheer, what-cheer, what-cheer, or cheer, cheer, cheer--Northern Cardinal
Cheerily, cheer-up, cheerily--American Robin
Chick- a-per-weeo-CHICK --White-eyed Vireo
Chuck-will's-widow--Chuck-will's-widowChurr, churr, churr--Red-bellied Woodpecker
Chur-ry, chur-ry, chur-ry--Kentucky Warbler
Chur-wee or Cheer, cheerful charmer--Eastern Bluebird
Dtzee, dtzee, dtzeet--Eastern Kingbird
Ee-o-lay! --Wood Thrush
Fee-bee, or Fee-blee--Eastern Phoebe
Fee-bee fee-bay--Carolina Chickadee
Here, here, here--Tufted Titmouse
Here I am, over here, see me, where are you?--Red-eyed Vireo
Jay, jay, jay--Blue Jay
Kee-yer, kee-yer, kee-yer--Red-shouldered Hawk
Kik, kik, kik--Pileated Woodpecker
Kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee--Killdeer
Who cooks for you, who cooks for you'all--Barred Owl
Maids, maids, maids, put on your tea, kettle, kettle, kettle--Song Sparrow
Poor Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody--White-throated Sparrow
Pee-O-wee or pee-wee--Eastern Wood-Pewee
Peent, peent, peent--American Woodcock
Perchickaree or Babeee?--American Goldfinch
Peter, peter, peter--Tufted Titmouse
Wheep, wheep--Great Crested Flycatcher
Purty, purty, purty--Northern Cardinal
Queedle, queedle, queedle---Blue Jay
Queer, queer--Red-headed Woodpecker
Spring of the year--Eastern Meadowlark
Sweet, sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet--Yellow Warbler
Teacher, teacher, teacher--Ovenbird
Tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle--Carolina Wren
Three-a, three-a--Yellow-throated Vireo
Tseer, tseer--Red-winged Blackbird
Tzee, tzee, tzee, tzeeo--American Redstart
Weesa, weesa, weesa--Black-and-white Warbler
Are you awake? me too (6 hoots) --Great Horned Owl
Wicka, wicka, wicka--Northern Flicker
Witchety, witchety, witchety--Common Yellowthroat
Zay, zay, zay, zoo, zee? --Black-throated
Zeee, zeee--Cedar Waxwing
List compiled by:
Ticks! They’re here year around, but now their “high season” is coming. The tiny deer tick sometimes transmits Lyme and other diseases. How can we avoid tick bites while out birding? Here’s some information we hope will be helpful, gathered last year from reputable sources (identified briefly in parentheses, and in full at the end of this note):
Deer ticks cling to tall grass, brush, and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact. Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area. (NY)
Most tick bites won't give you a disease, but some can. It's not clear how long an infected tick must be attached before it transmits a disease (a crawling tick doesn't transmit anything). For Lyme disease, it probably takes one to three days. (Harvard)
How to protect yourself
If you’ve been exposed to ticks and you develop flu-like symptoms or a rash, see your clinician—even if the symptoms go away on their own. The symptoms may appear 3 to 30 days after the bite. A tick-borne infection usually causes no lasting harm if it’s recognized and treated early. (Harvard, NY)
NY - New York State Department of Health
Harvard - Harvard Women’s Health Watch
CDC - Centers for Disease Control
NIH - National Institutes of Health
---compiled and edited by Alexia Smith