Annoucement!

It’s time to create the 2017-2018 edition of the VSO Speakers Directory and we're always looking for new speakers to include in the directory. Please consider telling your birding story! If you would like to list program(s) you are willing to present, please provide the title(s) and your contact information to Russ Taylor at gnatcatcher@gmail.com NO LATER THAN APRIL 7. Thank you!

VSO Field Trip Report: 3-5 Feb 2017 - Outer Banks, NC

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!

The Richmond Audubon Society is excited to serve as the host chapter for the Virginia Society of Ornithology’s Annual Meeting.  We’ve scheduled the meeting for the first weekend of May, from May 5-7, 2017.  Our home base for the weekend will be the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel and Conference Center located at 1000 Virginia Center Parkway, Glen Allen, Virginia.  It is a beautiful property located north of the city, and the groundskeepers there tell us that they regularly have nesting Brown Thrashers and Carolina Wrens.  You can visit their website here for more information about the facility: http://www.wyndhamvirginiacrossings.com/  And while the hotel’s grounds are lovely, we are very excited to show off all the wonderful birding locations we have in and around the city of Richmond. We are planning to host a number of field trips to some of our favorite spots.  By the first weekend in May, there’s a very good chance that the James River Park system will be teeming with many of the migratory species that make their way through our area every spring.  You can expect the field trips to touch on a number of our hot spots in the James River Park System in Richmond, which spans some 550 acres right in the heart of the city of Richmond.  You can learn more about it by clicking here: http://jamesriverpark.org/ Urban birding won’t be our only option, either.  We have field trip leaders eager to show off the many wonderful spots in the central Virginia area that our members regularly enjoy.  We’ll have a full list... 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!