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 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"... 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] 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:  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: 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!

Make plans to join us for the VSO’s Winter field trip at the Outer Banks of North Carolina February 3-5, 2017! 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 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 this year. There’s a huge deck off the second floor, which offers great beach-viewing opportunities. The special VSO room rate is $70 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. This hotel is also 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! Contact information for the hotel is: 8031 Old Oregon Inlet Road,... Click Here to Continue Reading!

We could not have asked for better weather for the VSO field trip to Chincoteague on September 16-18, with sunny to partly cloudy skies for the entire weekend. We were excited to welcome many new members and first-time attendees, along with “old timers” who’ve been enthusiastic participants for decades. Our group of 85 tallied 129 species (see below), and the list included birds found on the Causeway, Chincoteague Island and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, mosquitoes were abundant everywhere on the Refuge, so it’s hard to tell how many pints of blood were unwillingly left behind!  Please note that this report continues after the gallery of images shown below (all photos taken by Lee Adams) so make sure to check it out! Many thanks to field trip leaders Jerry Via, Bill Akers, Bob Ake, Mike Schultz, Saundra Winstead, Morocco St. Andre, and Meredith and Lee Bell, who worked hard to ensure participants had a great experience. Jerry kicked off the weekend Friday evening with a fascinating presentation on bird migration. In addition to the “regulars,” we were thrilled to see species that we don’t get every year, including: American Golden Plover on the Wildlife Loop and one of the bus trips; Piping Plover and Red Knot at Swans Cove; Philadelphia Vireo and a family of Red-headed Woodpeckers on the Woodland Trail; Canada, Wilson’s and Magnolia Warblers on the Woodland Trail; Buff-breasted, Stilt, White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers; Red-breasted Nuthatches in good numbers on the Woodland Trail and Wildlife Loop; Whimbrel...Click Here To Continue Reading!

27 members of the Virginia Society of Ornithology met at Craney Island Disposal Area in Portsmouth on August 19, 2016 to observe shorebird migration and the breeding birds that use the habitat created there. Guided by members of CVWO, Bill Williams, Brian Taber and Dave Youker, and accompanied by Kristen Scheler and several others from the Army Corps of Engineers which manages the site, the trip lasted four hours. 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. At the first stop on the high perimeter road, overlooking an impoundment along the south side, Black-necked Stilts, some in family groups, American Avocets, Stilt Sandpipers and both Yellowlegs were seen. Wilson's Phalaropes swam circles. Two Green Herons flew by while Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, & Snowy Egrets stalked the shallows. A Clapper Rail hugged the shoreline. An immature Bald Eagle sat barely concealed in the top of a tall pine. A Red-shouldered Hawk streaked directly over. En route to the next stop four Red-tailed Hawks were spotted perched on the power line poles. Brown Pelicans, Great Black-backed, Herring and Laughing Gulls, with several Lesser Black-backed and Ring-billed Gulls, sat on a sandbar on the east side. Caspian, Royal, and Common Terns were mixed in with Least Terns. The tide was too high to reveal flats for shorebirds but one Willet walked the shore. At a...Click Here To Continue Reading!

The VSO annual field trip to Virginia Beach will be held Friday, December 2 through Sunday, December 4, 2016. On Saturday a visit to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) is planned. The last trip of the weekend will be a tram ride at Back Bay NWR and False Cape State Park on Sunday morning. LODGING: There will be a blocks of rooms available at Comfort Suites Beachfront (VA563) Renovations have been completed. To register for the group rate you must mention the Virginia Society of Ornithology. Reserve rooms by Nov 10 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 10. FRIDAY MORNING: Craney Island Trip - Arrive at 7:30 to enter the compound at 7:45. 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; we may meet off-site at 7 to arrange carpools. Limit of 25 people. Contact Lee Adams to register at or 540-850-0777. FRIDAY EVENING: A tally/meet & greet will be held at 7 pm Friday at the hospitality room of the hotel. Please bring a beverage of your choice and a nibble to share. SATURDAY MORNING: The Saturday field trip to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel (CBBT) will leave promptly at 8:00 a.m. from the parking lot of the CBBT visitor center... Click Here to Continue Reading!

(Williamsburg, VA)—The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University has compiled 2016 survey results for the Virginia bald eagle population.  After more than 160 hours of aerial surveys, ground efforts in residential areas of lower Tidewater, and observations from inland volunteers, the survey documented 1,070 occupied breeding territories.  This result continues the dramatic year over year recovery documented over the past 40 years.  The population had fallen to a low of 20 pairs by 1970.  A federal ban on the use of DDT and like compounds in 1972 initiated a recovery by the late 1970s.  By 2007, the population had reached 500 pairs for the first time in the modern era.  The 2016 survey mapped eagle territories within 57 counties and 12 independent cities.  The highest breeding densities continue to be in counties situated around major tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay with highest numbers including 75 pairs in Westmoreland County, 73 pairs in King George County and 71 pairs in Essex County. In addition to the historic breach of the 1,000-pair barrier, this season marks some notable survey anniversaries.  2016 represents the 60th year of the annual eagle survey initiated by Jackson Abbott and volunteers of the Virginia Society of Ornithology.  In addition to this incredible milestone, the 2016 survey represents the 40th year of Mitchell Byrd’s tenure, the 25th year of Bryan Watts’ tenure conducting the survey, and the 25th year of... Click Here to Continue Reading the Full Article on The Center for Conservation Biology Website!