Spring Bird Count, May 3, 2015

This year's Spring Bird Count will take place Sunday, May 3, 2015. We need your eyes and ears! Join us in this annual day-long bird count. You will be assigned to a team with at least one experienced birder.  If you are able to count birds at your feeder, we want those numbers, too!  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2015 21:09

Next bird walk Saturday, May 9 at 8 a.m. at New Quarter Park

The Williamsburg Bird Club and New Quarter Park co-sponsor bird walks at New Quarter Park, 1000 Lakeshead Dr., Williamsburg, twice a month — the second and fourth Saturdays. The second Saturdays we meet at 8 a.m; the fourth Saturdays we meet at 7 a.m. Meet in the parking lot near the park office. Participants can stay as long as they’d like. Generally, the leader will walk about two hours or so, but participants can peel off as they like. Walks are free and open to the public. You need not be a member to join us. Just show up! Google map.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2015 21:07

Bird Walk at New Quarter Park, April 25, 2015


Nancy Barnhart
Geoff Giles
Rosemarie and George Harris
Cheryl Jacobson
Sara Lewis
Jan Lockwood
Sue Mutell

New Quarter Park, York, US-VA
Apr 25, 2015 5:30 AM - 8:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments:     Fourth Saturday Bird Walk; 43-52 degrees; overcast; calm; gray squirrel; Cope's Gray Tree Frog
58 species

Canada Goose  22
Double-crested Cormorant  5
Great Blue Heron  5
Great Egret  2
Snowy Egret  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  4     2 pairs at nest sites
Bald Eagle  2
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Laughing Gull  2
Forster's Tern  7
Mourning Dove  1
Barred Owl  1     heard by one participant
Chimney Swift  8
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Red-headed Woodpecker  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  2
Pileated Woodpecker  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  3
White-eyed Vireo  1
Yellow-throated Vireo  2
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  4
Blue Jay  2
American Crow  2
Fish Crow  1
Tree Swallow  2
Barn Swallow  2
Carolina Chickadee  4
Tufted Titmouse  7
White-breasted Nuthatch  1
Carolina Wren  3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  10     one pair at nest
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Eastern Bluebird  1
Wood Thrush  5
American Robin  5
Gray Catbird  1
Black-and-white Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  2
Northern Parula  1
Pine Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  4
Yellow-throated Warbler  3
Prairie Warbler  2
Eastern Towhee  2
Chipping Sparrow  6
Song Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  14
Summer Tanager  5
Northern Cardinal  4
Rose-breasted Grosbeak  1     a gorgeous adult male
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Common Grackle  3
Brown-headed Cowbird  4
American Goldfinch  7

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S23045940

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2015 21:05

Field Trip to the Dismal Swamp, April 18, 2015

The Williamsburg Bird Club, led by Bob Ake, took a field trip to the Washington and Railroad Ditches of the Dismal Swamp on Saturday, April 18. It was a beautiful day to see lots of birds, including Swainson's Warblers, a Barred Owl, a Blue-headed Vireo as well as a White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos. Also saw a Wood Thrush and Pine Warbler. Butterflies included  E. Tiger Swallowtail, Zebra Swallowtail, Question Mark, Pearl Crescent, and Falcate Orangetip.

Bob Ake, Leader
Geoff Giles
John Adair
Marilyn Adair
Joe Cade
Shirley Devan
Maria Fleming (visiting from Ottawa Canada)      
Ron Giese
Bruce Glendening
George Harris
Rosemarie Harris
Andy Hawkins
Cheryl Jacobson
Jan Lockwood
Joyce Lowry
Cathy Millar
Alex Minarik
Sue Mutell
Dena Proctor
Linda Scherer

Dismal Swamp NWR Washington Ditch, Suffolk, US-VA

Apr 18, 2015 6:44 AM - 11:12 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 mile(s) on foot
40 species

Wood Duck  2
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Turkey Vulture  2
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Barred Owl  6
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Downy Woodpecker  3
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Pileated Woodpecker  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  5
White-eyed Vireo  1
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Red-eyed Vireo  3
Blue Jay  1
Carolina Chickadee  2
Carolina Wren  8
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Hermit Thrush  2
Wood Thrush  1
American Robin  1
Ovenbird  3
Louisiana Waterthrush  3
Prothonotary Warbler  15
Swainson's Warbler  4
Common Yellowthroat  4
Hooded Warbler  4
American Redstart  5
Northern Parula  2
Pine Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  7
Yellow-throated Warbler  2
White-throated Sparrow  2
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Common Grackle  2
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
American Goldfinch  3

Dismal Swamp NWR Railroad Ditch, Suffolk, US-VA
Apr 18, 2015 11:26 AM - 1:26 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 mile(s) by car with some stops along Interior Ditch in the burn area
27 species

Mallard  2
Great Blue Heron  1
Turkey Vulture  6
Northern Harrier  1
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Wilson's Snipe  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  8
Eastern Kingbird  1
White-eyed Vireo  3
Carolina Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  2
Carolina Wren  1
American Robin  1
Ovenbird  2
Prothonotary Warbler  6
Swainson's Warbler  2
Common Yellowthroat  10
Hooded Warbler  2
Pine Warbler  3
Prairie Warbler  6
Eastern Towhee  2
White-throated Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Common Grackle  4
Brown-headed Cowbird  1

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 April 2015 21:57

May 20 Meeting: Wildlife Rehabilitator Pearl Beamer

Join us Wednesday, May 20th, at 7:30 pm for a presentation by wildlife rehabilitator Pearl Beamer of Sacred Friends, Inc., a Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Center. Her organization specializes in raptors and water birds (loons, herons, pelicans, egrets) but will not turn anything away. Her service area is primarily the Tidewater (Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk) area but they will care for any animals as long as the animal is transported to them. This joint meeting with the Virginia Master Naturalist Historic Rivers Chapter will be in Andrews Hall, Room 101. Please remember to have a parking pass on your car’s dashboard.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 April 2015 14:19

Field Trip to see Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers, June 6

On Saturday, June 6th, Mike Wilson, Center for Conservation Biology, will lead a trip to Piney Grove Preserve in Sussex to hopefully spot some of the endangered Red-cockaded woodpeckers. Piney Grove hosts Virginia's last breeding population of this endangered species. The Nature Conservancy conducts prescribed burns to manage the pine-savanna habitat for the woodpeckers. Biologists from the Center for Conservation Biology monitor and support what is recognized as the record recovery of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

An EARLY departure to catch the ferry and drive to the Preserve to meet Mike is a must if we are to see the birds as they leave the nest cavity to forage. We will meet at the Colony Square Shopping Center at 4:00 a.m. to carpool. If you have a spotting scope please bring it for this trip. Also, you’ll need to bring water, snacks and insect repellent. Sign-ups are not needed for this trip. You will receive reminders and any additional information prior to the trip. Questions? Contact Jan Lockwood at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 April 2015 14:23

WBC Research Grant Recipient Megan Kobiela's Research Published in Animal Behavior

In 2011 the Bird Club awarded one of our research grants to Megan Kobiela, and she presented a short session about her research at our Bird Club meeting in May 2012: “The Effect of Mercury on Starvation and Predation Risk Tradeoffs in Zebra Finches.” Megan has had her research published in the journal Animal Behavior under the title "Risk-taking behaviours in zebra finches affected by mercury exposure." Congratulations, Megan!

Download a pdf of the article

Last Updated on Monday, 30 March 2015 20:28

2014 Christmas Bird Count Summary

The Williamsburg Bird Club’s 38th consecutive Christmas Bird Count (CBC) was…….Well, let’s just say it…PERFECT! from zero-dark-thirty through the Carrot Tree compilation. Birding conditions were as pleasant and welcoming as could be asked for with calm winds, clear skies and temperatures ranging from 28° F predawn to a very comfortable 54° F in the afternoon. Ninety-three participants including two from near Charlottesville, the William and Mary Bird Club and 21 feeder watchers, among them a 10-year old, rallied and tallied 120 species, 5 more than our all-time high 115 recorded for the 16 December 1984 count and well ahead of our long-term 108 species average.

We had a very exciting entourage of count-day “Write-Ins”, or as some call them, “Goody-Birds”. These are truly rare species under any circumstances and/or species that have rarely been found throughout the history of the count going back to 1977. The Hog Island team spotted a Cackling Goose, our third one since this diminutive version of Canada Goose was granted full species status in 2004, and our second in as many years. Also for a second consecutive CBC the Jamestown crew identified a Greater Scaup, a diving duck that needs careful attention to differentiate it from the locally more expected Lesser Scaup. Members of that team had found a White-winged Scoter near Jamestown December 12, two days before count day. So it was quite frustrating that a “scoter” off Jamestown was just too far away to see the necessary field marks to cinch it up as “the” White-winged. That bird bird will go into the official tally as “Scoter sp.” Undeterred the team pressed on sounding out (via audio playback) 3 Virginia Rails and a Sora. Back on December 16, 1984 we had 7 Virginia Rails and the January 1, 1954 Toanao CBC had 10 Sora. There’s no question the mild, windless day for our count this year was critical for these two rallids to vocalize.

On Wednesday, December 10 Bruce Peterjohn, Chief of the North American Bird Banding Laboratory in Patuxent, Maryland, came to Williamsburg to attempt to band two different hummingbirds at two different locations. One cooperated, the other did not. The one Bruce was able to band proved to be a hatch-year female Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus visiting a feeder in Ford’s Colony. On days when temperatures exceed 50°, like it did for us on December 14, wintering hummers tend not to visit feeders, preferring instead to forage on flying insects and whatever late blooming flowers there may be. It took Sharon Plocher 3 lengthy vigils at the home where the banded bird was feeding before she saw the little Miss.

Confounding this for our count was that after December 10 and Bruce Peterjohn’s banding effort the homeowner confirmed there were TWO hummingbirds at his house! Both were Selasphorus hummingbirds. One for sure, because it had been identified so at banding, was S. rufus. The other was probably S. rufus, but it takes a bird-in-hand analysis to know positively it is not an Allen’s Hummingbird S. sasin. So which of the two did Sharon see? Banded S. rufus or unbanded S. rufus/sasin? Thankfully, on December 15 the homeowner took pictures of the hummingbird(s) at his feeder throughout the day. Based on those photos which clearly show a bird with a band, and the bird’s behavior, it seems pretty clear the bird observed count day was the banded Rufous Hummingbird and was so entered in the final tally. This species has now been listed for the Williamsburg CBC 3 of last 4 years. Our first one was recorded on December 16, 2001. In all cases these were birds identified by capture and banding prior to or just after count day.

Another count-day rarity was an early morning Merlin seen zipping over the William and Mary campus. This was our 8th one in 38 years. The Skimino group picked out 7 Horned Larks, only the 3rd time since 1977 this species has made a count-day final. We had had Orange-crowned Warbler on just 5 previous CBCs. This year 5 teams ferreted out a CBC record-total of 6; Hog Island had 2, with one each for Kingsmill, Jolly Pond, Middle Plantation and Jamestown. Now becoming a testament to longevity, a male Western Tanager in Settlers’ Mill made his fourth consecutive CBC appearance. A young male Baltimore Oriole was at the same feeder that day too. Our CBC has had that species 18 times in 3.8 decades, and 7 of the last 8 years. As thrilling and remarkable as these rare birds were for count day, it was a bird that showed up at Geoff Giles feeder December 16 and 17 that stole the show. There, just inches away from his window, was a young male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a winter first for our area and one of only a handful ever documented in winter for Virginia. This guy, the December 12 White-winged Scoter and Osprey will all go into the Audubon CBC record as “Count-Week” species, not included in the final tally, but present during the 3 days prior to or after December 14. With so many eyes on the skies and feeders we broke several Williamsburg CBC peak count records. Believe it or not our 4,671 Canada Geese broke a record that had stood 54 years. The January 2, 1960 Surry CBC recorded 4,220. This year’s 397 Gadwall bested the 215 found on the December 15, 2002 count. Breaking the Bald Eagle high count would not surprise anyone. Our 65 this time out was 4 more than the December 15, 2013 total. Likewise Cooper’s Hawks seem to be everywhere locally. Last year we set a new CBC peak count with 7. This year we upped that record to 8. We tied the Red-shouldered Hawk high-count with 27, same as 2013. Our logo-bird Red-headed Woodpecker thrived and, more importantly, stayed close by this year because of a very abundant acorn crop. We had 38 for the count, 6 more than the 32 on December 16, 2012. Six Marsh Wrens was one more than the December 17 1989 total of 5. Finding that many of this shy bird was another benefit of the quiet birding conditions. Three cheers to the local Eastern Bluebird nest-box trails. This December our total came to 436 a hefty 50 more than the 386 for the December 16, 2012 CBC. We also beat our Hermit Thrush peak count posting 62, a plus-five over the 57 from December 16, 2012. Every CBC has its missed species. This year those included Red-throated Loon, American Woodcock, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Palm Warbler and Purple Finch.

Many, many thanks to everyone for a stupendously great day for Citizen Science. Also, a standing ovation for Carrot Tree Kitchen and our secret Santas for the best of the best compilation table-fare and hospitality. 

Participants list

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 14:09

The Birds of Virginia’s Colonial Historic Triangle

Cover of Bill Williams' book, Birds of Virginia's Historic Colonial Triangle

The Bird Club has published “The Birds of Virginia’s Colonial Historic Triangle.” Editor Bill Williams compiled the data from local birders' records since the 1960's and 1970's. The cover, shown here, sports a stunning photo of our mascot bird, a Red-headed Woodpecker taken by Club member Mike Powell at Greensprings Trail. The book contains over 30 color photos by local nature photographers.

You can obtain one of “Bill’s Books” at just about any Bird Club event. They are also available at Morrison’s Flowers and Gifts at Colony Square Shopping Center on Jamestown Road and at Wild Birds Unlimited at Monticello Marketplace.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 July 2014 20:02

Western Shore Marshes IBA

Six members of the Hampton Roads and Williamsburg Bird Clubs assembled in Gloucester County on 11 March to conduct a survey of our IBA. Cheryl Jacobson, Geoff Giles, Jane Frigo, Brent Slaughter, Laura Slaughter and Dave Youker conducted a bird survey at seven locations along the shores of the Guinea Neck and Robbins Neck areas.

The original survey date was 3 March, but the event was postponed due to rain. The weather was much more cooperative on 11 March with temperatures ranging into the 60s. While much of the area is private, we were able to get some shore access. The remainder of the time was spent assessing the adjacent wood and field lots.

Total species count for the day was 48, and several of the WSM IBA nomination species were found. The highlight had to be the 14 Brown-headed Nuthatches discovered along the Jenkins Rd area.

The next visit to our IBA hasn’t been scheduled yet, but an announcement will be forthcoming. If you do a bird walk at a location within our IBA, please forward your species count to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Download a copy of an Excel file listing all the current species list for the Western Shore Marshes IBA. This can be used when conducting surveys of the area.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 September 2012 16:36

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