Field Trip with Fletcher Cancelled (Marsh Sparrow Banding)

The tide is too high, the mud is too much. The Sunday, March 22, field trip to band marsh sparrows has been cancelled for the third time. We will not be able to reschedule this.

Last Updated on Saturday, 21 March 2015 19:15

March 18 Meeting: Fletcher Smith on Red Knots

Please join us Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 7:30 pm in Andrews Hall Room 101 to hear Fletcher Smith speak to us on the red knots. His discussion of this threatened species will focus on the catastrophic shift of blue mussels because of climate change. The spat of the blue mussel has a characteristic blue tone from the air and is the primary prey of red knots staging on the Virginia barrier islands. This should be a fascinating talk….please add the date to your calendar!

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 March 2015 19:05

Eastern Shore Birding Blitz, March 28

We have a very exciting field trip to offer you - a one day blitz of the birding hotspots of the Eastern Shore led by Dan Cristol. 

In Dan's words, "We will enjoy the best of both seasons. With the beginning of Spring migration and the end of the winter season, we will try to see approximately 100 species, with lingering waterfowl bolstering the list as well as early-arriving shorebirds. Island 1 of the CBBT should provide some sea ducks, while the Eastern Shore Refuge will provide possibilities for rails and marsh sparrows.  Depending on tide and weather we may hit Oyster, the Dump, Kiptopeke, Magotha Road and points unknown. If time allows after our crown jewel, Chincoteague, we will look for rails and owls at Saxis marsh on the way home. Expect a very long day filled with birds."
  1. For this trip there is no need to sign up. It is open to all.
  2. We will carpool from Colony Square at 6:00 a.m. and caravan through the Eastern Shore. Those who live further east may wish  to join up with us on Island 1.
  3. Since this is a full day trip, you are advised to bring food and drinks with you.

A reminder and further information will be sent before the trip. Questions: please call Jan Lockwood, 757-634-4164, or email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 March 2015 19:02

Next bird walk Saturday, March 28 at 7 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 Saturday, 21 March 2015 19:12

Bird Walks at New Kent Forestry's "Walk in the Forest", March 21

The Williamsburg Bird Club will lead two bird walks during the New Kent Forestry Center, "Walk in the Forest" event on Saturday March 21. Geoff Giles will lead a group of Boy Scouts and Nancy Barnhart will lead a walk for the public through the varied habitats of the Center. Both walks will begin at 8:00 a.m.

From the New Kent Calendar: "March 21 Walk in the Forest 8 am to 4 pm at the New Kent Forestry Center, 11301 Pocahontas Trail, Providence Forge, VA 23140. 8 am: Guided Birding Trip; 10 am Guided Nature Hikes start every half hour until 2 pm; 10 am Exhibits Open and Free Seedlings available.  Society of American Foresters.  To register contact Dave Lauthers at 757-753-8309 or email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For more information contact Lisa Deaton at 804-966-2201 or email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ."

Last Updated on Sunday, 22 February 2015 15:15

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

Bird ID from Recycle Bin Photos of Joe Piotrowski from Previous Months

Bird ID from Recycle Bin - Photos By Joe Piotrowski

Our Photo Gallery

October's birds were Cattle Egrets.

September's bird was a Northern Gannett.

Summer's bird was a  Ruddy Turnstone.

April's bird was a Tri-Colored Heron.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 02:44

- Check out all of Joe's mystery birds from previous monthsBird ID from Recycle Bin Photos of Joe Piotrowski from Previous Months

Can you identify this? Joe's Mystery Bird

Bird ID from Recycle Bin - Photos By Joe Piotrowski
This feature is only on the website and in the electronic version of The Flyer.

See all birds from previous months in Our Photo Gallery

Click on photo and comment in our photo gallery. What bird do you think this is?


Last Updated on Monday, 10 November 2014 02:41

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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