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New Year’s Day Bird and Birder Show at New Quarter Park

There were 35 birders, 28 species and a nice fire today (even though the air temperature was about 70 degrees!) for birding at New Quarter Park for the first day of 2022.
The ebird list is at https://ebird.org/checklist/S99856080

Photos by Shirley Devan (except for the photo Shirley is in. That photo by Jeanette Navia)

From Dan Cristol on the Mysterious Bird Deaths (updated 8/7/2021)

A mysterious illness that was first noted around the nation’s capital and then killed thousands of birds across more than 10 eastern states appears to be waning. The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources still advises residents in affected northern Virginia counties to desist feeding the birds. For those outside of the affected area it advises taking down the feeders only if multiple dead birds are observed in your yard, which was always good advice. Reports to the agency have declined sharply in recent weeks. Reports can be filed at https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/bird-mortality-reporting-form/  
 
The source of the fatal illness, which causes crusty eyes and neurological problems, has never been identified, but since the beginning there has been an uncanny correspondence with the geography and timing of the Brood X cicada emergence. In some wildlife disease outbreaks multiple stressors are at play, such as a combination of immune-weakening pesticides in the cicadas and a parasite that normally does not overcome birds. Perhaps the eye infection is caused by a bacterium spread by feeders and the neurological symptoms are from a long-banned pesticide that has accumulated in underground cicadas over the past 17 years.  
 
Should you resume feeding the birds yet? As always, that is a personal decision. Some influential pro-bird organizations such as MassAudubon are being cautious, recommending that no one in Massachusetts feed birds, despite lack of any cases in that state yet. Others, such as Virginia’s wildlife agency, have never recommended taking down feeders unless you live near ground zero in a northern county or see disease with your own eyes.  
 
Out of an abundance of caution, I will keep my feeders empty until cooler weather returns in October. This is partly because I am enjoying not having to clean feeders during these moldy months. I am providing two water baths though, and will feed hummingbirds during their southward migration in August and September, when they won’t find many flowers in my neighborhood. Because no disease agent has been identified there is no consensus among the leading scientific institutions as to whether bird feeders are contributing to this epidemic. I recommend following your own common sense in deciding whether to feed your birds this summer. Feeding the birds is as much for you as it is for the birds, so factor in the benefits that you and your feathered friends receive, and the currently low risk that is entailed by feeding birds in this area.  

Bird Walks and Field Trips Are Again Open to the Public!

Bird Walks

The Board is in agreement that walks can now be open to the community with no need for reservations. New Quarter Park walks will be the fourth Saturday of each month at 8:00 am. You may just show up with no restrictions! Hurray.

Field Trips

Carpooling for field trips may resume as previously done. On the day of the field trip, people will meet at Colony Square Shopping Center (1301 Jamestown Road) and the cars/riders will be configured at that time.

See the calendar for upcoming events.

IN MEMORY OF TOM MCCARY

By Bill Williams

A devoted member of the Williamsburg Bird Club’s extended family was claimed by cancer January 6, 2021. Tom McCary had been a WBC member since 1983 and was granted a Lifetime Membership at the club’s September 20, 2017 Fortieth Anniversary meeting, recognition long and well deserved.

Upon completion of a career in education, Tom assumed vital roles in our organization’s life before health issues compromised his activities. He served as Vice President for Programs for five years, 2003 through 2007, and then was club Historian for 2017 and 2018.

His scholarship and love of birds were blended into essays for The Flyer, among them: “Titmouse 1, Dog 0” (Vol. 32 No. 4-April 2008); “Can’t Find Birds-Pray for Wintry Day” (Vol. 39 No. 2- February 2015); “March 29 Chincoteague or Bust: Chasing Birds from Sun to Sun” (Vol. 39 No. 5-May 2015); and “Another Unusual Bird Sighting” (Vol. 40 No. 9-November 2016). He often regaled us at monthly meetings with eloquent book review recitations. Tom was a regular attendee at the club’s monthly field trips and was an integral member of the club’s annual Spring and Christmas bird counts, covering on foot a large area of the College Woods section, an area of Williamsburg where he grew up and resided before moving to a health care facility near Richmond. Tom occasionally led bird walks at Shirley Plantation, where he was a docent, and was part of the bird-walk leaders team for New Quarter Park.

Tom McCary (Photo by Shirley Devan)

Above all, Tom embodied the character, dignity, and decorum of a quintessential gentleman. To a person this will be the first and foremost memory anyone who knew him will mention. It was not uncommon to find him dining alone at one of our local eateries, dressed in a coat, tie, and hat. When approached, Tom would stand, smile delightedly as he gave a slight, gracious bow, and then immediately would want to know how you were doing. Learning of Tom’s passing, Virginia Boyles posted this to several of us on January 24: “I remember going to the Capitol Pancake House after birding at the park [New Quarter], and the waitresses knew him by name, and what he wanted to drink before he ordered. They all loved him, and some came by to speak to him, though they were not serving that table.”

During the last year Tom, his attorney and WBC Treasurer, Ann Carpenter, worked through the logistics of a generous bequest to WBC to support our Nature Camp Scholarship funding, lasting evidence of his life devoted to education, scholarship, and birds. Tom McCary’s obituary may be found at this link.

Tom McCary, Sara Lewis, Dorothy Whitfield, ?, Adrienne Frank, Gary Driscole, Patty Maloney. January 1, 2010.

Romper dress

Since the beginning of the Williamsburg Bird Club in 1977, the Club has had a relationship with the local public library, the Williamsburg Regional Library. We have donated funds to the library so they could add bird-related books, and, later, cassettes, CD’s, DVDs, and eBooks to their collection. A list of those titles can be found at Hayden Los Angeles Floral Kimono size: S/M. Note that there is now a “carousel” of book covers on that page of bird-related items available at the library. If you click on the titles, you will be taken to the record for that title in the library’s catalog for possible check out. This is another great way the club and the library have partnered.

Please Donate to the Second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2)

The Second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2) is wrapping up its final year of field data collection. More than 1,400 volunteers and scientists, including many of you, have reported on the breeding activity of over 200 bird species throughout Virginia!
The Atlas project will soon enter its next phase: data analysis and compilation into readily usable information. Although its final form is still being determined, the VABBA2 will provide accessible science-based information on avian population and habitat distributions, species maps and accounts, and a range of other topics. This data will support positive environmental regulation and species conservation, rural land preservation, public lands acquisition and management, climate change actions, and much more.
 
To make this possible, we need your help! Your gift to the VABBA2 will help support completion of this essential body of scientific knowledge whose time has come.
Please donate at www.virginiabirds.org. Thank you!
 
The VABBA2 is a project of the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Virginia Tech, and the Virginia Society of Ornithology. The VSO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and all donations are tax deductible to the extent of the law.

The Williamsburg Bird Club was organized with the purpose of promoting interest in the study of wild birds; protecting birds and their habitat; and sharing the joy of birding with others. To do so, the Club supports the goals of many birding partners, including these listed on our website under links: Virginia Society of Ornithology, Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory, The Center for Conservation Biology, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Recently the Virginia Society of Ornithology posted the following statement which the Williamsburg Bird Club also endorses:

The Virginia Society of Ornithology recognizes the unique challenges people of color can face in all aspects of society, and that includes birding and other outdoor pursuits. Enjoyment of birds and all facets of the natural world is everyone’s right, equally and without bias. As our ongoing commitment, we will continue to promote participation from people of all backgrounds and ethnicities in our field trips, youth programs, and all other VSO activities. Through diversity we are stronger, wiser and better able to face the challenges of declining bird populations and environmental degradation.

Check out this article which highlights Black Birders Week, with insightful comments from Dr. Drew Lanham, Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University:
https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/06/05/black-birders-week

Global Big Day May 9th

On Saturday May 9th, eBird is hosting a Global Big Day for birders all around the world. The goal is to collect as many eBird checklists as possible in 24 hours. In last year’s Global Big Day a total of 92,284 checklists were submitted. Team eBird is hoping to surpass 100,000 checklists this year!
 
Since many of our activities needed to be canceled this Spring, the Global Big Day is a great opportunity for us to come together (virtually) and collect bird data as a replacement for the Williamsburg Bird Club’s annual Spring Bird Count. Everyone can participate and we’ll compile and publish the results from all of the checklists submitted between Williamsburg Bird Club members, Historic River Master Naturalists, and other community members who’d like to contribute. The event will work as follows:
  1. Count birds at home or in your neighborhood following safe, social distancing guidelines. Count anytime, or multiple times, from midnight to midnight on Saturday May 9th. Multiple checklists are encouraged if you plan to spend several short periods of time watching birds throughout the day.
  2. Create a checklist(s) using your personal eBird account.
  3. Share your checklist(s) with the bird club’s eBird account. Our username is “W Bird Club”.
Instructions for creating an eBird account and sharing checklists will be forthcoming by e-mail for those who don’t have accounts or previous experience sharing checklists. If you’d rather not create an eBird account, then you can send your data to me (Jim Corliss), and I will create a checklist for you using the bird club’s account.
 
I will compile all of the checklists submitted May 9th and publish those results. We’re hoping we can collectively find at least 100 species, and also contribute at least 100 checklists to help eBird meet their 100,000 goal! The WBC will award a “special prize” to the individual or family who submits the most eBird checklists. Be sure also to upload photos of any interesting sightings when you submit your checklists so we can share those with other WBC and HRCVMN members.
 
Time participating in the Global Big Day is considered as VMN volunteer hours under Project C2b, Global Big Day / Spring Bird Count. More information about eBird’s Global Big Day can be found at the following web site.
 
 
This will be a great opportunity to “get together” for a worthwhile cause. Please contact me with any questions.
 
Jim Corliss
WBC Bird Walks and Counts
HRCVMN Cohort VI

All Bird Club Activities Suspended through June 10, 2020

Dear Club Members:  I do hope that all of you are continuing to stay well and safe!  Your good health is an upmost priority to me and as President of your club I feel it is my responsibility to do everything I can to minimize any risk to our members.  I also feel a grave responsibility to your family and our community.  I am sure you are  aware of the  Stay-at-Home directive issued by the Governor yesterday. 

I have pasted a section of that order below as it pertains to what activities we are allowed.  
 
1. All individuals in Virginia shall remain at their place of residence, except [that they may leave when] … obtaining food, beverages or goods…seeking medical attention…or essential services…or
e. Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements;
 
Based on this order and my belief that it is nearly impossible to engage in a birding activity that involves more than one person and still comply with social distancing, I am canceling all bird club activities scheduled until the order expires.  That date as of now is June 10th. This includes meetings, field trips, and all other club activities.  I believe we must set an example to our community that we understand the importance of complying in order to reduce deaths and that we are willing to make a sacrfice of our own enjoyment in order to do so.  
 
Of course nature, in all its glory, is still available to enjoy so do go outdoors and take it all in but in a safe and responsible manner. I look forward to when we can get together and share our love of birds and nature.  I know that day will come.  In the mean time feel good in that we are going above the call of duty to take care of ourselves, our families, and our community.  
 
Best
Cheryl Jacobson