Washington County Bird Club


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Kite Delight

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Two unexpected visitors to Washington County were reported on August 11. A Swallow-tailed Kite as well as a Mississippi Kite were spotted near the fish hatchery on Rt. 66. The STKI is a first record for the county and stayed in the area until at least August 26. People from near and far came to admire its beauty and aerial agility. The Swallow-tailed Kite is a medium sized raptor with striking


black and white plumage, a long forked tail, and a 48” wingspan. It captures flying insects, or plucks them from treetops, as well as small reptiles and birds. The STKI breeds in the southeastern US and winters in northern and central SA where it can also be a year-round resident. Thanks to Brad Lanning for spotting both birds, and to Jim Speicher for notifying club members.

WCBC Member Honored for Conservation Work

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

WCBC Member Honored for Conservation Work

Doug Hutzell has been selected a Hero of Conservation by Field & Stream magazine for 2013. He was nominated for his vision and tireless work to create a self-sustaining wild trout fishery along Beaver Creek in eastern Washington County. It has taken the formation of a watershed group, thousands of volunteer hours, major stream restoration projects, the cooperation of public agencies and private groups, and years of monitoring to achieve this success. Doug, for the past fourteen years, has been the forward momentum and the common thread that weaves through it all. We congratulate him for this well deserved recognition. He joins five other Conservation Hero finalists who will be honored at a gala in Washington, D.C. in mid September. Read more about Doug’s work in the March and September issues of Field & Stream magazine or go to fieldandstream.com/heroes

Tips for Managing Observations of Rare Birds

Posted on September 6, 2013 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Tips for Managing Observations of Rare Birds


Observing rare birds is an exciting and important activity for many birdwatchers; however, managing access to the site for others to see can be challenging. The following tips may assist discoverers of rare birds to optimize observation opportunities for others while maintaining good will with landowners and fellow birdwatchers.

Is the bird on public property?

This is the easiest situation to manage and the sighting can usually be broadcasted to the entire birding community via email, eBird or other means. Regardless, it is a good idea to include any restrictions of the property such as hours, parking, fees, etc. Care should be taken if it is suspected the bird may be in breeding status or potentially establishing a population (i.e. not a vagrant), where constant threat of observation may adversely affect this activity.

If it is a rare or endangered bird, then provide recommendations about not using tapes, iPods, or any other type of disturbance.

Is the bird on private property?

It is usually a good idea to have a local coordinator. Facilitating access to a rarity on private property can be an extremely delicate and stressful job. Officers from local chapters are often best suited to assist by being the local coordinator and can help facilitate access.

There have been references to guidelines provided on bird list-servers; it is very important to point out that neither MOS nor any club has formal authority in such matters. Since each situation is unique, the following are provided as general recommendations.

Make contact with the property owner

Remember that the well-being of the bird, the homeowners, and the neighbors are our greatest priorities.

1. Make contact with the property owner and confirm the identification of the bird.

2. Communicate with the homeowners about what could happen and ascertain to what extent they are willing to entertain access for safe observation. Be realistic without being alarmist or unconcerned. Some homeowners for various valid reasons want a small number of visitors or even no visitors. In fact, some landowners consider the presence of a rare bird a threat to the value of their property and their rights in what they can and cannot do.

During the initial visit, good facilitators should do all of the following:

1. Be pleasant and informative.

2. Ensure the bird is documented with photo/video or an in-depth written description to establish the record.

a. Bring up the subject of banding if doing so would be useful in identification or have other value. Also suggest that there is a small chance for injury and that the bird might depart after the banding.

b. Consider consulting an expert in documenting the identification.

3. Prepare the homeowner for the level of interest and discuss options for how to control the flow of information. Assess owner’s interest and privacy requirements to determine agreeable viewing times and access.

4. Look for alternative observation locations such as a public place to view the bird. Suggest possible options based on homeowner's interest.

5. Consider extent of available on-site parking. Ask owners what level of parking is acceptable. Evaluate other locations such as public lots, churches, etc., with shuttle services and schedules.

6. Suggest to the homeowner that they keep a sign-in log for the birders visiting their property.

Note: Recommend using a single primary facilitator/Point of Contact (POC) to avoid confusion and undue stress to the homeowners. The primary purpose of the POC is to be helpful, of course, and the homeowners should do as they please. However, imagine what a mess it could be if you had competing forces disseminating information. A single POC is best for a variety of reasons.

Extreme Options

1. Post the sighting immediately to the list-server or wide email dissemination. Risk: The property is stormed and chaos ensues. The homeowners are overwhelmed. A fence is damaged. The police are called and respond, telling people to move along. The birding community gains a poor reputation and individuals are publicly castigated for insensitivity to the community and the well-being of the bird.

2. Keep it nearly entirely secret and arrange only enough access to document and confirm its identification. Risk: Personal, permanent animosity from fellow birders who may believe it was unreasonable to not try to help others see the bird. After all, in most cases, SOME visitation is easily arranged. Many homeowners love sharing their visitor. Some have gone on to become active birders and members of their local bird club.

There are many options between those two extreme decisions. Identify a POC to contact the landowner to better understand their individual tolerance level. Keep in mind that this is a balance that requires tact. The more people who know, the higher the chance of disturbance. The fewer people who are granted access the more animosity likely will arise in the birding community. Refrain from informing a favorite list of birders. This will undoubtedly be viewed as favoritism from those not informed.

Better Options

• Begin with a gradual release of information following much discussion with the homeowners. This is more manageable overall, and makes it easier to stop if there is unacceptable disturbance to the homeowners, the neighbors, or the bird. Begin with an initial limited list and gradually allow others while continually assessing landowner’s tolerance levels. Ensure this list, however, is developed in a fair way. Consider using the local chapter list or those who have previously expressed interest in rare birds as a base list to work from. Ensure you can defend who gets to see early and who does not.

Since accurate identification of the sighting is paramount, initial access should include individuals that are knowledgeable and can confirm the sighting and ensure correct documentation, if needed. Often it is best getting some people over to get good photos and fully establish the ID. Sometimes, it requires morphometric information that is only acquired through briefly capturing the individual. Here, licensed bird banders should be alerted as early as possible. Everything after this is a service you and the homeowners are doing for the birding community. Hummingbird banders here in Maryland include Bruce Peterjohn, David Holmes, and Joanna Lutmerding.

There are no procedures that will work for all situations. The suggestion that locals should ALWAYS control the situation is probably not correct. Many rare birds have been insufficiently documented and verified by local birders who made poor decisions. However, local chapter officers should know their responsibilities and those in the organization that may be best qualified to document the sighting. When determining the slow release of information, care must be taken in establishing who gets the information and who does not. It is likely there will always be those who are disgruntled because they did not get the information. Does a casual local birder have more "right" to a bird than a passionate field birder who contributes hundreds of eBird reports and extensive rarity documentation regularly? People will argue about these things forever, and this is the part that will rarely be solved to everyone's satisfaction.

Wrapping up

• Recognize the homeowners for their cooperation with some form of recognition (e.g., an award, MOS certificate, a field guide, or bird club membership).

• Submit details to the MD/DC Records Committee and eBird. (eBird reports should be postponed until the bird is public knowledge – see below.)

Inputting into eBird

Generally wait at least seven days after the confirmation before entering your checklists into eBird. Earlier entry may be appropriate if public access is not a problem, or if the bird has left the premises. If the bird is, indeed, gone, ensure this information is also provided.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Joe Hanfman with input and text from Bill Hubick. Edited by Mark S. Johnson, David Webb and Tom Strikwerda. Portions adopted by the Howard County Bird Club.


Field Trip change!

Posted on April 4, 2011 at 3:31 PM Comments comments (0)

Shirley has changed the April 9 field trip to April 23. Please see calendar for number to call for starting time and place.

Loggerhead Shrike continues

Posted on March 2, 2010 at 9:38 AM Comments comments (0)

As luck would have it, the Loggerhead Shrike was seen today, but not by me, at about 1:30 today behind 12608 Sedgwick Way.  This location is the same as where the shrike (or a shrike) was seen last August, behind the Walmart shopping center in Hagerstown.

Monthly meeting

Posted on February 23, 2010 at 9:57 PM Comments comments (0)


About 15 people attended the monthly meeting of the WCBC with speaker Dennis Coskren who gave us an interesting study on the geology of Maryland and it's effects on the birdlife of Maryland.  He also showed us a few pictures from a recent trip to Cuba.  I believe all who attended enjoyed the program and had a good time.

Results of the Washington County CBC

Posted on February 6, 2010 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Washington County [MDWC]

Maryland Region

39.5667 degrees North x -77.7333 degrees West

Christmas Bird Count

Count Year: 110


Species Number 




Canada Goose

(Branta canadensis) 763 

American Black Duck

(Anas rubripes) 17


(Anas platyrhynchos) 388

Green-winged Teal

(Anas crecca) 2


(Bucephala albeola) 1 

Common Goldeneye

(Bucephala clangula) 0  CW

Common Merganser

(Mergus merganser) 0  CW

Wild Turkey

(Meleagris gallopavo) 4

Great Blue Heron (Blue form)

(Ardea herodias) 13

Great Egret

(Ardea alba) 1

Black Vulture

(Coragyps atratus) 55

Turkey Vulture

(Cathartes aura) 143

Bald Eagle

(Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 4

Sharp-shinned Hawk

(Accipiter striatus) 7

Cooper's Hawk

(Accipiter cooperii) 11

Red-shouldered Hawk

(Buteo lineatus) 11

Red-tailed Hawk

(Buteo jamaicensis) 45

American Kestrel

(Falco sparverius) 8


(Charadrius vociferus) 1 

Wilson's Snipe

(Gallinago delicata) 1

Ring-billed Gull

(Larus delawarensis) 5

Rock Pigeon

(Columba livia) 838 

Mourning Dove

(Zenaida macroura) 325

Eastern Screech-Owl

(Megascops asio) 4

Barred Owl

(Strix varia) 2

Belted Kingfisher

(Ceryle alcyon) 13 

Red-bellied Woodpecker

(Melanerpes carolinus) 92 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

(Sphyrapicus varius) 24

Downy Woodpecker

(Picoides pubescens) 85

Hairy Woodpecker

(Picoides villosus) 13

Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker

(Colaptes auratus) 38

Pileated Woodpecker

(Dryocopus pileatus) 28 

Eastern Phoebe

(Sayornis phoebe) 3

Blue Jay

(Cyanocitta cristata) 108 

American Crow

(Corvus brachyrhynchos) 909

Fish Crow

(Corvus ossifragus) 3

Common Raven

(Corvus corax) 5

Horned Lark

(Eremophila alpestris) 7 

Carolina Chickadee

(Poecile carolinensis) 330

Tufted Titmouse

(Baeolophus bicolor) 190

White-breasted Nuthatch

(Sitta carolinensis) 71

Brown Creeper

(Certhia americana) 7

Carolina Wren

(Thryothorus ludovicianus) 121 

Winter Wren

(Troglodytes troglodytes) 10

Golden-crowned Kinglet

(Regulus satrapa) 18

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

(Regulus calendula) 6

Eastern Bluebird

(Sialia sialis) 301

Hermit Thrush

(Catharus guttatus) 3

American Robin

(Turdus migratorius) 1341 

Northern Mockingbird

(Mimus polyglottos) 91

European Starling

(Sturnus vulgaris) 7276

American Pipit

(Anthus rubescens) 58 US

Cedar Waxwing

(Bombycilla cedrorum) 246 

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

(Dendroica coronata) 33

Chipping Sparrow

(Spizella passerina) 1

Field Sparrow

(Spizella pusilla) 14

Song Sparrow

(Melospiza melodia) 52

Swamp Sparrow

(Melospiza georgiana) 7

White-throated Sparrow

(Zonotrichia albicollis) 389

White-crowned Sparrow

(Zonotrichia leucophrys) 38 

Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco

(Junco hyemalis) 706

Northern Cardinal

(Cardinalis cardinalis) 391

Common Grackle

(Quiscalus quiscula) 31 

Brown-headed Cowbird

(Molothrus ater) 15 

blackbird sp.

(Icterinae) 1

Purple Finch

(Carpodacus purpureus) 9

House Finch

(Carpodacus mexicanus) 179

Pine Siskin

(Carduelis pinus) 1

American Goldfinch

(Carduelis tristis) 207 

House Sparrow

(Passer domesticus) 320




Weather & Effort




Count Date: Dec 28, 2009


Number of Participants: 23


Number of Party Hours: 81.0

Species Reported: 68

Low Temperature: 27


High Temperature: 30


AM Weather: Partly cloudy

Rain: None

Snow: None

PM Weather: Partly cloudy

Rain: None

Snow: None






Compiler: Dave Weesner

Secondary Compiler(s):

Participants: Mark Abdey

Marcia Balestri

Doris Berger

Kathy Calvert

Susan Fabian

Tim Fabian

Shirley Ford

Robert Futcher

Tony Futcher

Bill Garren

Vern Gauthier

Pol Heiney

Helen Horrocks

Anna Hutzel

Judy Lilga

Floyd Murdoch

Tim Rahn

Dave Russel

Kate Weatherby

Dave Weesner

Betty Wolf

Larry Zaleski

Beth Zang




Recent Sighting Big Pool

Posted on January 19, 2010 at 9:56 PM Comments comments (0)

From MD Osprey


Joe Hanfman

Columbia, MD


Location: Fort Frederick SP---Big Pool

Observation date: 1/18/10

Number of species: 35

Canada Goose 75

Tundra Swan 1

American Wigeon 1

American Black Duck 48

Mallard 36

Northern Pintail 3

Canvasback 1

Redhead 2

Ring-necked Duck 2

Bufflehead 7

Hooded Merganser 1

Common Merganser 30

Ruddy Duck 1

Wild Turkey 5

Turkey Vulture 1

Red-tailed Hawk 2

American Coot 1

Downy Woodpecker 3

Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 4

Pileated Woodpecker 2

Blue Jay 6

American Crow 8

Carolina Chickadee 14

Tufted Titmouse 6

White-breasted Nuthatch 4

Carolina Wren 2

Golden-crowned Kinglet 2

Eastern Bluebird 4

American Robin 2

Northern Mockingbird 3

European Starling 6

White-throated Sparrow 2

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 1

Northern Cardinal 10

House Finch 2


AND  also


I also checked this area today since I will be covering it next week as

part of the C&O Canal count. I visited in the afternoon and by then more

birds had arrived. A pair of Common Goldeneye were there, as well as 10

Gadwall, several hundred more Canada geese, and some sort of hybrid

goose (possibly Canada x domestic Graylag) and a white domestic goose.

An adult Bald Eagle also soared overhead. Hope all these birds stick

around for the count!

Good birding!

Jim Moore

Rockville, Maryland

Northern Shrike NOT

Posted on January 11, 2010 at 8:02 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm updating tis news, from several others who have gone to see the bird.  I haven't ahd a chance to see it but those who have are saying it is a LOGGERHEAD Shrike not a Northern.  Still a great find.


From MD OSPREY......


This from Brad Lanning...Via Hans Holbrook


Happy New Year, lots of exciting birds for 2010. We managed to find a Northern Shrike yesterday morning along Rt.40 past the West End Shopping Center, driving west towards Clear Spring. The adult bird was first seen a top a small tree out in a cornfield just before an old Cub Cadet tractor shop that has several for rent signs in the windows. This location is just before the Del-Mar Inn, driving west on rt.40. The field is on the south side of the road. We were able to study the bird as it ate the remains of it's breakfast. We were able to obtain digi-pix as well as excellent video including the bird calling. A very exciting lifer for my Grandfather and a long-awaited county bird for myself. If anyone needs this bird for the county or 2010, it should stick around for a while. Also, there is some nice looking barbed wire around a chain-linked fence,along a driveway, just before the old tractor shop with for rent signs that it

finished it's meal. The bird is easily viewable from the wide shoulder on rt.40. Good luck to all !


Golden Eagles

Posted on November 3, 2009 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Just a quick note, the first Golden Eagles of the season were seen yesterday at the Washington Monument Hawkwatch.  Seen were two eagles.


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