Date: 6/22/17 6:10 am
From: Ashley Peele via va-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [Va-bird] Mid-Summer VABBA2 Updates
Hi VA Birders,

Hope this finds you all enjoying the summer solstice, as well as some beautiful summer days in the field.  Many of us at the Atlas project are spending lots of our time in the field, rather than on our computers!  We wanted to catch up on sharing some exciting milestones and updates from the project over the past week or so... 

First, the Atlas project has now received over 32,000 checklists to the Atlas eBird portal.  This equates to 18,000+ checklists submitted thus far in 2017!  Our volunteers continue to generate excellent breeding data across the state and we are so excited to see more data slowly coming in from rural parts of the state.

Second, we wanted to recognize one of our top Atlas contributors and hard-working Natural Heritage biologists, Ellison Orcutt.  He just blew past the 100 confirmed breeding species mark, setting the current Atlas state record at 102.  Ellison juggles his busy work schedule, atlasing, AND serving as the region-5 coordinator for the Atlas project.  It makes you a little tired just thinking about it all.  We appreciate him and his tireless work on behalf of Virginia’s wildlife!

Third, a number of really interesting stories have been shared on the Atlas Facebook group recently.  Many folks are now using this Atlas forum, where we can more easily share photos with the group.  Thanks to all of you the Atlas birders that have contributed.  Here are some interesting recent highlights… 

Veronica and Chuck Ratliff shared a rare find, a fully albino Tree Swallow who was fledged from a box near their home in SW VA.  Partial albinism and leucism are not uncommon in wild birds, but documenting a fully albino individual is rare.  We appreciate them sharing this really interesting breeding evidence with the group!

Some additional exciting breeding confirmations shared to the group include Prothonotary Warbler fledglings at Back Bay NWR (Rob Bielawski), Hooded Mergansers w/ a chick in western VA (Logan Anderson), an Ovenbird nest in Highland County (Paul and Hannah Glass), Grasshopper Sparrow fledgling near Winchester (James Fox), and Loggerhead Shrike fledglings in SW VA (Ashley Peele).  We appreciate all the folks contributing their exciting breeding confirmations and photos to this group.  If you’d like to check it out for yourself, visit

Lastly, please check out the latest Atlas project article on tricky breeding codes, Part 3: The Confirmations.  This is the final installment addressing several breeding codes in the ‘confirmed’ category, which are easy to misapply.

Atlas volunteers have been putting forth incredible effort for the Atlas project in the first half of this summer.  Seeing what our growing community has accomplished in just 1 (and a half) breeding seasons is inspiring.  Thank you to these folks who are so tangibly demonstrating the efficacy and value of citizen science.

Good summer birding,

Ashley Peele, PhD

Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator |


Conservation Management Institute, Virginia Tech

1900 Kraft Drive, Suite 250

Blacksburg, VA 24061

(540) 231-9182 office

(540) 231-7019 fax


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