Date: 6/30/18 9:29 am
From: Marlene A Condon via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: Re: [VA-bird] distribution (disappearance ) of Tree Swallows
Hi Steve,
Thanks so much for your post.  I'd been wanting to ask folks if they'd noticed a dearth of Tree Swallows this year.
We had Tree Swallows in our area, as usual, this spring.  However, and very strangely, they all left the rural area where I live in western Albemarle and never returned.  A neighbor, about a mile from my yard as the crow flies, always has Tree Swallows in her bird boxes, but hers disappeared, and I haven't seen them at another bird box in the opposite direction from here either.  Also, these birds seem to have disappeared from my mother-in-law's area in Waynesboro.
It's worrisome.  They were here (including at my house), and then every last one disappeared before breeding had yet to begin.
I would really appreciate hearing from others (in Virginia, or other states to the north, especially) as to what you've noticed as regards Tree Swallows this year.
Thanks ever so much.
In a message dated 6/30/2018 6:52:57 AM US Eastern Standard Time, <va-bird...> writes:

Hello birders,

During the past 10 days, Lynn and I surveyed for the Breeding Bird Atlas in different parts of the state, than the No. Virginia areas we are accustomed to. We were struck by the scarcity of a few species, and we're curious if others can confirm our impressions.

We had 4 days around Appomattox (E of Lynchburg), and 5 days around Smith Mountain Lake (SE of Roanoke), and focused on 9 Priority blocks for the Atlas.

I looked at eBird histogram data before our trip, and so I anticipated seeing some of the "relatively more common" species where we went. And indeed, Yellow-throated Vireo and Summer Tanager did not disappoint - seldom seen around Fairfax County, we found many, which was delightful.

But .. .. on the entire trip we did not see or hear a single Song Sparrow. Also very few Tree Swallows and Chickadees - at least by our No. Virginia standards. I know these are all widespread birds in the Eastern U.S. Is this a local phenomenon that people are aware of?

In terms of similar species, everywhere we went was swarming with Chipping Sparrows, Barn Swallows, and Titmice. So the habitats were reasonably appropriate for these 3 other "missing" species. Any thoughts?

On the threatened species front, it was heartening to find multiple Bobwhite quail and Kestrels - and LOTS of Grasshopper Sparrows.

Steve Johnson

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