Date: 5/12/19 5:14 pm From: 'Bill Hubick' via Maryland & DC Birding <mdbirding...> Subject: [MDBirding] IBA Birdathon | Sandhill Crane Nesting Update
I'm writing to provide two updates - one on the 10th annual Audubon MD-DC IBA Birdathon and one on a noteworthy observation on the nesting Sandhill Cranes in Garrett Co.
First, thank you all for your support of Audubon MD-DC and the IBA Program. If you haven't already donated, it's not too late to support this super important program!https://act.audubon.org/onlineactions/KmLniKdVaU6DO6ODrcjzww2?ms=giving_page_81
Our birdathon tally for this year was 192 species. Our target is always 200 and we've come very close to the Maryland Big Day record of 214 species on several occasions (213 and 212!). This year the conditions were quite stacked against us between heavy winds, rain, and high waters which led to a near absence of shorebirds, tough work on the coast, and really low bird activity overall. We felt great about how we ran the route and tuned things on the fly, found some very cool birds, and as always, had an awesome time. I'm not in a position to write up a play-by-play for the day, but everything was reported to eBird and you can see a bunch of posts from the field on the MD Birding, Maryland Biodiversity Project, and Audubon MD-DC Facebook pages. Thanks to team members Matt Hafner, John Hubbell, Mikey Lutmerding, and Dan Small for another unforgettable event. Thanks to Dave Curson and Audubon MD-DC for all they do for regional conservation!
Our most noteworthy sighting came around noon on Saturday, 5/11 when we observed our last new bird species for the day. Mikey heard a very distant call of a SANDHILL CRANE with just minutes left on the clock for our noon-to-noon event. We were nearly a mile away, but somehow Matt spotted of the birds in a distant swamp. Mikey scoped a second adult and noted with excitement the presence of two colts (i.e., baby cranes; a term we don't hear often in these parts). As many of you know, Sandhill Crane was only recently added to the list of Maryland breeding birds, part of an overall successful range expansion by the species. We felt very fortunate to see the youngsters and to end our day this way. Unfortunately, feelings were about to get more complicated. As we watched, we saw the adults begin calling frantically and then flush - a Coyote was approaching. They began distraction displays to lure the Coyote away, but ultimately the Coyote found both of the young.
Because it's a natural question, please let me get one thread acknowledged and closed. We feel confident that the Coyote didn't locate the birds because of our presence. We measured via Google Maps and we were close to a full mile away. The birds and Coyote were hardly visible with the naked eye and there is regular human activity ranging from vehicle through traffic to an active farm. It's also not the first time these birds have had young preyed upon. It's very disappointing news, but both species are working hard to survive.
It was quite a spectacle to witness. We have been in discussion with the local birding community, including Kevin Dodge, who have monitored this population's success closely since at least 2015, when the first two young fledged. We've asked Kevin to share some useful context that he'd shared with us and some others to supplement what I've written here. Kevin, when time permits, I thought your summary earlier was excellent. Thank you!
Hope everyone had a nice weekend and is enjoying spring.
Bill HubickPasadena, <Marylandbill_hubick...>://www.billhubick.com