Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mecklenburg birders' help is needed

Have you spotted a loggerhead shrike in Mecklenburg County lately? How about a barn owl? Or an American kestrel?


The Mecklenburg Breeding Bird Atlas, a three-year work in progress by the Mecklenburg Audubon Society and the county natural-resources staff, needs your eyeballs. Shrikes, barn owls and kestrels are all ranked as "critically imperiled" species in the county, and the first year of fieldwork for the atlas found none breeding here.

About 110 volunteers took part in 2011. More, of any skill level, are needed. Information on observations of bird nests or other breeding clues, such as birds seen carrying food or nest materials, can be reported on the center-left side of the Mecklenburg Audubon site.

Preliminary results of the first year of fieldwork:

-- Of the 117 species expected to breed in the county, 87 percent were documented.
-- One new species, the Eurasian collared-dove, was found nesting in the county.
-- One pair of American redstarts was confirmed breeding, the first such record in Mecklenburg since 1941.

Of particular interest are loggerhead shrikes (left), which were once common in Mecklenburg County. Sightings have declined in the past two decades as they lost habitat, says county biologist Don Seriff, who is coordinating the atlas project. The birds look like a mockingbird with a black mask and are easy to see in open or brushy fields.

"We'd love to know if (volunteers) can find any within the county," Seriff says.

Birders, consider that a challenge.

3 comments:

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