Signs of Spring
Osprey with nest material
Osprey pair ready to nest
Carolina Wren with nest material
Northern Flicker investigates a cavity
Tufted Titmouse with nest material
Eastern Bluebird headed to cavity with nest material
Many thanks to Jim Easton, a CVWO volunteer, who shared his stunning photos of Coastal Plain birds preparing for nesting.
March 2021
Letter from the President
by Brian Taber

A year ago, we started wearing masks to combat the spread of the corona virus. We did not know what the coming weeks and months would bring. Now we know as we emerge from a horrible Covid winter and embrace spring. Here we are a year later, still wearing masks. Thanks to the medical researchers and the devotion of scientists and medical professionals, we can see a bit of a brighter summer and fall as we peer over our masks.

Still the CVWO Board has been busy this winter WFH – newly popular acronym for “working from home.” Among other things, we’ve evaluated and awarded three research grants to graduate students at ODU and William and Mary.

We’ve installed an educational sign at CVWO’s Butterfly Garden at the Jamestown Marina (see photo).
Our colleague, Ken Lorenzen, delivered butterfly specimens he prepared to Kiptopeke State Park for their new Visitor Center, which we hope will open soon.

Another example of “working from home” – we’re preparing our Annual Research Report. And the Prothonotary Warblers will be back in Virginia’s swamps and wetlands in about three weeks, so we’re repairing and replacing boxes on our trails.

Please get out to enjoy this much-awaited spring. We hope to see you out and about soon.

Thanks, as always, for your continuing support.

Brian Taber
College Creek Hawkwatch
Chilly temperatures in early March along the James River found Nancy Barnhart bundled up against the chill. Photo by Shirley Devan
"Before March 16, we were off to a nice start, ahead of most years, but the mid- March weather has slowed migration," reports Brian Taber. “Third straight day of low ceilings, north winds, no bird movement,” as Nancy Barnhart reported March 18.

Then the winds turned and on March 21, the hawkwatchers reached a total of 1,000 birds for the season on the second-earliest date ever.

Counters Brian Taber, Nancy Barnhart, and Bill Williams have tallied 10 species since starting March 1, mostly Turkey Vultures.
Brian Taber on the left and Nancy Barnhart on the right scan the skies over Hog Island for raptors headed north. Photo by Shirley Devan.
Per Brian, “We did have a local early record date for Northern Rough-winged Swallow – March 8. Also, Tundra Swans and 3 American Pipits flying across the river plus American White Pelicans several times and a Purple Finch.”

Check their daily totals at:

Visitors are welcome and will find the hawkwatchers on duty from about 10 - 1 pm, depending on the weather. The count is along the Colonial Parkway between Williamsburg and Jamestown.
Virtual Lunch & Learn
HMANA Raptor ID Part 2 – Early and Late Species
Lunch and Learn – March 24, 12 noon
Join Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) on Wednesday, March 24, at 12 pm EDT, when we welcome spring and get back into raptor identification!

HMANA continues its popular monthly virtual Lunch & Learn series with Raptor ID Part 2, Early and Late Species. As spring migration begins now is the perfect time to brush up on your ID skills before looking up to the skies!

We are excited by the return of Josh Haas to the series. He will focus on early and late migrants featuring photographs, flight ID tips, and videos comparing species side-by-side from his film Hawks on the Wing.

Josh Haas, HMANA board vice-chair, and founder of Hawks on the Wing, spent seven fall seasons working with the Detroit River Hawk Watch as a relief counter. There he honed his skills and developed a love for teaching visitors unique ways of telling the shadowy species apart. His goal of making hawks accessible to everyone spawned Hawks on the Wing, his new movie that teaches viewers about hawks in flight through the use of video and audio commentary.

This online Zoom program is FREE but limited to 100 participants.
Register HERE
VA Dept of Wildlife Resources Leads the Nation in Protecting Migratory Birds
Red-shouldered Hawk. Photo by Steve Thornhill.
by Terri Cuthriell, VA Society of Ornithology

On March 18, the Board of the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) passed an incidental take regulation to protect migratory birds in Virginia as requested by Governor Ralph Northam February 2020. 

The regulation was necessary to provide a backstop due to the 2017 rollback of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  The Virginia regulation is the first of its kind in the nation, and it establishes a framework to require permits when the incidental take of migratory birds is possible during certain regulated activities such as construction, oil and gas, transportation, wind and solar, etc.  

The regulation will become active on July 1, 2021. Many stakeholders participated in DWR’s working group that drafted the Virginia incidental take regulation and testified at the Board meeting in favor of approving the regulation. 
Seabirds at Hampton Roads. Photo by Inge Curtis
Sector specific plans are still to come, but a framework is now in place to protect birds in VA from incidental take during many regulated activities.

Other great news for the Hampton Roads Seabird colony! Work is underway under the direction of DWR to ensure that Fort Wool and additional habitat are ready for the seabirds who will be arriving in April! And the Federal government recently budgeted studies to build a new island breeding habitat for the Hampton Roads seabird colony. These are phenomenal achievements for bird conservation in Virginia!                               
Please take a few minutes and send a note to the Board of DWR (on behalf of yourself or your conservation organization) in appreciation for all the extraordinary work they have accomplished on all these initiatives! 

Bicycling with Butterflies
presented by Monarch Watch April 13, 6 pm ET
The Raven Book Store teams up with Monarch Watch to present outdoor educator Sara Dykman and her new book Bicycling with Butterflies  in conversation with renowned researcher Chip Taylor, founder of Monarch Watch. Don't miss this fun and fascinating night of travel, science, and butterflies!

In 2017 Sara Dykman became the first person to bicycle the entire route of the migrating monarch butterfly. She traveled from Mexico to Canada and back on an old mountain bike weighted down with all the supplies she would need for nine months on the road. Along her 10,201-mile route Dykman gave presentations to people about the monarchs and what people can do to protect the migration. She became a voice for the monarchs. Now her voice has the potential to travel even further, with the launch of her book, Bicycling with Butterflies. Part science, part adventure, part love letter to nature, Dykman hopes her book will inspire people to see the beauty of our own backyards and the power each of us has to be part of the solution.

Register today for this special April 13th online event here.
ABA's North American Birds Publishes Article by Brian Taber
Congratulations to…
… our own CVWO President, Brian Taber, on the publication of his description of probable hybrid of a Mottled Duck and American Black Duck in May 2019 in Portsmouth.

The bird was found by CVWO's Waterbird Research Team and "was thought to possibly represent the first known example of a Mottled Duck x American Black Duck hybrid."

The same team discovered Virginia's first Mottled Duck in 2018 at the same Portsmouth location.

The article appears in American Birding Association's "North American Birds," Volume 71, Number 2, published in winter 2020-2021.
CVWO Cafe Press
New Logo Merch Coming!
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Check next month's newsletter!

CVWO's Website and Blog
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Check out CVWO's Blog Posts to learn more about the spring hawkwatch on the shore of the James River between Williamsburg and Jamestown on the Colonial Parkway.