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Surveys Result in Completion of Fifth Season of WV Breeding Bird Atlas

Juvenile Loggerhead Shrike observed in West Virginia; photo by Rich Bailey.
During the fifth field season of the six-year Atlas Project, 86 WV Division of Natural Resources staff and atlas volunteers logged 3,525 field hours and submitted nearly 15,000 observations of 165 species statewide to the Atlas data portal.  Abundance sampling took place on 170 quads statewide.

WVDNR staff also located and monitored seven breeding pairs of rare Loggerhead Shrikes in Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Monroe counties.  Staff initiated partnerships with local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices to contact and work with landowners on access and habitat management.  Partnerships with nearby states are helping initiate a trapping/banding program and resolve genetic questions.  Other surveying activities focused on the Swainson’s Warbler. A two-year survey for this secretive species in the northern Cumberland Plateau counties will identify the extent of their distribution. West Virginia is at the northern extent of their breeding range.  Staff surveyed a total of 189 sites , with presence of Swainson’s Warblers confirmed at 42.   Habitat at sites with detection consisted of mostly-closed canopy with a woody understory, high stem density, and abundant leaf litter.  The understory consisted of rhododendron in most but not all cases.  Surveys will continue in 2014.