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Piedmont birding

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Mecklenburg volunteers tracking breeding birds

By Taylor Piephoff
Taylor Piephoff
Taylor Piephoff writes on birding in the Piedmont.

This is the third and final year for the Mecklenburg County Breeding Bird Atlas. Volunteers have been collecting nesting data on any bird species that they observe.

The goals are to obtain pictures of species that are breeding in the county, document declines and increases in species numbers, gain an understanding of patterns of range expansions and contractions, and perhaps identify critical habitats that should be considered for preservation. It is an ambitious project, coordinated by Mecklenburg County Natural Resources with monetary support from several private entities.

The project has already advanced knowledge of local breeding, with some species being documented within the county for the first time, or for the first time in a long while.

Species such as dickcissal, American redstart, Eurasian collared-dove, hooded merganser, peregrine falcon and bald eagle have been added to the county’s breeding avifauna list.

Volunteer observers are working hard to find evidence of more species’ nesting before the project concludes.

The procedure is simple: Each volunteer is assigned to a territory and spends at least 20 hours in the field collecting nesting evidence over the three-year period.

Confirmed nesting evidence includes seeing birds gathering nesting materials or carrying food or observing active nests, recently fledged young or distraction displays by adults.

It is impossible for volunteers to cover the whole county, especially private land and residential areas. This is where you can help. If you have observed any of the behaviors described or physical evidence of nesting; go to Mecklenburg Audubon’s website ( www.meckbirds.org) and fill out a short report and survey.

You must be able to identify the species and the exact location of the observation. Report even very common species because there are some land blocks with very little data so far. I am interested in what you are seeing too, especially if you have photos of nests or baby birds.

Taylor Piephoff is a local naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com.
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