Middle Atlantic: Spring 2021

Spring 2021: 1 March–31 May

Ellison Orcutt (Virginia)

Daniel Sloan (Maryland & DC)

Recommended citation:

Orcutt, E. and D. Sloan. 2021. Spring 2021: Middle Atlantic. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-bxB> North American Birds.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect birding in the region. Organized field trips were far less frequent than they were before the pandemic, but with people spending more time at home and having more free time, birder participation in the backyard and in the field appeared to be as high as ever. The weather was rather ordinary and no major weather events influenced birding at a regional scale. Temperatures were above average in March and April, followed by a cooler-than-average May, while precipitation was below average for the period.

The undisputed highlight of the spring was a White Wagtail, a first for Virginia and the entire Middle Atlantic region, which attracted crowds for a week in April. Several western and northern rarities contributed to an impressive spring for gulls in the region, with 13 species observed. The region also saw the continuation of an exceptional winter irruption of northern and boreal passerines, helping numerous localities produce county firsts and high counts.

Ducks through Plovers

While the Middle Atlantic sees wandering Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks on an annual basis, the number of reports increased significantly this spring. Virginia birders reported the species at multiple sites, including Willow Lake in Rockbridge Co (Dick Rowe) on the final day of May, the Walmart in the City of Colonial Heights (m. ob.) 6–23 May, another bird 29–31 May at Watermill Lake in Chesterfield Co (fide William Foster), and 26 May at Four Mile Run in the City of Alexandria (Todd Kiraly). In Maryland, a group of 10 birds was found on 3 May (Mary Ann Todd) at Hughes Hollow-McKee Beshers WMA in Montgomery Co. Washington, DC joined the action on 26 May when the Four Mile Run group relocated to Constitution Gardens and Reflecting Pool. A single bird remained through the end of the month. This record is DC’s third of the species and the first time the species has lingered for more than a day. There were two reports of Greater White-fronted Goose: at Lake Whittier in Frederick Co, MD, present until 8 Mar, and at Turkey Island Road in Henrico Co, VA. Both were carryovers from the winter. There were four reports of Ross’s Goose, which is rare to the region, with three of them by the shore: in an open field in the town of Snow Hill, Worcester Co, MD on 17 Mar (Marcia Balestri); in Parksley, Accomack Co, VA (Bill Hohenstein); and at Mount Trashmore in the City of Virginia Beach, VA (m. obs.), a continuing bird from the winter. A bird was also found on 7 May at Lake Frederick in Frederick Co, VA (William Parkin, David Boltz). 

Trumpeter Swans were found in several counties across the region, including Anne Arundel, Frederick, Prince George’s, Harford, Baltimore, and Howard counties in Maryland, and Fauquier Co, Loudon Co, and the City of Waynesboro in Virginia. The birds in some of these locations—such as Clifton Institute in Fauquier Co and the Patuxent Research Refuge’s North Tract in Anne Arundel Co—are residents that are present year-round. 

Baltimore Co, MD was responsible for two different Eurasian Wigeon reports. A single bird spent two days at Marshy Point Nature Center (Kevin Graff) 7–8 Mar, while another bird was reported at Masonville Cove on 6 May (Tim Carney). The latter is the first report of this species in Baltimore City during the month of May. Eurasian Wigeon is regular in a number of Virginia’s coastal localities, so the reports of birds in Accomack Co, City of Portsmouth, and City of Virginia Beach were no surprise. Virginia’s second Mottled Duck seemed out of place on the Rappahannock River in Stafford Co on 14 May (Tim Stamps), which may explain why it could not be found after its initial discovery. A lone female King Eider was found far inland on 10 May at Broadfield Lake in Garrett Co, MD (William Pope). This record is the first for the county and the farthest-inland report of this species in Maryland. Three Harlequin Ducks were spotted on 14 Mar near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) in Northampton Co, VA (m. obs.). The CBBT is the best place in the state to find this uncommon winter visitor.   

Expected along the coast but rare in the mountains, a Black Scoter spent five days at Broadway Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rockingham Co, VA, starting on 24 Apr (m. obs.). Two Red-necked Grebes were reported in Maryland just a few days apart, with the first coming at Point Lookout SP in St. Mary’s Co on 27 Mar (Michelle Murchie). On Mar 30, a flyby was reported at Assateague Island National Seashore in Worcester Co (Fred Shaffer). An Eared Grebe stuck around for six days starting on 13 April in North Beach, Calvert Co, MD (Mikey Lutmerding), eventually drifting into Anne Arundel Co. An Eared Grebe first discovered in February in Cape Charles Harbor, Northampton Co, VA continued into the spring, departing on 7 Mar (Matt Anthony). Another Eared Grebe remained at Broadway Wastewater Treatment Facility, Rockingham Co, VA until 12 May (m. ob., Greg Moyers). A second Eared Grebe was in Rockingham Co on 20 Mar at Switzer Lake (William Leigh). The region’s only Western Grebe was photographed on the Atlantic at Back Bay NWR, City of Virginia Beach, VA on 29 Mar. This bird may have been the same one that was seen sporadically in the winter at this location. Back Bay NWR also produced the only White-winged Dove in the region, photographed on 5 May (Steve Meyers et al.). 

A wintering male Calliope Hummingbird was reported through 8 Apr at a private residence in Augusta Co, VA (Rich Wood). Holdovers from the region’s spate of wintering Rufous Hummingbirds were reported in both Maryland and Virginia. One bird was observed at a private residence in Queen Anne’s Co, MD on 14 Mar (Richard Chirumbole). Rufous Hummingbirds were reported through April in multiple locations in Virginia, including the cities of Charlottesville, Chesapeake, and Roanoke, along with Fairfax and Rappahannock counties.

Clapper Rails rarely stray from salt water, so Virginia’s three inland birds were exceptional. A Clapper Rail that overwintered at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax Co was last seen on 15 Apr (Elia Sanjume); another appeared for a day on the shore of Chris Greene Lake, Albemarle Co on 9 Apr (Guy Babineau), and the third crept through the landscaping at the Virginia State Capitol, City of Richmond 24–27 Apr (John Lindner). Notable for Anne Arundel Co, MD, a pair of King Rails were reported at Wooton’s Landing in Patuxent River Park from 10 Mar to 8 May (Joanne Howl). Rarely detected in the region, up to four calling Yellow Rails were reported 29 Apr–7 May along Chincoteague NWR’s Marsh Trail, Accomack Co, VA (Wes Teets, James Fox, m. ob.). A single Black Rail was detected by an observer in Maryland during the spring period. Outside of the expected Poplar Island population in Talbot Co, Maryland saw three reports of American Avocet. A single bird was seen at Blackwater NWR in Dorchester Co on 20 Mar (George Radcliffe). On 4 May, a pair of birds were reported at North Point State Park in Baltimore Co (Derek Hudgins), and a single bird was found at Patuxent River Naval Air Station on 10 May (Scott Clark).

Shorebirds through Loons

Several reports of Black-bellied Plover came from locations away from the shore in Maryland, representing the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Frederick, Harford, and St. Mary’s. Two different birds were observed three days apart at Violette’s Lock in Montgomery Co, MD, on 22 May (Jared Fisher) and 25 May (Dave Czaplak). In Washington, DC, a flock of 5 Black-bellied Plovers was seen on 22 May at Hains Point (Greg Gough), while a flock of 26 was reported at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens on 29 May (Paul Pisano). 

A flock of 11 Whimbrels was reported on 23 May at Hains Point in Washington, DC (Greg Gough). Maryland saw two reports of this species away from the shore, coming from a private residence in Frederick Co on 24 May (Andy Wilson) and Adam Island in Dorchester Co on 27 May (Kyle Rambo, Ben Springer). Seven Whimbrels flying over Botetourt Center at Greenfield, Botetourt Co, VA on 3 May (Bob Epperson, Mark Johnson) was a good report for the mountains and valleys. A reliable wintering bird in recent years on the Eastern Shore, a Long-billed Curlew was reported on 21 Mar and 12 Apr in Northampton Co, VA at Gull Marsh (m. obs.). 

The region saw a few reports of Ruff during the spring, including one long-staying individual that was last reported on 3 Mar at Ocean City Inlet in Worcester Co, MD (m. obs.). On Mar 21 an individual was found at Blackwater NWR in Dorchester Co, MD (m. obs.). This bird was last reported on 29 Mar. Another Ruff was found at Pemberton Manor in Queen Anne’s Co, MD on 24 Apr (Aaron Graham, Jonathan Irons), staying for just one day. Virginia also produced three spring Ruffs: a Reeve at Princess Anne WMA, City of Virginia Beach, 10 Apr (June McDaniels); another Reeve at Craney Island, City of Portsmouth, 22 Apr (Bill Williams et al.); and a Ruff at Hog Island WMA, Surry Co, 15 May (Nancy Barnhart, Kenneth Barnhart). 

Rare for the city, a Sanderling was reported on the Potomac River, adjacent to National Airport, in Washington, DC on 31 May (Todd Kiraly). Rare on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, the annual overwintering group of Purple Sandpipers in North Beach, Calvert Co, MD continued through 15 Apr (m. obs.). A number of Short-billed Dowitchers were present this season on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. A single bird was found on 1 May at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary in Anne Arundel Co, MD (Jeff Shenot). On 5 May another individual was reported in Montgomery Co, MD at Black Hill Hiker/Biker Trail (m. obs.), sticking around until 10 May. Two additional reports of Short-billed Dowitchers came in on 17 May. A single bird was at North Beach Marsh in Calvert Co, MD (m. obs.), and another bird was detected at a private residence in Washington, DC (Scott Stafford). This report was DC’s first since 23 Jul 2018. Two more Short-billed Dowitchers were reported at North Beach Marsh in Calvert Co on 24 May (Jim Stasz). 

Phalarope season began on 6 May with a report of a female Wilson’s Phalarope from Rumbly Point in Somerset Co, MD (Fred Shaffer). Maryland also laid claim to two additional Wilson’s Phalaropes. A female bird was spotted at Hooper’s Restaurant in West Ocean City, Worcester Co, on 16 May (Kim Abplanalp). In Anne Arundel Co, a pair of birds were briefly seen at Swan Creek Wetland on 25 May (Tim Carney). A male bird spent a single day at Washington, DC’s Constitution Gardens and Reflecting Pool on 9 May (Charles Donnelly). This report of Wilson’s Phalarope is the city’s first since 15 Sept 2017. A single Wilson’s Phalarope was present at Broadway Wastewater Treatment Plant in Rockingham Co, VA on 26–27 May (Matt Gingerich). Red-necked Phalaropes were reported in four Maryland counties. On 21 May two birds were reported from Peerce’s Cove at Loch Raven Reservoir in Baltimore Co, MD (Alina Martin), while another pair turned up on the same day at Piney Reservoir in Garrett Co, MD (Kevin Rinard, Paulett Rinard). A female Red-necked Phalarope was reported on Poplar Island in Talbot Co, MD on 27 May (Matt Hack, Evan Buck). Two reports came in from Violette’s Lock in Montgomery Co, MD. A single female was located on 22 May (David Roberts), while another bird was reported on 30–31 May (Dave Czaplak). Virginia was responsible for 12 reports of Red-necked Phalaropes 18–26 May, with birds present in the following localities: Amherst Co, Loudoun Co, Mecklenburg Co, City of Portsmouth, Rockbridge Co, Rockingham Co (multiple locations), Smyth Co, Spotsylvania Co (multiple locations), and Surry Co.  

A pelagic trip in Virginia on 3 Mar turned up four occasional to rare species in offshore Northampton Co waters: 2 Red Phalaropes, a Great Skua, a Thick-billed Murre, and more than 30 Atlantic Puffins (Baxter Beamer, Andrew Rapp, et al.). A Black-headed Gull was last reported on 6 Mar at Diamond Point Road along the Back River in Baltimore Co, MD (m. obs.). This species overwinters annually at this location. Another bird was in Virginia at Lynnhaven Inlet in the City of Virginia Beach 6 Mar–25 Apr (Andrew White, m. ob.). There were four reports of Little Gulls in Maryland. On 26 Mar at Claiborne Landing in Talbot Co, a single bird was found mixed in with a large flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls (Jeff Effinger). Another bird was located in Havre de Grace, Harford Co on 3 Apr (Bernard Foy). Multiple birds were reported in Baltimore Co, including one, sometimes two, birds at Cox Point Park 5–11 Apr (John Landers) and a single juvenile at Hart-Miller Island on 13 Apr (Tim Carney). A Little Gull was in Fairfax Co, VA (Frederick Atwood) at Lake Fairfax for two days starting on 31 Mar. An adult Franklin’s Gull was seen well on 21 May at Chesapeake Beach Veterans Memorial Park in Calvert Co, MD (Mikey Lutmerding). 

One of the highlights of the spring was a jet-setting adult Heermann’s Gull that briefly stopped on the oceanfront in the City of Virginia Beach, VA on 11–12 May (Justin Fuller, m. ob.) during its travels up and down the Atlantic seaboard. This bird was the first adult ever reported in the Middle Atlantic and Virginia, and only the second overall. Another western species in Virginia Beach: an adult California Gull was photographed 1.5 miles from shore on a boat returning from a 6 Mar pelagic birding trip (Baxter Beamer, Andrew Rapp, et al.). Iceland Gull (Kumlien’s) is an annual visitor to Virginia, and up to two were present at Lynnhaven Inlet in the City of Virginia Beach 2 Mar–2 Apr (Todd Michael Day et al.). Adults, like the one photographed at Fort Monroe in the City of Hampton, VA on 2 Mar (Baxter Beamer, Ian Topolsky), are much rarer. Fort Monroe also attracted a Glaucous Gull and an impressive 325 Lesser Black-backed Gulls 6 Mar (Andrew Baldelli, June McDaniels). Another Glaucous Gull was at Rudee Inlet in the City of Virginia Beach, VA 25 Mar–4 Apr (Rob Bielawski, m. ob.). 

Relatively rare in Maryland, a pair of Gull-billed Terns were reported headed south on 19 May at Assateague Island SP in Worcester Co (Kye Jenkins). More remarkable, a Roseate Tern was scoped in flight over the ocean at Assateague Island National Seashore on 26 May (Fred Shaffer). A Pacific Loon at Lake Holiday in Frederick Co, VA 24 May–4 Jun (Gabriel Ricketts) was a great find for the mountains and valleys. 

Tubenoses through Owls

The previously mentioned 3 Mar pelagic trip in Northampton Co waters was also responsible for five Northern Fulmars (Baxter Beamer, Andrew Rapp, et al.). Favorable winds brought good numbers of Sooty Shearwaters close to shore in late May. In Maryland, Sooty Shearwaters reported on 24 May (David Dorini) put on a great show at Ocean City Inlet in Worcester Co through 28 May. In Virginia, up to seven birds were seen from shore on 24–25 May in the City of Virginia Beach (Andrew Baldelli, m. ob.); at Chincoteague NWR a careful count of northbound birds on 21 May (Baxter Beamer) totaled 107, the second-highest count ever in the state. Strong easterly winds were responsible for a Great Shearwater that was viewed from the shore at Chincoteague NWR on 24 May. 

Very rare this far north, a Magnificent Frigatebird was seen and photographed over Fort Monroe in Hampton Co, VA on 15 Apr (Anna Weaver), and notably was not associated with a major weather event. Two separate reports of Anhinga came in from Montgomery Co, MD during the spring, with the first being a one-day wonder at Hughes Hollow on 16 Apr (Nathan Oliver). On 2 May, what was probably a different bird was reported at the same location (Liza Mahjhrin, Cailean Fandino). This bird was last observed on 18 May. In Virginia, three reports of Anhinga came in west of the coastal plain: a single, flyover bird at James River WMA in Nelson Co on 11 Apr (Ezra Staengl, Theo Staengl); a pair of birds at Harrison Lake in Charles City Co on 31 May (Steve Roble); and continuing birds at a known breeding location at Carson Wetland in Prince George Co (m. obs.).

Annual, but rare, American White Pelicans were reported a handful of times from points along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. In Washington, DC, a single, flyover bird was spotted from Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens on 28 Mar (Matt Winter). On 17 April, a flock of American White Pelicans estimated at 40 birds was spotted on Chicamuxen Creek in Charles Co, MD, which is adjacent to the Potomac River. What were probably birds from the same group were spotted 17–18 Apr from Chapman SP in Charles Co, as well as Occoquan Bay NWR in Prince William Co, VA (m. obs.). More than 10 additional reports of American White Pelicans were noted in both Maryland and Virginia, all in localities near the Chesapeake Bay. 

There were three reports of Tricolored Heron in parts of the region where they are rare, either during the spring or year-round. On 16 Apr, a single bird was photographed at North Beach Marsh in Calvert Co, MD (Daniel Sloan). Two additional Tricolored Herons were observed in May: one at Point Lookout SP, St. Mary’s Co, MD on 21 May (John Gasper), and the other coming at the always-productive Violette’s Lock in Montgomery Co, MD (Jared Fisher). The latter bird was spotted flying in from Loudoun Co, VA. 

Reports of White-faced Ibis have increased in recent years. A single bird was reported on Assateague Island National Seashore in Worcester Co, MD on 29 Apr (Sue Young, Alan Young). Two locations produced White-faced Ibises in Virginia: one smartly photographed at a private farm pond on 5 Apr in Bland Co (Karen Owens, Dean Owens), and up to two birds at Chincoteague NWR on 1–8 May (Todd Michael Day et al., Bill Hohenstein, m. ob.). Given the proximity of the locations and dates, the Assateague and Chincoteague observations may have shared the same birds.   

Observers in Maryland reported two Swallow-tailed Kites in March. The first report came from Darnestown, Montgomery Co on 28 Mar (Jared Fisher), and the second was on 29 Mar at South Point, Worcester Co (Tia Tuvesson). Virginia added three Swallow-tailed Kites to the region: one bird present 9–30 May at Dutch Gap in Chesterfield Co (Arun Bose, m. ob.); two birds at Back Bay NWR in the City of Virginia Beach on 2 May (Ty Smith); and a single flyover at Kiptopeke SP in Northampton Co (Gail Blazer) on 8 May. 

There were multiple reports of Golden Eagle, which is rare in the region away from the mountains. The more notable reports came from Blue Mash Nature Trail in Montgomery Co, MD on 3 Apr (Gail Mackiernan); Fort Smallwood Park in Anne Arundel Co, MD on 16 Mar (m. obs.); and Greenbrier Road in Dorchester Co, MD on 7 Mar (Stephen Davies) and 10 Mar (Fred Shaffer). A single Golden Eagle was reported on 3 Mar at Fletcher’s Cove in DC (David Lauter). Maryland’s first record of Zone-tailed Hawk came on 17 Apr at Marshy Point Nature Center in Baltimore Co (Keith Costley, ph. Kim Tomko). Though many birders were on the ground the following day, the bird was not relocated.

Rough-legged Hawk was reported four times across three Maryland counties. There were two observations in Garrett Co: 2–8 Mar at Peat Moss Road (m. obs.) and 4–17 Mar at Aaron Run Road (Austin Jennings). A bird was reported on 17 Mar on Catoctin Ridge Drive in Frederick Co. Finally, a single bird was present off and on 3 Apr–9 May at the Konterra Drive fields in Prince George’s Co.  

Barn Owls were reported in 12 of Maryland’s counties, including multiple successful breeding pairs. Three Snowy Owls were reported in the region: on 11 March in Essex, Baltimore Co, MD (John Melograna); 17 Apr at Chesapeake Beach Marina in Calvert Co, MD (ph. Jim Stasz); and 30 Apr on Gibson Road in northern Baltimore Co (m. obs.). Two Long-eared Owls were reported during the early part of the spring at a location in Prince George’s Co, MD (m. obs.). In Virginia, observers reported two Long-eared Owls on Laurel Fork Road in Highland Co on 6–11 May (m. obs.) and a single bird was photographed at a closed-access military base in the City of Chesapeake on 15 Mar (Karl Suttmann). The departure date of the annually wintering bird at Blandy Experimental Farm/State Arboretum in Clarke Co, VA was 25 Mar. 

Tyrant Flycatchers through Cardinalidae

On to passerines, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers were reported four times in locations within an hour of Washington, DC. On 2 May, a report came in from Patuxent River Park’s Wooton’s Landing in Anne Arundel Co, MD (Dale Murphy). Another bird was reported at Monticello Park in Alexandria Co, VA on 14 May. On 21 May a bird was seen and photographed at Patapsco Valley SP in Howard Co, MD (Kristin Trouton), and a late migrant was reported on 31 May at Poplar Valley Park in Fairfax Co, VA (Daniel Lebbin). 

Rarely reported away from the mountains in Maryland and Virginia, a single Black-capped Chickadee was observed at Mount Pleasant Farm in Howard Co, MD (Jim Wilkinson). This bird is probably a holdover from this past winter’s irruption of multiple species (more to come on this subject). There were 22 spring reports of Sedge Wren, which is rare in the Middle Atlantic. Bicknell’s Thrushes are rarely reported, or more accurately, rarely assigned to species with 100% confidence within the region during migration. There were four reports, starting with an 11 May report at Tormentor Lake in Isle of Wight Co, VA. Two separate reports came in on 12 May from Calvert Co, MD: a bird that was seemingly returning for the second consecutive year at Merkle Natural Resources Management Area (David Miller) and another bird from a private residence (Mikey Lutmerding). The first Calvert bird was reported through 15 May. On 24 May a bird was noted at a private residence in Frederick Co, MD (Andy Wilson).

The star of the spring was the Middle Atlantic’s first White Wagtail, which drew crowds from the day of its discovery on 12 Apr (Sarah O’Reilly, Caitlin Kufahl, Carolyn Morgan) at Fort Monroe in the City of Hampton, VA, until its departure on 19 Apr (Joan Campbell). The bird was recognized as the White-faced subspecies, and many birders were able to study the bird at close range as it bounced between feeding sessions on the sea wall and the lawn of the former Chamberlin hotel. 

The winter of 2020-2021 saw the best irruption of Evening Grosbeaks in a generation, with birds being reported well into May. There were more than 100 reports of this species during the spring. Common Redpoll experienced a more moderate irruption, with observers noting up to 20 birds through 19 March at Peat Moss Road in Garrett Co, MD (m. obs.); 8 birds at Bob’s Hill on 7 Mar in Frederick Co, MD (Ross Geredien); a single bird at a private residence in Baltimore Co, MD on 7 Mar (Tim Heffner); 3 birds at Hughes Hollow-McKee Beshers WMA in Montgomery Co, MD on 9 Mar (Johnnie Ramos); and a single bird at a private residence in James City Co, VA on 11 Mar (Carol O’Neil).

An expected bird in the mountains of Virginia, Red Crossbills are rare elsewhere in the region. Three birds were reported at Billmeyer WMA in Allegany Co, MD on 28 Apr (Jerald Reb); 2 birds along Elliott Island Road in Dorchester Co, MD on 18 Apr (George Radcliffe); 7 birds at Ed Jones Road in Albemarle Co, VA 7–8 Apr (Drew Chaney); a flock of 35 birds at Great Dismal Swamp NWR in the City of Chesapeake, VA on 4 May (Sarah Toner); and 3 birds at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC on 15 May (m. obs.). A small flock of birds were present 13 Mar–20 May at Chincoteague NWR in Accomack Co, VA (m. obs.). While irruptive White-winged Crossbills made less of an impact in the Middle Atlantic during the past year, there are two reports from Maryland to share. First reported on 20 Mar, a female White-winged Crossbill remained at a private feeder in Howard Co off and on until 9 Apr (Howard Patterson). Another bird was reported at a private residence in Washington Co for two days starting on 17 Apr (Denny Spickler). A late, female Snow Bunting was reported in Chesapeake Beach, Calvert Co, MD on 27 Mar (Mikey Lutmerding). 

Clay-colored Sparrows are hard to find in the spring, so an overwintering bird at a Harris Teeter in Virginia Beach that remained until 19 Apr (Rob Bielawksi) was a good find. Rare for the location and date, a Nelson’s Sparrow was observed on 31 May at Franklin Point SP in Anne Arundel Co, MD (Frank Marenghi, Henry Dwyer). The region’s only Yellow-headed Blackbird of the spring (fide eBird, m. ob.) visited a private feeder in Chesterfield Co, VA 11–18 Apr. Virginia bird feeders attracted three Bullock’s Orioles this spring: a long-staying bird in Fairfax Co 13 Mar–18 Apr (Chuck Feerick); an overwintering bird in the City of Virginia Beach that made one spring appearance on 17 Mar (Bob Zabot); and also in Virginia Beach, a one-day wonder on 14 April (Keith Roberts). Three Brewer’s Blackbirds were still at their regular wintering location at Breeze Farms in the City of Virginia Beach, VA on 25 Mar (Reuben Rohn) and another was picked out of a blackbird flock at a private residence in Augusta Co, VA on 26 Mar (Herbert Larner). 

Moving on to Parulidae, there were two sightings of the very rare “Sutton’s” Warbler, a Northern Parula x Yellow-throated Warbler hybrid. One bird was present at Lake Roland in Baltimore Co, MD 15–26 Apr (George Poscover). Another bird was reported on 6 May at Observatory Mountain in Albemarle Co, VA (m. obs.). A Townsend’s Warbler, continuing from the winter, was last reported at a Baltimore Co, MD private residence on 26 Apr (m. obs.). Overwintering Western Tanagers in Virginia continued through 21 Mar at three private residences in York Co, Gloucester Co, and the City of Virginia Beach (m. obs.). An unprecedented number of Painted Buntings overwintered in the region. Most of these birds were found at private residences. Maryland saw spring stragglers in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Dorchester, Frederick, and Howard counties, with the last bird being reported on 23 Apr. In Virginia, the last overwintering Painted Bunting was reported on 10 Apr at a private residence in the City of Virginia Beach. Additional spring holdovers include individuals at two separate locations in Virginia Beach; single individuals in Isle of Wight, Hampton, and Chesapeake counties; and two different birds at a private residence and Villa Lee Park in Fairfax Co (m. obs.). A big thank you to all of the homeowners who allowed birders to see this remarkable species. 

Photos–Middle Atlantic: Spring 2021

Click image to view fullscreen with caption.