Vulnerable Bird Species in Virginia

Our lack of findings of bird mortality incidences around UVA buildings led us to research the overlap between birds commonly affected by building lights and the common species of birds found in Charlottesville. According to a featured article in the March 16th, 2014 edition of the Washington Post Magazine, scientists now know the top bird species that are most vulnerable to death by buildings because of the rescue and collection efforts of Lights Out programs across the U.S. (Houppert 2014). We listed the top 5 species nationwide, along with the top 7 species found specifically in Baltimore and DC, due to these cities’ proximity to our region that we are investigating. We compared these species to the Monticello Bird Club’s “A Birder’s Guide to Charlottesville, Virginia and Vicinity” to see whether or not these species were common in our area during the Spring season, since that is the season where our observations took place.

As our table shows, four of the eleven species we looked into are rare or uncommon in Charlottesville during the Spring (Klotz 2010). However, the majority of the species that are often found dead due to lights are indeed common to the Charlottesville area (Klotz 2010). This indicates that vulnerable species do exist in Charlottesville, so there must be another reason for our lack of findings. Now that we know which species are commonly found dead, we will look more into these specific species’ migratory habits to see whether that could be the reason that we have yet to find any around our buildings. It is possible and looks hopeful that Nau Hall and Campbell Hall actually do not pose a problem for migratory birds.

Bird Species

Presence in Charlottesville/Albemarle in the Spring

Most common birds found by Lights Out nationwide

Black-throated blue warbler Common
Ruby-throated hummingbird Common
Golden-winged warbler Rare
Brown creeper Uncommon

Most common birds found dead by Lights Out Baltimore and DC

White-throated sparrow Common
Common yellowthroat Common
Ovenbird Common
Gray catbird Common
Song sparrow Common
American woodcock Uncommon
Swamp sparrow Uncommon

Source: Houppert 2014

Source: Colganazar.
Source: Colganazar.

Works Cited

Colganazar, Kelly. White-throated Sparrow. Digital image. All About Birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.

Houppert, Karen. “Lights Out.” Washington Post Magazine 16 Mar. 2014: 20-25. Web.

Klotz, Ken. A Birder’s Guide to Charlottesville, Virginia and Vicinity. Charlottesville: Monticello Bird Club, 2010. Print.

Post by Katherine Roderick and Susannah Saunders