The article in the May 21 edition of Southern Maryland News titled “Keep those Pax River bird sightings coming” only touched on a tiny part of the much larger Maryland/D.C. Breeding Bird Atlas. As the county coordinator for St. Mary’s County, I can speak for the Calvert and Charles coordinators that we are actively seeking the public’s help in documenting breeding birds wherever you live in Southern Maryland.

It helps if you know your local birds well, particularly those that may be coming to bird feeders in your yard. This is a great time of year to confirm some of what I like to call “low hanging fruit” like Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, Carolina wren, eastern bluebird, etc. The young birds are often loud when they are recently fledged and begging for food from adults.

At our feeders, we’re likely to see baby northern cardinals (they have dark bills compared to the red bill of the adults) literally standing on sunflower seeds that they don’t know how to shell. Mom and Dad will patiently hull the sunflower kernels and stuff them into Junior standing next to them.

I’ve heard many Carolina chickadees begging for food in the last week or two. I’m always surprised that some raptor doesn’t eat them. These feeding behaviors all count toward proof for the Breeding Bird Atlas, as does nest-building (adult birds carrying nesting material).

Also, if you live near the water, it may be easy for you to spot osprey and bald eagle nests. In St. Mary’s County, we have confirmed breeding of osprey in almost all atlas blocks south of the Hollywood/Leonardtown Road east—west line.

If you’d like to get involved, or just have some breeding bird data that you’d like to pass on, please contact one of the county coordinators:

St. Mary’s County: Tyler Bell at;

Calvert County: Sherman Suter at;

Charles County: Lynne Wheeler at

And, the link that will take you to the atlas project home page is

Tyler Bell, California