This year’s annual Audubon Photography Awards contest attracted 2,253 entrants from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Kathrin (“Kathy”) Swoboda, of Vienna, VA, won the grand prize for her photo of a Red-winged Blackbird seeming to blow smoke rings. Kathy is an amateur photographer who started photographing birds about seven years ago in her backyard, which is beside a park.
On the weekend of August 17 – 18, sixteen ASNV members headed east to Calvert County Maryland for a fun summer weekend. Only an hour and a half from Northern Virginia, our first stop was the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, where we were greeted with the call of a Piliated Woodpecker, as we walked under the canopy of majestic cypress. A gently flowing stream under a boardwalk revealed fresh deer and raccoon tracks while blooming cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) provided bright red color to the serene setting.
Join us on Thursday, September 26 for Stacia Novy’s presentation on birds-of-prey. She will discuss flight characteristics, identification and migration patterns, focusing on raptor species of the East Coast region. The presentation will be followed by a field trip to Waggoner’s Gap, PA on Saturday, September 28 for a day of hawk watching. We’ll apply knowledge learned in the workshop by observing kettles of Broad-winged Hawks, falcons, and other migrant raptors making their way south for the winter.
Are you new to birding and want to learn more or just want to dig deeper into the subject? Then this class is for you! This course is designed to include beginners, but it is by no means restricted to them.
Save the date for our next Audubon Afternoon & Silent Auction, Sunday September 22, 2:30 PM – 5:00 PM. Join us as we welcome Leslie Ries and Elise Larson from the Ries Lab of Butterfly Informatics at Georgetown University. We’ll learn about their current research and get an update on ASNV’s citizen science surveys.
On August 7, over 100 people attended Plant NOVA Natives’ (PNN) first native plants conference for professionals, including representatives from 39 professional landscaping companies. PNN (outreach partner of Audubon at Home) and AAH collaborated to obtain “seed money” for the conference from Transurban’s Express Lanes Community Grant Program.
Given how much of the planting in Northern Virginia is done by landscaping professionals, Plant NOVA Natives, which is Audubon at Home’s outreach partner, is sponsoring a conference to educate landscape professionals on the value of native plants. If you know any landscape designers, architects, or other landscape professionals who might be interested, please point them to this invitation.
The Audubon at Home program is happy to announce that the Reston Association's Central Services Facility (CSF) native plant garden has achieved certification as a Wildlife Sanctuary. RA developed this 3 acre site to serve as a demonstration site to educate Metro developers on how native plants can be integrated into areas near Metro stations.
What are the environmental challenges facing Virginia and its localities? Join your friends in Richmond on October 11 and 12 for the Virginia Environmental Assembly, sponsored by the Virginia Conservation Network.
Virginians will elect the entire Virginia General Assembly this year and local officials in some jurisdictions. It’s important to elect candidates who support conservation and the environment. Primary elections to elect the candidates for the Democratic Party in all jurisdictions and for the Republican Party in some jurisdictions will be held on June 11. Information on the election and candidates can be found on the website for each county and city.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is developing an energy and climate action plan and expects to invite assistance from our local organizations, as Board Chair Sharon Bulova wrote to ASNV, “to encourage community engagement and input . . . it is encouraging that the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia is willing to assist in the creation of the plan.” The schedule and next steps have not been announced.
On April 2, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County School Board formed a joint task force to discuss ways to collaborate on initiatives related to climate and energy, called the Joint Environmental Task Force (JET). Members of both the Board of Supervisors and the School Board will serve on this committee.
The loggerhead shrike, or butcher bird, has seriously declined over the last half century, with current numbers estimated to be only a quarter of what they were in 1966. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is currently working to understand what is driving the decline.
Spending six days on Hog Island, Maine was one of the most meaningful, educational experiences I have ever had. From the moment we stepped off the boat from the mainland, we were immersed in a rich environment of natural wonder, forming new relationships, and inspired by the passion and knowledge of the camp staff and our fellow educators who arrived from all over the country.
Are you an educator who would like to learn practical approaches to environmental education in a wonderful outdoor setting? Apply now for ASNV scholarship to attend National Audubon Society’s Educator’s Week at its Hog Island Camp in Maine!
ASNV is taking applications from public school educators for an all-expenses paid week of professional development, plus transportation, at National Audubon Society’s Hog Island Camp in Maine this summer.
Each summer Audubon Society of Northern Virginia offers a full scholarship and transportation to “Sharing Nature: An Educator’s Week” at National Audubon Society’s Hog Island Camp in Maine. Applicants must be classroom teachers, specialists, or school administrators working in: Alexandria City, Falls Church City, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun or Prince William counties.
Audubon Society of Northern Virginia provides speakers, staffs tables at events and/or provides materials for organizations interested in our mission and programs. Please use this link to make your request and submit it at least two weeks before your event.
We will follow up with you within 3 business days to schedule stating whether or not we can meet your request and to discuss details to ensure a successful event.
In the 19th century, a curious phenomenon stumped European bird watchers and zoologists. Why did some species of birds disappear and then reappear every year? People back then had no way to track birds as they traveled long distances, so they had to come to their own conclusions.
Brown-headed Cowbirds love cows. True to their name, they can often be found alongside herds of cattle or horses, eating insects that much larger animals flush from the grass. Historically, Brown-headed Cowbirds followed bison herds across the Great Plains, but the spread of livestock farming has expanded their range across North America.
A few years ago, while I was at the dentist’s, I looked out the window and saw a welcome distraction: a Northern Mockingbird landed on a telephone pole, jumped a few feet in the air, and then gracefully fluttered back down. It repeated this behavior for several minutes.
The Spotted Owl just can’t get a break. Endemic to old-growth forests in the Pacific North west, the endangered owl’s population was already declining due to deforestation, but now they have been forced to accommodate an inconsiderate guest: Barred Owls. Native to the eastern half of North America, the Barred Owl’s territory has been expanding westward since the turn of the last century.
This past February, a very unusual Northern Cardinal was spotted in Erie, Pennsylvania. Its right side is brilliantly red, while its left side is a modest brown, with both sides perfectly split down the middle. The reason for the color split is remarkable; the left side is biologically female, while the right side is biologically male. Genetically, the two halves are as closely related as brother and sister.
Turkey vultures, also known as turkey buzzards, are a common sight throughout the state of Virginia. As one of the most widespread birds in the western hemisphere, their range extends west to California and south to the tip of South America. Turkey vultures are often seen gliding on thermals, buoyed by a wingspan that can reach up to seven feet.