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.
Project FeederWatch is the easiest citizen science you will ever do! From the comfort of your home, you simply count the winter birds that visit your feeders and report your data to Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Join Phil Silas, the Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count compiler, to learn about this long-running citizen science bird survey. Phil will cover its purpose, and scope, explain how we organize our CBC and show where the data goes and how it is used.
**WAIT LIST ONLY!** With over 1,900 avian species—more than any other country in the world—Colombia is a birder’s paradise waiting to be discovered. This 10-day program focuses on the highlights of the Central Andes region, famed for its high level of species diversity, including the Nevado del Ruiz, Rio Blanco Reserve, and Otún Quimbaya Fauna and Flora Sanctuary.
On September 22, ASNV awarded James (Jim) Waggener National Audubon Society’s prestigious Great Egret Award in recognition of his outstanding citizen science contribution. Jim is only the second person from ASNV to receive this award.
The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a bird-a-thon—participants tally bird species seen or heard within a given time period. It’s called the Big Sit for a good reason—it’s like a tailgate party for birders. Bring a chair and your binoculars. Snacks will be provided.
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 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.
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.
Virginians will elect the entire state legislature and many local officials on November 5. Between now and November 5 is the time to ask candidates at the state and local level how they intend to support conservation.
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.
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.