October 2017

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In This Newsletter

  • President's Corner
  • Meadowood Bird and Butterfly Big Sit!
  • ASNV Bird Checklists Updated
  • October Audubon Afternoon
  • Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count
  • Take Action
  • Bird Walks
  • Recurring Bird Walks
  • Cuba Trip - Still Some Slots
  • Other News


Conservation Counts

Join Jim Waggener in his ongoing natural resource surveys at two of Northern Virginia's best birding spots. Surveys alternate between Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area on Mason Neck. From April through October, surveys are conducted primarily for butterflies and dragonflies at those two locations and two others—Occoquan Regional Park and Julie J. Metz Memorial Wetlands Preserve.

Each survey is limited to four participants, and reservations are required. More information is available on the ASNV website.

Contact Jim for more details or to reserve your space.

Meadowood on Mason Neck 

(7:30 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • October 11
  • November 15

Occoquan Bay NWR 

(7:30 AM - 12:00 PM)
  • October 25
  • November 29

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys 

(8:30 AM - 12:30 PM)
  • Occoquan Bay NWR - Oct 6
  • Meadwood - Oct 13
  • Metz - Oct 20
  • Occoquan Regional Park - Oct 27
    (last scheduled survey until April)
Any survey may be changed or canceled for weather, etc. up to an hour before the scheduled start.

Make a Difference!  
Speak up!


E-Activist Network

The National Audubon Society invites all Auduboners to join their  e-activist network. When you subscribe to their newsletter, you'll receive alerts about important Congressional actions and information about how you can affect legislation by contacting your Members of Congress.

Climate Change

We also need passionate volunteers across Virginia who can help us persuade our elected officials to support actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you would like to help us make a difference with climate change and other important issues, please contact Glenda Booth.

Audubon at Home

People-oriented volunteers are needed to help spread the word about the Audubon At Home Wildlife Sanctuary Program at community and regional events. We schedule the dates, provide all the materials, and brief you on our message -- you supply the enthusiasm!
To volunteer or for more information, contact the ASNV office.

President's Corner

I have to admit I haven’t been very diligent about watching my yard for migrants, but I have seen a few – a Common Yellowthroat has been the highlight so far.  We were also visited by a quartet of crows, possibly on the move, I guess.  They are unusual visitors to our garden, although of course we see them in the air all the time.  They didn’t make a peep, so I can’t tell you what kind of crows they were.  So big and glossy!  Although at least one must have been a youngster since it was being fed tidbits by a presumed parent.   

Special thanks to Dixie Sommers for her energy and leadership getting out an updated version of our Mid-Atlantic checklist, and thanks to contributors Tom Blackburn, Greg Butcher, Greg Fleming, and Laura McDonald.  Much needed—we hadn’t updated it since 2006!  Dixie and team have also issued a new version of our Northern Virginia checklist.

Reminders:  Have a good month.
Carl Kikuchi      

Meadowood Bird and Butterfly Big Sit!

October 7, 2017 - 8 AM - 4 PM

Join Audubon Society Northern Virginia and Meadowood BLM staff from 8 AM - 4 PM on Saturday, October 7. We'll be at our count circle by the pollinator garden located at the Mustang Loop Trail parking lot (10702 Harley Road, Lorton, VA 22079; at the intersection of Gunston and Harley Roads) recording all the birds seen and heard. As a bonus we'll note any butterfly species that we see too!

The Big Sit! is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding day sponsored by Bird Watcher's Digest and Swarovski Optics. This family fun event was founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club to promote birds and the birding community.

The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a Bird-a-thon—to tally as many bird species that can been seen or heard within a given period of time. The difference lies in the area limitation from which you may observe—it's like a tailgate party for birders.

Bring a chair and your binoculars, snacks will be provided. You may also join us on a guided bird walk or participate in a kid friendly activity. The bird walks will originate at the count circle at 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM. This event is FREE of charge and open to the public.

For more information, watch a video about the Big Sit!

ASNV Bird Checklists Updated

We have updated our Northern Virginia and Mid-Atlantic Area bird checklists. Both are available on our website including information on their use and how they were created.

The checklists now use the newest information from the American Ornithological Society (AOS). These include changes in common and scientific names, splits and “lumps” of species, and changes in the order in which the species are presented.

The most recent AOS update was published in July, with one species change affecting our area:  Thayer’s Gull was combined with Iceland Gull, making Thayer’s a subspecies.

More noticeable are changes in the species order because of family and genus changes.  Read More...

October Audubon Afternoon


Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird

Sunday, October 22 2017, 3:00 - 5:00 PM
Just in time for Halloween!  Vultures are often overlooked, underappreciated, and unloved, despite the vital role they play healthy ecosystems. Worldwide, vultures are more likely to be threatened or endangered than any other group of raptor, but in the United States turkey and black vultures may be increasing in number. Based on Katie Fallon’s new book, this presentation will discuss the life and times of the noble turkey vulture, including its feeding, nesting, and roosting habits, migratory behaviors, and common misconceptions.
Katie Fallon is the author of Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird (2017) and, previously, Cerulean Blues:  A Personal Search for a Vanishing Songbird (2011), which
was a finalist for the Reed Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern Environment. She is also the author of two books for children, Look, See the Bird! (June 2017) and Look, See the Farm! (forthcoming 2018). She is co-founder of the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving the region’s wild birds through research, education, and rehabilitation. Her first word was “bird.”

The meeting will be held at the National Wildlife Center:

National Wildlife Federation Building
11100 Wildlife Center Dr.
Reston, VA 20190

Photo: Black Vulture by Dennis Church (Flickr)                     

Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count

Christmas Bird Count

December 17, 2017

Join us for the 118th annual Christmas Bird Count (36th for ASNV).  We are looking for people to count in the Manassas Battlefield area, Bull Run, and Manassas City areas as well as around Centerville, south of Dulles Airport, and Chantilly on Sunday, December 17th.  This year, we will again be offering an opportunity for feeder watchers.  If you or someone you know lives in the count circle and cannot go on the count, he or she can sit inside and count the birds that come to a feeder or yard on count day as another way to participate.  If you helped us last year, your sector leader will be contacting you in November.  If you are new to our CBC and want to volunteer or would like to be in a different sector, click here.

CBC Workshop

November 2 2017

Come to our free CBC Workshop where you can learn about CBCs generally, our own CBC in particular, where the data goes and how it is used, and tips for learning or brushing up on your counting skills.  It’s on Thursday evening, November 2nd .  Time is 7 PM; place is the NWF building, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr, Reston.  Please sign up here.

Take Action


Alexandria’s Environmental Action Plan

The Alexandria Enviromental Policy Commission (EPC), whose members are appointed by the city council, is updating the city's environmental action plan (EAP). The first set of recommendations will go to the City Council in May or June 2018.
Jim Kapsis, the chairman of the EPC emailed, “I would like to ensure that the entire local environmental community is very involved in the update of the EAP.”  This is a good opportunity to influence public policy in the city.  If any Alexandria Auduboners would like to get involved, contact Glenda Booth.

Birds Colliding with Buildings

Up to one billion birds collide with glass and are killed every year in the U.S., according to the American Bird Conservancy.  A group in Washington, D.C., including City Wildlife, is conducting a “lights out” fall monitoring project, gathering data on building strikes by looking for dead or injured birds along preset routes in the city early in the morning.  Data can help convince managers at problem buildings and government officials to reduce bird collisions.  You can learn more here.  Some Fairfax County officials recently met with American Bird Conservancy experts to learn about bird-friendly building design.  If anyone would like to conduct a similar project in Northern Virginia, contact Glenda Booth.  

Never Too Early to Prepare for the State Legislature

December 2, 2017

Save the date, December 2 for the Virginia Conservation Network’s annual gathering in Richmond to prepare for the 2018 session of the Virginia General Assembly.  Experts will brief volunteers on expected pro- and anti-conservation legislation.  Visit www.vcnva.org .  And heads up—VCN’s annual conservation lobby day will be January 22, 2018.  There will no doubt be many changes in the state government, with a new governor and some new legislators.

Elect Conservation-minded People

It’s never too early to get involved and to educate candidates about conservation and the value of our natural resources.  On November 7, Virginians will elect a governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and all 100 members of the Virginia House of Delegates.  To learn more, including candidates who have filed, visit Virginia Elections.  


Bird Walks


Wolf Trap Park, Vienna, VA

Sunday, October 8 - 9:00 to 11:30 AM

Wolf Trap is more than music!  We’ll follow the trail along the park’s streams and hills, as well as birding the pollinator meadow. John Lovaas and Jean Tatalias lead.  Sponsored by ASNV, Wolf Trap National Park, and the Friends of Wolf Trap.

Getting there: From Rt. 7, take Towlston Rd. to the park and go to the main entrance to the Filene Center. Park around the circle or in the lower lot if the circle is full.  Meet at the Filene Center Box Office.

Bles Park, Ashburn, VA

Wednesday, October 11 - 8:30 to 11:00

Enjoy a leisurely walk around the creeks and central wetland of this beautiful park with field edges and majestic trees.  Jean Tatalias leads. Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.  

Getting there: From the intersection of VA Route 28 and VA Route 7, travel west on Rt. 7 for 1.3 miles and turn right onto Loudoun County Parkway. Turn right on George Washington Blvd., then left on Riverside Pkwy. Bles Park will be on your right at the end of Riverside Pkwy.

Upper Glade Stream Valley, Reston, VA

Sunday, October 15 - 7:30 to 10:30 AM

What a beautiful time of year to walk through the woods and enjoy autumn birding! Jenny Vick leads.  Sponsored by the Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston.

Getting there:   From I-66 west, take exit 60 to go north on Rte 123.  Turn left on Hunters Mill Road/ Route 674.  Turn left on Lawyers Road, Route 673.  Turn right on Twin Branches Road.  Turn left on Glade Road.  Follow Glade to just past Soapstone Dr and park at Glade Pool on the right.  11550 Glade Drive.

Stuart’s Hill, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Manassas, VA

Sunday, October 22 - 8:00 to 11:00

Our route will take us past fields and into mixed forest. Different terrains should yield a good variety of species. Toby Hardwick leads. Sponsored by ASNV.

Getting there:  Travel west on I-66 to Exit 47B, Route 234 North (Sudley Road). Proceed past the turnoff to the visitor center and turn left on Route 29 (Lee Highway). At the west end of the park, turn left (South) on Pageland Lane.  Look for the left turn to the Park Headquarters and Stuart Hill Center parking lot. 

Burke Lake Park, Burke, VA

Wednesday, October 25 - 8:30 to 11:00

We’ll walk the wooded trail around the edge of the lake and then drive to the boat ramp to check the lake there.  Jean Tatalias leads.  Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there: Entrance is off Route 123, south of Burke Lake Road.  Follow signs to Park, turning left at second traffic light.  Take an immediate left in the park, then meet at the lot on the right (near the mini golf course). 7315 Ox Road, Fairfax Station, 22039.

Theodore Roosevelt Island, DC

Sunday, October 29 - 8:00 am to 9:30 am

Join the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt Island for a bird walk led by Dixie Sommers as part of a daylong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the island's dedication. Co-sponsored by the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. Registration required. See site for location and registration. Register here.

Cub Run Stream Valley Park, Centreville, VA

Wednesday, November 15 - 8:30 AM to 11:00 AM

Come check out this new bird walk location along the stream in this Fairfax County Park.  Phil Silas leads. Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club.

Getting there: Address is between 15075 and 15077 Stillfield Place, Centreville. Take I-66 West to exit 52 and go right on Rte. 29 for about 1.25 miles. Turn right on Pleasant Valley Road. Proceed north for about 0.75 miles and turn right on Stillfield Place.  Proceed about 0.7 miles to meeting place on the right. 

Recurring Bird Walks

Several parks in the area have established year-round weekly bird walks. These walks are not run by ASNV, but may be of interest to ASNV members. They can be found here.                          

Cuba Trip - Still Some Slots

We still have 3 slots available on ASNV’s Cuba birding trip, December 6-15, 2017.  Visit Havana, the Zapata Peninsula, the north coast at Caya Coco, and places in between.  You’ll encounter many of Cuba’s 25 endemic birds, wintering migrants, and many more. You’ll also see Hemingway’s home near Havana and plenty of 1950’s cars! 

Our trip is through Holbrook Travel. Details and how to sign up are here. Wondering about the President’s change in U.S. policy toward Cuba?  Holbrook reviews the details here.    

Photo: Old Car in Havana - Marilyn Gaizband

Other News


Bird Feeder in Reston

This store offers a 10% discount to current ASNV members, good on all purchases excluding optics and sale merchandise. When you visit, just tell them you are a member of ASNV and ask for the discount. 
1675 Reston Pkwy, Ste J, Reston, VA 20194. (703) 437-3335