October 2018

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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 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.)
  • Oct 17
  • Nov 14

Occoquan Bay NWR 

(7:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.)
  • Oct 31
  • Nov 28

Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys 

(8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)
  • Oct 5 - Meadowood
  • Oct 12 - Metz Wetlands Preserve
  • Oct 19 - Occoquan Regional Park
  • Oct 26 - Occoquan Bay NWR (last scheduled B&D survey until April)

Make a Difference!  
Speak Up!


E-Activist Network 
Volunteers Needed

The National Audubon Society invites all Auduboners to join its e-activist network. When you subscribe to the Society’s 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 persuade elected officials to support actions designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you would like to help 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

The seasonal shift into fall is a welcome one—the weather a little cooler and, hopefully, a lot drier after what seemed like daily summer rain.  By July, Virginia rainfall matched the total for all of 2017.  And then came the August and September storms!

With the advent of autumn, the avian clamor of summer nesting season may be gone, but autumn offers us an excellent opportunity to support birds during migration. Each year my wife and I remind ourselves not to be too obsessive about making our garden beds immaculate. The coneflowers have now faded from pink to brownish black, but they have taken on an even more appealing flash of color—goldfinches in acrobatic postures clinging to these dying flowers and profiting from the wealth of seeds. 

Our zinnias are nearly as good at attracting birds. Each year, we accept the inevitability of seed-eaters pulling petals off the flowers to get at the seeds; we have learned to enjoy the flowers AND the birds. We leave spent flowers on as long as possible to nourish birds fattening up for impossibly long journeys to Central and South America. 

Recently, when we hadn’t seen our hummingbirds for a week, we took in our nectar feeder. But then we saw a little green beauty on our cardinal flowers, so out went the feeder again. My cousin in rural Tennessee uses a generous gallon of nectar every day to refill her 20 feeders during hummingbird season. Sitting on her porch with 40 or more hummers buzzing past your head and jockeying for position at the feeders can be a little daunting. But she’s doing her part to fuel their southward migration while marveling at their aerial skills. 

Not everyone has the time or energy for that sort of commitment, but you can do more for birds even when doing less. Plus, you have an incentive, not just an excuse, for being a little lazy and putting off that garden cleanup for a few more days. So sit back, preferably outside, and enjoy your autumn day with the birds!
Tom Blackburn    

Go with ASNV to Panama:
Birding from Valleys to Shores

Sign up soon for ASNV’s eight-day, seven-night birding adventure in Panama, including two nights at Canopy Tower, three nights at Canopy Lodge, and two nights at Gamboa Rainforest Resort.

Details of the trip, including itinerary, pricing and other information, can be found at: holbrook.travel/asnv-pn19, where you also can download the trip brochure and sign up for this birding adventure.  

Contact Gerry Abbott (gerry@gerryabbott.net) if you have questions.

Broad-billed Motmot


With more bird species than any other Central America nation, and with diverse ecosystems ranging from rainforest to coastline, Panama is a perfect destination for bird and nature lovers.  Accompanied by an expert local birding guide, you’ll discover Panama’s tropical ecology and biological diversity while learning about current efforts to protect the country’s important wildlife habitats.  Visit many well-known birding trails, woodland habitats, tropical rainforests, and the iconic Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal.


  • Explore Soberanía National Park, home to 525 bird species, and hike the world-famous Pipeline Road.
  • Seek out target species such as the Blue Cotinga, Snowcap, endemic Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker, raptors, tanagers, and more.
  • Ascend a 130-foot tower for an eye-to-eye look at species seldom seen below the rainforest’s canopy layer.
  • Visit the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center and watch for the 14 hummingbird species that observers have recorded at center feeders.

Call for Volunteers

Can You Help Us?

ASNV needs volunteers to help spread its message about enjoying and protecting our birds and natural resources. We particularly need help in the following areas:
  • Writing:  Would you like to provide content for the website and newsletter that can help shape and spread the ASNV message on behalf of birds?
  • Advocacy:  ASNV serves communities throughout Northern Virginia. Would you like to help monitor your state and local government, tell us about issues of concern, and help us recommend conservation measures in your community? We need assistance from volunteers to keep us informed about all the jurisdictions where we have members.   
If you would like to join other volunteers who help ASNV with writing, advocacy or any other activity that supports ASNV’s mission, please drop us a note at info@audubonva.org. And if you would like to work on advocacy issues, tell us which jurisdiction you would like to focus on. You’ll be glad you did! 


Tabling/Speaking Events Coordinator Opportunity

Audubon at Home (AAH) seeks a volunteer to coordinate—via Internet and telephone—requests for tabling events and AAH speakers. This volunteer will:
  • track incoming requests for tabling events and speaking engagements via AAH's online system;
  • coordinate logistics with event personnel;
  • with ASNV staff, coordinate the printing and organization of event materials (brochures, handouts, giveaways, activities, signup sheets, banners, signs, etc.) and their distribution and return;
  • publicize volunteer opportunities, and contact and confirm volunteers; and
  • collect feedback from volunteers after the event on engagement level, what worked/what didn't work, and suggested improvements to process and materials
Estimated time commitment: 2 hours per week from March through May and from August through November. 
Please contact AAH@audubonva.org.


Application Support

Do you have database and/or application configuration experience? The Audubon at Home program uses salesforce.com, online forms, and google sheets to track its work with clients and volunteers and needs helping hands to keep up with application configuration, data integration, and reporting. Curious and want to know how you can help? Contact aah@audubonva.org to discuss the particulars. 




Manassas-Bull Run 2018 Christmas Bird Count

Sign Up for the 37th Annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count!

The Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will take place Sunday, December 16th. The center of the 15-mile-diameter count circle is near the intersection of Routes 28 and 29 in Centreville. Birders of all skill levels are needed. A complimentary hot lunch will be available to participants.

If you participated last year, your sector or route leader ought to be in touch soon. If you don’t hear from anyone, or if you’d like to be in a different sector, contact Phil Silas.

We’ll also be offering an opportunity for feeder watchers. If you or someone you know lives within the count circle and cannot attend the count, then participate indoors on count day by tallying birds that come to a feeder or yard.

Signing up is easy! Just contact Phil Silas with your phone, email, and birder level (B=Beginner, I=Intermediate, E=Expert), and any notes or comments.

New to the count or just want to brush up on your survey skills? Join us for our free CBC Workshop. You will learn the history, how, and why of this citizen science endeavor. The workshop will be Sunday, December 2 at 2 p.m. at the National Wildlife Federation Building, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive, Reston. To register, click here.


Audubon at Home's Summer Intern

Audubon at Home (AAH) extends a hearty thank you to summer intern Spencer Powell, who greatly aided AAH by organizing critical programmatic materials, including the newly revised Wildlife Sanctuary Species page.


Audubon at Home
Offers Instructional Field Trips

Audubon at Home (AAH) ambassadors joined AAH Loudoun County Coordinator Anne Owen (at right in photograph below) at her home on soggy September 23 to see and discuss how, in only two years, she transformed spaces in her Leesburg yard into havens for wildlife. 

Landscape designers Susan Abraham and Leslie Solitario and former Loudoun AAH Coordinator Ann Garvey also provided insights into how to replace sterile builder plantings with attractive native plants and how to manage storm-water issues. We thank them all for their contributions.

Upcoming Classes


Learning the Little Brown Jobs

Have you been wondering about all those “little brown jobs” in your backyard? Could you use a little help distinguishing between the House Finches and the Pine Siskins? Song Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows? This workshop will concentrate on identification skills for some of the finches, sparrows, and other similar birds in our region, including both residents and migrants, just in time for the arrival of our cold weather birds.  Limit: 25 participants. Click here to register.

Cost:  $30 for members, $40 for non-members

Classroom:  Thursday, November 8, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Fairfax High School, 3501 Rebel Run, Fairfax, VA 22030.  Room TBA.

Field Trip:  Saturday, November 10, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Location TBA.                                              
Instructor:  Larry Meade is president of the Northern Virginia Bird Club and a former board member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology.  He has served as a sector leader for a number of years for several local Christmas Bird Counts and is an avid nature photographer (http://uberlarry.smugmug.com/).


Citizen Science

Sign Up for Project Feederwatch

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.

This FREE workshop will cover a bit of the history of Project Feederwatch, its purpose, tips for identifying birds, and the protocols to be followed while counting. We’ll spend some time practicing with the birds at the ASNV feeders.  

Classroom:  Saturday, October 27, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Instructor:  Carol Hadlock, volunteer extraordinaire and pioneer with the Audubon at Home program, will instruct this workshop.  
Although the workshop is FREE, registration is required.

The Big Sit Is Almost Here

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—participants tally bird species seen or heard within a given time period.  The difference lies in the limited area from which you make your observations.  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.  You also may go with us on a guided bird walk or participate in a kid-friendly activity.  This event is FREE of charge and open to the public.

        Join ASNV and Meadowood Bureau of Land Management staff at:
        Meadowood Special Recreation Management Area
        10702 Harley Road
        Lorton, VA, 22079

We’ll be there from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 13.  You’ll find us at our assigned count circle by the pollinator garden located at the Mustang Loop Trail parking lot (intersection of Gunston and Harley Roads).  In addition to recording all birds seen and heard, we'll also note any butterfly species!  Also, a bird walk at 8:30 a.m. will start at the count circle.

Watch a video that provides background about the Big Sit phenomenon.

Take Action

Time to Elect Conservation-minded Officials

On November 6, Virginians will elect 11 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and one U.S. senator. Many observers contend that the outcome of this election could change the party composition and leadership in the House and Senate, including several House seats in Virginia. To find your congressional district, visit https://www.house.gov/.

To find out what's on the November 6 ballot, visit https://www.elections.virginia.gov/casting-a-ballot/candidate-list/2018NovemberList.html.

Check the candidates' websites or call their campaign headquarters for events, especially debates at which you can pose questions. 

Take Part in the Virginia General Assembly Preview

Would you like to help ASNV learn about priority environmental topics and discuss a coordinated approach to advancing policy in the upcoming Virginia State legislative session? In preparation for Virginia’s 2019 General Assembly, Virginia Conservation Network (VCN) and its partners, including ASNV, will convene for a preview of what’s in store for our natural landscapes and resources. This event will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, December 1 in Richmond, Virginia.  
To better accommodate the vast majority of Virginians who live outside of the Richmond area, VCN is hosting watch parties across the Commonwealth, in addition to hosting the regular in-person event. If you would like to attend the event or at a watch party, contact ASNV at info@audubonva.org, and we will provide you with information on registration when it becomes available later this month. 

Bird Walks

Bles Park, Sterling, VA
Wednesday, October 10 - 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

This park offers woods, fields and wetland views. Will we see the American Bittern which has been a summer resident? Rick Purvis 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.


Bright Pond, Reston, VA
Sunday, October 14 - 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Join us to walk this lovely part of Reston’s wood-edge trails. Jenny Vick leads. Sponsored by the Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston.

Getting there:  Take the Reston Parkway north from the Dulles Toll Road or from Baron Cameron Ave. Turn right on Bright Pond Lane and park around the cul-de-sac and along the street.



Veterans Memorial Park, Woodbridge VA       New Location!!
Sunday, October 21 - 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.
Registration required $5.00 fee

Our kinglets and sparrows should be making appearances! Join the walk led by Dixie Sommers in this new location situated adjacent to the beautiful Marumsco Creek and Occoquan Bay National Water Reserve. Sponsored by Prince William County Parks. Register for activity 348001-VC at https://parksandrec.pwcgov.org/wbwsc/webtrac.wsc/search.html.

Getting there:  Take I-95 South to exit 161 (Woodbridge; left exit) to Route 1 South. Continue south on US-1 for about 3 miles and turn left onto Featherstone Rd.  In about 1 mile, follow Featherstone to the left; it will lead into Veterans Drive and the park. Park in the large lot on the left near the visitor’s center.



Meadowood Recreation Area, Lorton, VA
Wednesday, October 31 - 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

The waterfowl should be starting to return. Enjoy the crisp air on a walk led by Larry Cartwright.  Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club. 

Getting there: Go South on I 95 to exit 163 to Lorton. Turn left onto Lorton Rd. at the end of exit ramp.  Go under second overpass and turn right onto Lorton Market St. (You will see Shoppers Food Warehouse). Go about 1.5 mile to traffic light at Rte. 1. Go straight through light (road name changes to Gunston Rd.) and go about 1 mile to entrance on the right.



Walker Nature Center/ Snakeden Stream Valley,  Reston, VA
Saturday, November 10 - 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.

The woods to Snakeden stream are lovely for an autumn walk. Join leaders Robin Duska Huff and Kristine Lansing to enjoy a fall birding morning. Sponsored by ASNV.

Getting there: From VA-267 W/Dulles Toll Road take exit 14 (Hunter Mill Road/VA-674). Turn left onto Hunter Mill Rd (VA-674), right onto Sunrise Valley Drive, left onto S Lakes Drive, left onto Twin Branches Rd. Then take third right onto Glade Drive. Meet at the Nature House at 11450 Glade Drive in Reston.


Lower Glade Stream Valley, Reston, VA 
Sunday, November 18 - 7:30 to 10:30 a.m.

So the leaves are down:  all the better to see the woodpeckers and brown creepers.  Sponsored by The Reston Association and The Bird Feeder of Reston.

Getting there:  From I-66 west, take exit 60 to go north on Route 123. Turn left on Hunters Mill Road/ Route 674. Turn left on Lawyers Road, Route 673. Turn right on Twin Branches Road. Park near intersection with Glade Drive and meet leaders at the corner.



Silver Lake Regional Park, Haymarket, VA 
Sunday, December 2 - 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.

Check out the quarry and lakeshore for winter arrivals with leader Toby Hardwick. Sponsored by ASNV.

Getting there:  Exit 40 (Route 15) from I-66 24 miles west of I-495. Go south on Route 15 (toward Haymarket) for 0.3 miles to Route 55. Turn right on Route 55 and then after 0.9 miles turn right onto Antioch Road. At 1.3 miles turn right on Silver Lake Road to park entrance at 16198. Continue to end of park drive; meet at parking lot near the lake.


Laurel Hill Equestrian Center, Lorton, VA 
Wednesday, December 12 - 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Join leader Marc Ribaudo in this meadow terrain that’s great for sparrows. Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Bird Club

Getting there:  From I-495, take I-95 south about 13 miles to exit 163 (Lorton Rd.). Continue 1.4 west on Route 642 (Lorton Rd.). Turn left on Route 611 (Furnace Rd.) and then immediately right onto Dairy Rd. Proceed to the parking lot where we’ll meet.

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.