September 2013
In This Issue
Message from the President
Audubon Afternoon
Christmas Bird Count
Adult Education
Field Trips - Bird Walks
Advocacy Update
Other News
Conservation Counts
Join Jim Waggener in his ongoing wildlife 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.

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

Contact Jim via email or phone (703-567-3555) for more details or to reserve your space.

General Surveys

Occoquan Bay NWR
  • September 25
  • October 30          
Meadowood on Mason Neck 
  • September 11    
  • October 16       
Butterfly and Dragonfly Surveys
Join Jim Waggener each Friday (April-October) in his ongoing survey of the butterflies and dragonflies at four locations in Fairfax and Prince William County.

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

Contact Jim via email or phone (703-567-3555) for more details or to reserve your space. (Note: Surveys may be cancelled for inclement weather.)
  • September 13 - Meadowood   
  • September 20 - Metz Wetlands
  • September 27 - Occoquan Regional Park
  • October 4 - Occoquan Bay NWR  
Eakin Park Bird Walk
Hidden Oaks Nature Center (FCPA) sponsors weekly bird walks along the Accotink Stream Valley. Mondays,
7:00 AM March-Nov.;
7:30 AM Dec - Feb.

Help make a difference!
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 U. S. senators to support a strong climate change bill. If you would like to help us make a difference with climate change and other important issues, please contact Glenda Booth.

Research Plant Value to Wildlife. ASNV is looking 
for a Virgina master naturalist, or other interested volunteer, willing to research the wildlife value of specific native plants. 

More information about these and other opportunities can be found here.

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
Message From The President
Our letter to the Washington Post asserted that each of us can make a difference in addressing the steady decline in bird populations, as urban sprawl and development threaten natural habitat in the United States. Even those of us who have only a patio or apartment balcony can grow a native plant to sustain insects that birds need for protein. The insects the birds rely on to feed their young cannot use the non-native landscape that has become commonplace in America.


What we choose to plant can also help our resident birds make it through the winter. As insects retreat, many birds sustain themselves with berries rich in fats and antioxidants. Fortunately, in Northern Virginia we have some valuable native berries to offer our feathered friends. A recent University of Rhode Island study revealed how much fat (bird fuel) is contained in different types of berries. Among the top six heavyweights, five are familiar NoVa natives.


Would you believe Northern Bayberry produces fruit that is more than half fat? Here's the list (with fat content). (1) Northern Bayberry (Morella [Myrica] pensylvanica -- 50.3%); (2) Southern Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum - 41.3%); (3) Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa - 39.9%); (4) Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin - 33.2%; and (5) Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia - 23.6%).


The lesson here is to plant for all seasons. I also have to wonder what the calorie content is in the seeds that last into winter. Our flock of American goldfinches lingers long into fall to perch on the stems of the purple coneflower and the black-eyed Susan. As Doug Tallamy admonishes, "Garden as if life depended on it!" And don't forget our Audubon Afternoon from 3-5pm on Sept. 29 at NWF, featuring Dr. David Luther from GMU. His research involves bird communication in urban and other environments where noise competes with birdsong.

Audubon Afternoon:  Bird Song
and Background Noise Levels
Sunday, September 29, 2013 
National Wildlife Federation 
3:00 - 5:00 PM 

Join us for a fascinating glimpse into some current bird song research.  


Birds sing to communicate with potential mates and territorial rivals. Background noise, from natural and human caused sources, is ubiquitous in all environments and can present challenges for effective acoustic communication. Dr. David Luther, an ornithologist at George Mason University, will talk to us about his research examining how bird songs have evolved to stand out in the presence of loud background noise, such as the cacophony of birds singing in the dawn chorus in the Amazon rainforest, or the "noise pollution" of urban rush hour traffic.   He will discuss current studies at field sites from here inside the Beltway, to San Francisco, to the Amazon basin.  


Dr. Luther coordinates and teaches introductory biology for non-majors at GMU. He also maintains an active research program in the fields of animal behavior, ecology, and conservation biology. His current research focuses on the ecology and evolution of acoustic communication in birds as well as the ecology, evolution, and conservation of terrestrial vertebrates that are endemic to mangrove forests.


NatureFest in Runnymede Park

Sunday, October 6, 1-5:00 PM


Bring the whole family to this free afternoon of fun nature adventures. See presentations of live animals by the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center and the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Help release butterflies. Arts & crafts, food, face painting, fish shocking, and much, much more. Stop by the Birding station and visit with ASNV friends, and while you're there, dissect an owl pellet and plant a bird feeder.


Chimney Swift Tower  


The Friends of Runnymede Park in Herndon, VA, are very happy to announce the installation of a Chimney Swift tower in the park. Using plans developed by the Driftwood Association in Texas, members of the friends group built and installed the tower in an open area near the entrance to the park.  They plan an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:45 PM, just prior to the opening of our the NatureFest celebration. Audubon friends are cordially invited to attend. To see photos of the building and installation process, and the finished tower, visit their Friends of Runnymede Facebook page.


Getting there: Shuttle bus service from the Herndon Police Station on Herndon Parkway.
Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count Scheduled
Our annual Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count will be on Sunday, December 15th.  We expect most of you will want to continue in the same sector you have been counting in the past.  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 or want to volunteer early, contact ASNV at 703-438-6008 or email address:  More information will be provided in future newsletters.
Also, come to our free CBC Workshop where you can learn about what we do during CBCs, where the data goes, how we count birds and how to brush up on your counting skills.  The workshop will be on Sunday, October 13th at 2 PM at the NWF building, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr, Reston.  Please sign up at the above contact points.
Adult Education

Little Brown Jobs

Need a little help with those "little brown jobs"?  House Finch vs. Pine Siskin?  Song vs. 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.

Cost:  $30.00 for members, $40 for non-members.

Sign-up here.

The Lost Art of Birding By Ear - FULL

We often hear many more birds than we see.  Hidden in dense foliage or brush, their songs tease us.  If only we could identify their songs!  But, for most of us, learning bird songs is difficult.  Until now.
This workshop will concentrate on teaching you to identify some of our winter resident birds by their vocalizations.  Dr. Larry Underwood, author of the iKnow Bird Songs app, will help you learn to tell the Northern Flicker from the Pileated Woodpecker, the House Finch from the Purple Finch, just by listening.  We'll also explore specific techniques that make learning bird songs possible, easy, and downright fun.

Cost: $25 for members, $35 for non-members. 
Full: Call ASNV at 703-438-6008 to be wait-listed.


Field Trips - Bird Walks
Algonkian Regional Park, Sterling, VA

Wednesday, September 11, 7:30-10:30 AM

A good mix of habitats along the Potomac River make this park a great place to look for migrants. Bill Brown will lead this walk, co-sponsored with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. Meet at the boat ramp.

Getting there: The park address is 47001 Fairway Drive, Sterling. From Rt. 7., heading west, turn on Cascades Parkway, north, and continue into the park. Follow the signs for the boat ramp.


Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Vienna, VA

Saturday, September 14, 7:30-10:30 AM

ASNV has been surveying the birds in the park for 3 months and we've found spring migrants, nesting summer visitors, year round residents, and now we'll be looking for fall migrants in this beautiful mix of habitats. Bill Brown, who leads one of the survey teams, will lead this walk. Meet Bill at the maintenance facility.

Getting there: From Rt. 7, take Towlston Rd. to the park. Turn right at the first entrance to the lower parking lot and go all the way to the end. From Vienna, cross the Toll Rd., go past the main entrance to the Filene Center, and turn left into the lower parking lot.


Lower Glade Stream Valley, Reston, VA

Sunday, September 22, 7:30-10:30 AM

Joanne & David Bauer will lead this walk, looking for fall migrants.

Getting there: From Reston Parkway, take Glade Drive east to Twin Branches. Park along Glade Drive and meet the leaders at the corner of Glade and Twin Branches.


Occoquan Bay NWR, Woodbridge, VA

Saturday, September 28, 7:30 AM

Welcome to Phil Silas and Dixie Sommers, new walk leaders for ASNV!   Fall is a great time to look for migrants in the fields, woods and on the river and bay of this excellent refuge.

Getting there: The refuge is located at the end of Dawson Beach Rd. in Woodbridge, VA.

Sunrise Valley Wetland/Polo Fields, Reston, VA

Sunday, October 6, 7:30-10:30 AM

Join Matt Bender to look for late migrants. This little wetland can produce some nice warbler surprises.

Getting there: From Fairfax Co. Parkway, take Sunrise Valley west. Just beyond the Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride, turn right into ASG Software Solutions. Park on the west side of the building.


Sky Meadows State Park

Saturday, October 12, 8:00 AM

Registration required.
Red-headed Woodpeckers are the target species here, but we'll have our eyes open for everything. Moderate terrain, no strenuous hiking. Beginning birders welcome. Please register with Carol Hadlock, carol_inawren@verizon.netor 703-437-7451.

Getting there: Go west on Rt. 50 to Rt. 17. Turn left and follow the signs to Sky Meadows State Park.  Meet at the Visitor Center. Alternately, go west on Rt. 66 and then north on Rt. 17 to the park.  

Fee: There is an entrance fee.  

Advocacy Update
Conservation Depends On You

Virginia Environmental Advocates Mobilize

Learn the issues, hone your advocacy skills and network by the ocean at the annual Virginia Environmental Assembly in Virginia Beach, September 20 and 21. Visit for more information. 


Virginians' Views on Climate Change

Do Virginians think climate change is happening?   On July 17, the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University released the results of a poll, Perceptions of Extreme Weather and Climate Change in Virginia.  

They surveyed 2,000 Virginia adults by telephone.


November 5 General Election in Virginia

What's on the ballot? Virginia Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Member House of Delegates, and more, depending on where you live. Read more... 


State of the Birds: Successes of Protecting Bird Habitat on Private Lands

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture underscores the importance to birds of sound environmental management of private lands. Around 60 percent of the land in the U.S. is privately owned and private lands are used by virtually all of the terrestrial and coastal birds of the United States, 251 of which are federally threatened, endangered, or of conservation concern. Read more... 


Clean Water Is Critical to a Healthy Environment

Mark your calendar for the free Northern Virginia Watershed Workshop,

October 5, 2013 10 AM to 4 pm, Northern Virginia Community College Ernst Community Center, Annandale Campus, 8333 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA

The watersheds of Northern Virginia are home to a diverse community of flora and fauna and over 2 million people! As a densely populated area, cooperation between communities, businesses, and individuals is necessary to improve and preserve the health of our watersheds as well as promote sustainable practices. Organizations can have tables. Contact Dr. Karen Bushaw-Newton, Asst. Professor, (, Robert Johnson, Sustainability Officer ( Read more...

Other News

Paton's Birder Haven


A request came for individuals to consider donating a small sum to purchase Paton's Birder Haven for the Audubon family.


Many birders who have traveled to southeast Arizona and visited Paton's Birder Haven in Patagonia have seen the Violet-crowned Hummingbird and other characteristic species of the borderlands.


You may know that since Marion Paton passed away, the family has wanted to sell the house, and to keep it open in the way that the birding community has become accustomed. This vision is shared by the birding community and now we have an opportunity to do just that. With the American Bird Conservancy and Victor Emanuel we have launched an international campaign to raise the funds for its purchase and renovation.


Once purchased by the American Bird Conservancy, ownership will be transferred to Tucson Audubon to run Paton's Birders Haven for the birding community. You can help by visiting this website:
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Programs and Field Trips
Birding Banshee - Saturday, September 14, 8:00 a.m. Join the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Friends of Banshee Reeks at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve for the monthly bird walk.

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Fall Native Plant Sale - Saturday, September 14, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Birding the Blue Ridge Center - Saturday, September 28, 8:00 a.m. Only a few miles south of Harpers Ferry and the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, the Blue Ridge Center.

Information on the above programs can be found at: