bluebirds Efforts are underway in the U.S. Congress to prevent the enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).


The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) advises that “the Senate may soon consider a rider in the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill to bar the Department of Justice from enforcing the MBTA, which protects over 1,000 species of migratory birds.”


Furthermore, in the House, Rep. Jeff Duncan is trying to add to the Interior Appropriation Bill an amendment that would prevent the enforcement of laws protecting Bald and Golden Eagles, as well as the laws protecting migratory birds.


SEO_Liam_McGranaghan2a-150x150Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is joining ABC and conservation organizations across the nation in cosigning a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, asking that they maintain all existing protections for migratory birds.


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy also invites individual members to send the same request to Virginia’s U.S. Senators.  You can easily do this by going to and personalizing and sending a letter prepared by ABC.  Alternatively, you can deliver your message directly by calling or writing the offices of Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine.  Contact information can be found at


As always, thank you for your efforts to protect Loudoun’s wildlife.


Photo credits: Bluebirds, by Nicole Hamilton.  Short-eared Owl, by Liam McGranaghan.  These are just two of more than 1,000 species currently protected under the MBTA.





Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy Habitat Restoration Chair Moni Burke, a Cascades resident, submitted a Lyme prevention article by invitation this month for her community association newsletter.  We are pleased to share the full text here, and we welcome our members and friends to share it with their communities.  (Photo by Jared Garland.)



Lyme Prevention: Highest-Efficacy, Lowest-Cost, and Lowest-Toxicity Methods

Many of the methods for Lyme disease prevention which studies indicate to be most effective are low- or no cost, and carry low or no risk. The highest-efficacy, lowest-cost, lowest-toxicity Lyme prevention methods are tick checks and protective clothing. These personal measures and other effective landscape management methods for the homeowner are outlined below.


1. Personal Protective Measures

A. Tick checks and prompt removal

The definitive Tick Management Handbook states that “checking for ticks and prompt removal of attached ticks is probably the most important and effective method of preventing infection!” – and indeed, most scientific studies have supported this assertion.


B. Protective Clothing

The Tick Management Handbook recommends wearing long pants tucked into socks to make ticks easier to detect and keep them on the outside of the clothes. A 2008 Center for Disease Control (CDC) Connecticut study of nearly 2,000 individuals found protective clothing – defined as long pants and long-sleeved shirts to be 40% effective in preventing Lyme disease. Wearing this type of protective clothing is a risk-free prevention method.


2. Landscape Management

A. Tick-safe zones

According to a study referenced in the Tick Management Handbook, the nymphal blacklegged tick whose bite is the primary cause of Lyme disease in humans, is found mainly in densely wooded areas (67%) and in transitional edge ecotone habitat between woodlands and open areas (22%), which provide the relatively high humidity necessary for their survival. Fewer ticks are found in ornamental vegetation (9%) and lawn (2%).


The Tick Management Handbook, CDC and other sources recommend that families create tick-safe zones in lawns and play areas around their homes – isolating these zones from tick habitat with a wood chip or gravel barrier of approximately 3 feet, and then increasing exposure to sun and air in those zones. The Tick Management Handbook notes that acceptable alternatives to lawn include butterfly gardens, vegetable gardens, formal herb gardens, colonial style gardens, wildflower meadows and hardscapes.


These measures have been shown to reduce tick numbers on the subject property. However, a recent study showed them not to be significantly protective against Lyme disease – and the Tick Management Handbook concludes that “landscape management alone may not reduce disease incidence, as the undetected bite of only one infected tick is required for transmission of Borrelia burgdorferi.” Borrelia burgdorferi is the bacteria causing Lyme disease.


There is no real risk associated with this type of landscape management. The cost will vary depending on lot size and existing landscaping.


B. Replacing exotic invasives with native plants

Multiple studies have shown that controlling invasive plants, especially Japanese barberry, helps to reduce both total tick numbers and infected tick numbers. Two Maine Medical Center Research Institute studies, and the Tick Management Handbook, indicate that blacklegged ticks are significantly more abundant in areas dominated by exotic invasive plants, particularly Japanese barberry, than areas dominated by native shrubs. A 2010 Connecticut study indicates that control of Japanese barberry – either through cutting off the above-ground portion or using a flame treatment – “reduced the number of ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi by nearly 60% by reverting microclimatic conditions to those more typical of native northeastern forests.”


Invasive removal alone may in some cases be sufficient for native plants to return to the area without further effort or expense by the homeowner – though in some cases, there may be cost and labor associated with acquiring and planting new native shrubs.


Invasive plant removal carries no risk except for that associated with use of standard garden tools, and it carries many environmental benefits.


C. Promotion of vertebrate biodiversity

Recent research on Lyme disease mitigation points to a whole new paradigm, suggesting that we should focus not on culling or excluding one or two specific tick-carrying mammal species (such as deer or mice), but rather on fostering life for many diverse species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.


At the homeowner or property manager level, one way to promote vertebrate diversity is by replacing exotic invasive plants with native plants, as discussed in section 2B above, and by restoring habitat diversity, health, and complexity. As entomologist Douglas W. Tallamy writes, “because animals directly or indirectly depend on plants for their food, the diversity of animals in a particular habitat is very closely linked to the diversity of the plants in that habitat.”


Some research shows that at the community planning level, a key way to promote vertebrate diversity and thereby reduce Lyme disease risk is to discourage land-use practices that fragment our forests. This is because forest fragmentation tends to favor a small number of mammal species that are relatively likely to infect ticks with Lyme disease bacterium, while reducing populations of other species that are unlikely to be infected with Lyme disease bacterium.


Note on chemical spraying for ticks

The pesticides primarily used for tick spraying are bifenthrin and permethrin, both of which are a pyrethroid that is currently classified by the EPA as a Group C carcinogen (possible human carcinogen – cancer causing) and highly toxic to bees, fish, and aquatic invertebrates.


For further information on Lyme disease mitigation, please visit: PDF_Files/Rebalance_Loudoun_Lyme_Mitigation_Approach.pdf


Moni Burke

Chair, Habitat Restoration

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy


The Monarch Joint Venture, in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service,  created a wonderful series of webinars on monarch conservation.

You can view the entire series here:

Here are the webinar titles:

Contributions of Monarch Citizen Science & Program Overviews

Enhancing Existing Landscapes for Monarch/Native Pollinators

Habitat Restoration Fundamentals

Monarch Biology and Conservation Basics

Monarch Research and Advanced Topics


This just in from the Loudoun County Master Gardeners – sounds like a great program:

Free Garden Lecture – Good-Bye Grass, Hello Suburban Meadow
Tired of the expense and battle of maintaining a suburban lawn, but don’t want to give up on green?  Please join us at 7pm on Thursday, July 9th as landscape designer Tom Mannion describes the transformation of cookie-cutter grass lawns as small as ¼ acre into healthy landscapes complete with native meadows, pollinator gardens and waves of wildflowers.

Tom will give us the details of suburban redesigns and options you can use in your own yard such as meadow gardens and wet meadows, wildlife welcoming native plants, shady-slope meadows and clover lawns. The MD/DC/VA Landscape Contractors Association has awarded Tom twelve grand and three distinction awards and he has won awards from the Perennial Plant Association. The free lecture will be held at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office, 30 Catoctin Circle, Leesburg.


For more information about the lecture or the Loudoun County VCE Master Gardener program visit the website: or call the Loudoun Extension Office at 703-777-0373.

Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status. An equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments.

A nature walk on the Morven trail.

A nature walk on the Morven trail.

More than 150 members, family, and friends joined in the celebration of Loudoun Wildlife’s 20th year at the Annual Meeting Sunday, May 31, at Morven Park. Predicted showers held off a day, allowing hikers to explore Morven on a nature walk and gardeners to acquire a few more native perennials for their pollinator-friendly plantings, as musicians filled the sultry air with good tunes.

The crowd moved into the coolness of the Carriage Museum for refreshments and the meeting, at which the membership voted to approve the slate of Loudoun Wildlife board members serving another 2-year term (Joe Coleman, Jim McWalters, Sarah Steadman) and new board members (Bill Brown, Hatsy Cutshall, Jill Miller, and Phil Paschall). Outgoing President Joe Coleman thanked outgoing board members Janet Locklear (who also received the Volunteer of the Year Award), Phil Daley (who has been on the board for 19 years), and retiring Secretary Rhonda Chocha for their service.

Outgoing President Joe Coleman with Janet Locklear, Volunteer of the Year.

Outgoing President Joe Coleman with Janet Locklear, Volunteer of the Year.

Coleman shared highlights of the organization’s 20-year history and accomplishments, emphasizing that while the organization’s founders and board members have worked hard to protect wildlife and habitat in Loudoun, “it is you—our members—who have made us the success we are today.” He also thanked Dulles Greenway sponsors for 10 years of support, through grants from the annual Drive for Charity, and Morven Park for serving as Loudoun Wildlife’s home, and for its many partnership efforts.

Science Fair participants Samantha Iliff (Loudoun Valley HS), Corwin Warner (Loudoun County HS), and Eric Esposito (Heritage HS), who placed first, second and third in the Loudoun-Wildlife-sponsored awards for best environmental science project at the Fair, were on hand to display and explain their projects. Youth and Family Programs Chair Sarah Steadman presented their awards.

Miriam Westervelt presented the Roger Tory Peterson Awards for nature journaling

Miriam Westervelt presents Roger Tory Peterson awards for nature journalling to Andrew Thomas, Kevin Natal, and Ashleigh Menzenwerth.

Miriam Westervelt presents Roger Tory Peterson awards for nature journalling to Andrew Thomas, Kevin Natal, and Ashleigh Menzenwerth.

to five students: Kevin Natal, kindergarten (Leesburg ES); Ashleigh Menzenwerth, kindergarten (Frederick ES); Andrew Thomas, senior (Heritage HS); Maggie Lanaghan, senior (Loudoun Valley HS); and Tyler Nelson, senior (Tuscarora HS).

Blue Ridge Center wildlife rehabilitator Jennifer Burghoffer presented the afternoon’s program, sharing her knowledge about the lives of several of the Center’s residents: A barred owl, an opossum, a big brown bat, a wood turtle, and a black rat snake.

Loudoun Wildlife board and staff members extend our thanks to all the Loudoun Wildlife volunteers who helped plan and staff this special event. [Images courtesy of volunteer Judy Smith]

Waterborne Nursery offered native plants for members' wildlife-friendly gardens.

Waterborne Nursery offered native plants for members’ wildlife-friendly gardens.


Thirty-five birders showed up for the regularly scheduled monthly bird walk at the 900-acre Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in northwestern Loudoun County this past Saturday morning. This month’s walk was sponsored by both the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Northern Virginia Bird Club and split into two different groups. One group, led by Elton Morel & Marc Ribaudo, concentrated on the area around the Education Center & organic farm and found 59 species; the other group, led by Joe Coleman & Mary Ann Good, walked the trails at the southern end of the property and found 57 species. Neither group spent much time in the forest and, for the most part, found the same species with some notable exceptions such as the four Chats found around the Education Center. After the scheduled walk a couple people briefly visited the open areas under the power line on Arnold Road and added American Robins and two counter-singing Orchard Orioles to the days list.

The highlights of the 70 species were five Blue-winged Warblers, a couple of which were well-seen, a flyover Broad-winged Hawk, one Cerulean Warbler, and 4 Yellow-breasted Chats.

For a complete list of the birds see the combined eBird lists below.

Information on the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship can be found at  Information on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and its many free activities can be found at and information on the Northern Virginia Bird Club can be found at

Joe Coleman

Canada Goose  6, Great Blue Heron  2    , Black Vulture  3, Turkey Vulture  9, Cooper’s Hawk  1, Bald Eagle  3, Red-shouldered Hawk  3, Broad-winged Hawk  1, Red-tailed Hawk  1, Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  26, Mourning Dove  6, Yellow-billed Cuckoo  4, Chimney Swift  18, Ruby-throated Hummingbird  3, Red-bellied Woodpecker  7,, Downy Woodpecker  3, Hairy Woodpecker  3, Northern Flicker  1, Pileated Woodpecker  4, Eastern, Wood-Pewee  3, Acadian Flycatcher  6, Eastern Phoebe 1, Great Crested Flycatcher  10, Eastern Kingbird  4, White-eyed Vireo  6, Yellow-throated Vireo  2, Red-eyed Vireo  25, Blue Jay  3, American Crow  9, Fish Crow  3, Common Raven 1, Northern Rough-winged Swallow  1, Tree Swallow  9, Barn Swallow  14, Carolina Chickadee  8, Tufted Titmouse  15, White-breasted Nuthatch  2, House Wren 3, Carolina Wren  5, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  9, Eastern Bluebird  6, Wood Thrush  2, American Robin  2, Gray Catbird  5, Northern Mockingbird 2, Brown Thrasher  2, European Starling  8, Cedar Waxwing  27, Ovenbird  1, Louisiana Waterthrush  1, Blue-winged Warbler  5, Kentucky Warbler  1, Common Yellowthroat  8, American Redstart  8, Cerulean Warbler 1, Yellow-breasted Chat  4, Eastern Towhee  5, Chipping Sparrow  3, Field Sparrow  15, Grasshopper Sparrow  1, Song Sparrow  1, Scarlet Tanager  4,, Northern Cardinal  12, Indigo Bunting  25, Eastern Meadowlark 1, Common Grackle  3, Brown-headed Cowbird  18, Orchard Oriole  2, American Goldfinch  30, House Sparrow 2

Common milkweed aflutter with pollinators
Common milkweed aflutter with pollinators

Common milkweed aflutter with pollinators

Our annual meeting will be filled with activities for all members to enjoy.

Among them will be Watermark Woods selling native plants. Please go to for the current available inventory. Pre-orders are appreciated.

In addition, we’ll have our native pesticide-free milkweed available ($3 per plant). We still have Common Milkweed, the #1 favorite of Monarch butterflies, and Swamp milkweed, the #2 favorite.  Milkweed plants are first-come first serve – no pre-orders.

The plant sale and other fun activities for families starts at 12:30. The Annual meeting program starts at 2:00.

Morven Park
17263 Southern Planter Ln
Leesburg, VA

If you are not yet a member of Loudoun Wildlife but would like to support our work, please Join. You don’t have to be a member to this event but we really appreciate and need your support.


The NRDC sums up the issue quite well in their video and petition to Dow Chemical. Please sign and share: NRDC Petition to Dow Chemical


The Ligi Nestlings biggest bird-a-thon!

ligi-nstlings-2015Sunday, May 10th marked our 7th annual bird-a-thon for The Ligi Nestlings.  This was our biggest bird-a-thon yet!  We birded (I use that term loosely) for almost 2 hours and found a new record of 31 species! We also raised more money than ever before…almost $700 (including a donation from McKenzie and Addison’s piggy banks).  All donations go to the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy to support bird-friendly educational programs, habitat restoration, and citizen science projects.  A huge thank you goes to our friends and family for their generous support and encouragement along the way!

So how does a bird-a-thon work with an 8, 5, and 1 year old?  Well, it’s fun and it’s crazy.  McKenzie was our team recorder and carried a clipboard around.  She started off looking for birds, but got side tracked by all the caterpillars and butterflies.  She took a couple caterpillars home and we worked together to identify them as Eastern Tent Caterpillars (aye yi yi).  We watched them form their cocoon in our butterfly enclosure on the back porch.  I’m not sure how the release is going to go, but what a great learning experience for the girls.  Addison was the most focused during our bird-a-thon and proudly identified a Cardinal, Robin, and Mourning Dove all by herself.  Little Catherine had no idea what was going on, but she looked cute and said “bird” in the sweetest little voice.  We also spent some time playing pooh sticks and exploring around the creek with our nets.  The pollen and mayflies eventually won out, sending poor McKenzie and Catherine to the car with big puffy eyes.  They looked so miserable that we finished our birding adventure from the car and the comfort of GaGa and Opa’s house.  A special thanks goes to dad for keeping the girls dry and safe and for letting me wander off every now and then to track down a bird.

Here’s our species list and a few highlights from the Blue Ridge Center and surrounding areas:

  1. American Robin (6)
  2. Mourning Dove (3)
  3. Crow (10)
  4. Black Vulture (11)
  5. American Goldfinch (7, McKenzie’s favorite because we saw them with a small flock)
  6. Eastern Bluebird (3)
  7. Great Blue Heron  (2, most likely flying to a nearby rookery)
  8. Turkey Vulture (4)
  9. Tree Swallow (10, this was one of the few birds that stuck around long enough for Catherine to see)
  10. Indigo Bunting (2)
  11. Carolina Chickadee (8)
  12. Eastern Towhee (1)
  13. Blue Gray Gnatcatcher (1)
  14. Field Sparrow (3)
  15. Northern Cardinal (6, Addison proudly identified this species for our team and even knew the boys from the girls!)
  16. Barn Swallow (1)
  17. Downy Woodpecker (1)
  18. Blue Jay (3)
  19. Chipping Sparrow (1)
  20. Chickens (8, not really wild but everyone on our team actually saw them so they made the list )
  21. Pileated Woodpecker (1, flying into his nest cavity)
  22. Carolina Wren (1)
  23. Eastern Phoebe (2, a nice pair twitching their tails near the water)
  24. Northern Mockingbird (2)
  25. European Starling (1)
  26. Common Grackle (6)
  27. Red-winged Blackbird (3)
  28. Osprey (catching a fish and flying off towards the nearby Potomac River, probably heading to her own nest to feed her own nestlings. Unfortunately the girls missed it, but it was definitely a highlight for me!)
  29. House Sparrow (1)
  30. Gray Catbird (1)
  31. Song Sparrow (1, chowing down at the feeder in GaGa and Opa’s backyard)

Our naturalists-in-training also found caterpillars, butterflies, a turtle, flowers, pigs, dogs, and a gazillion bugs.



May 22, 2015 - Sterling, VA - The Dulles Greenway’s 10th annual Drive For Charity reached a record high for donations with $298,000 collected as part of the 2015 campaign. Monies raised will be donated to six local charities and the Greenway scholarship program.

“The Drive for Charity funds will allow the six charities to reach many more people making a huge difference in the lives of those who are in need,” said Terry Hoffman, Public & Customer Relations Manager of the Dulles Greenway. “We are proud to be a small part of making Loudoun County a better place for everyone.”

Thank you to our 2015 sponsors: WTOP, WINC FM, Jiffy Lube ®, Dewberry, Shirley Contracting, Faneuil, Deloitte, Strittmatter, Capital Rail Constructors, Transcore, Clyde’s, Davis Paige, David Madison Photography.

The Dulles Greenway is a privately owned 14-mile toll road that connects Washington Dulles International Airport with Leesburg, Virginia. A trip from Leesburg to the Dulles Airport or to the Dulles Toll Road can be made in less than 15 minutes. Travelers save time and money when compared to the alternate routes.

If you have additional questions or need further comment, please contact Terry Hoffman via email at or phone at 703-668-0033.


Next Page »