Archive for October, 2012


Tree Planting Event!

Saturday November 3, 2012  9am to noon


Please mark Saturday, November 3rd  on your calendar to volunteer to help plant 50 trees in our community!

Where:  Kincaid Forest (across from pool house on Spencer Terrace)

When:  9 AM – 12 NOON. You can stay for an hour or stay ‘til we’re done!

You can be a part of this community effort by helping plant young trees and shrubs to create habitat and protect our local streams.


RSVP to Neely Law at

or (703) 966-8786. See you there!



This project is paid by the generous support from the Dominion Foundation provided to the Center for Watershed Protection ,Inc .



Children’s Nature Book Club (‘C.N.B.C.’), is  resuming, and begins its fall session this Friday, Oct. 26 at the Rust Nature Sanctuary on Children’s Road, Leesburg.  We will focus on changing leaf colors and other signs of fall.

CNBC  is designed to provide regular weekly opportunities for children ages 3-5 to explore nature together safely, under the guidance of experienced teachers who are LWC volunteers as well as Master Naturalists.  Each child must be accompanied by a parent/ care-giver.

 Classes will last from 10-11:30 A.M., and  may consist of a story based on a nature theme, some music, art, crafts, and a short hike outside.  All should come dressed for outside weather. Boots are recommended.

To ensure that everyone receives close, personal attention, enrollment is limited, and pre-registration is required.  Email to:, or call Ellie at 540-338-6528.

Cost is $3.00 per child per week. 

CNBC is sponsored jointly by  Rust Sanctuary (‘A.N.S.’) and by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy .


When it comes to feeding the birds, there can be a variety of things on the menu depending on the season – from insects to fruit to seeds and suet.

In winter time, I’ve narrowed things down to just a few key staples that keep my home birds happy:

1) Black Oil Sunflower Seeds: I buy these in two forms….unshelled for the main feeder (large tube feeder and large hopper feeder both hung from posts/trees) and shelled for the platform feeder that I look out on from my computer. 

Sunflower seeds have lots of protein and good oils that help birds out through the cold months.

Cardinals have shell-cracking beaks as do some of the other birds so they enjoy this. All the birds will come and eat the shelled variety that has smaller chips that Goldfinches and others can easily eat as well.

2) Suet: Favorites for these are the peanut butter and nut varieties.  When you buy suet, make sure it’s not filled with “other stuff” – some of the lesser brands add filler seeds like millet to the mix which isn’t really on the menu for the birds who will go to the suet feeder.

3) Mealworms: Your woodland birds like Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, White-breated Nuthatches and even some of your woodpeckers will all stop by for mealworms. Use a tray or similar container with a lip that the birds can perch on and that will keep the mealworms from crawling away.

I buy mine online in bulk and keep them in a container in the basement. Grubco is one company that you can buy from online but there are others as well. If you’re just curious about feeding mealworms, you can buy a small containers at Petco, Petsmart and other pet stores – look in the area of the store near fish.

4) No Waste Mix: This mix has peanuts, millet, safflower seeds, and shelled sunflower seeds. Ground feeders like sparrows and mourning doves love this mix and woodpeckers will come down for the peanuts. I sometimes add a little cracked corn to in case Wild Turkeys come through.  Throw this on the ground on a clear spot and watch the birds flock in.

There are also some all-nut mixes that the birds go crazy for – they’re called “woodland mix” or delite” – they’re a bit pricey but are certainly a hit and nothing goes to waste. Great for a special treat now and then.

Be sure to keep a nice birdbath filled with fresh water for the birds too – they need water to metabolize all these good foods.

Looking for a place to buy seeds? Avoid buying it at the supermarket.  The mixes offered there rarely have the seeds or proper mix that our birds like. People are often telling me they never get birds at their feeders and it’s always because it’s the wrong mix or the wrong seeds put into a feeder (you don’t want to put seeds meant for ground feeding birds like sparrows in a feeder that you hang from a tree).

Locally you can find seeds at Tractor Supply and Southern States but you can also head to Reston to The Bird Feeder and get a 10% discount on all your bird seed, feeders and more. Learn more about this great member benefit here.


American Hiking Society (AHS), the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES), and the organic Mountain View Farm have teamed up to bring you two days of fun, seasonal activities on the Ridge! Donations and proceeds collected will support the programs of both AHS and BRCES.

The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is helping the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship’s Fall and Farm Tour this weekend by sponsoring several nature/history walks.

There will be walks both days highlighting the center’s natural and cultural history.  The walks will vary on length depending on who shows up and what they are most interested in.  In some cases we will do both longer and shorter walks at the same time.

Possible walks are the Farmstead Loop (a nice blend of natural history & cultural history about a mile long), a walk to the beautiful and isolated Gordon Pond & back (about two miles and requiring a ford over one of the Loudoun County’s purest streams), and short walks around the meadows near the Visitor Center.

No need to sign up – just come on out and join on us on one of the following walks at the Blue Ridge Center, one of Loudoun’s Great Places.

Sat, Oct 20th
Sun, Oct 21st
10:00AM – 4:00PM

NATURE & HISTORIC HIKES (Sat. Oct 20:  10:00 am, 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm. and Sun. Oct 21:  11 am, 1 pm, and 2:30 pm.)

 Modest Charge for Selected Activities


Fourteen people found 46 species and an unidentified accipiter on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and Friends of Banshee Reeks regular monthly bird on Saturday morning. 

While it was pretty chilly, a frosty 30 degrees, when we started it was a beautiful clear fall day for a nice walk.  The highlights of the walk included several First of Season species including Purple Finches, mostly brown birds but two adult males as well, two juvenile White-crowned Sparrows, two Red-breasted Nuthatches, a couple of Swamp Sparrows, lots of White-throated Sparrows, a Brown Creeper, as well as a Common Raven, three warbler species, and very vocal Eastern Towhees everywhere.

See below for the complete list of birds seen.

The regular monthly free bird walk (every 2nd Sat) at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve is sponsored by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy ( and the Friends of Banshee Reeks (; information on both and their upcoming events can be found on their websites.

Good birding,
Joe Coleman, near Bluemont, Loudoun Co

46 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose  X, Black Vulture  12, Turkey Vulture  12, Accipiter sp.  1, Red-shouldered Hawk  1, Rock Pigeon  4, Mourning Dove  4, Red-bellied Woodpecker  6, Downy Woodpecker  5, Hairy Woodpecker  1, Northern Flicker  15, Pileated Woodpecker  1, Eastern Phoebe  6, Blue Jay  X, American Crow  X, Fish Crow  1, Common Raven  1, Carolina Chickadee  X, Tufted Titmouse  2, Red-breasted Nuthatch  2, White-breasted Nuthatch  3, Brown Creeper  1, Carolina Wren  4, Ruby-crowned Kinglet  8, Eastern Bluebird  8, Hermit Thrush  1, American Robin  125, Gray Catbird  1, Northern Mockingbird  6, Brown Thrasher  2, European Starling  X, Cedar Waxwing  4, Common Yellowthroat  1, Black-throated Blue Warbler  1, Yellow-rumped Warbler  4, Eastern Towhee  20, Chipping Sparrow  6, Field Sparrow  6, Song Sparrow  20, Swamp Sparrow  2, White-throated Sparrow  20, White-crowned Sparrow  2, Northern Cardinal  6, Brown-headed Cowbird  1, Purple Finch  6, House Finch  3, American Goldfinch  50.


Bob’s Big Year ― Tuesday, October 16, 7:00 p.m. at the Rust Library in Leesburg. 

Did you see the movie “The Big Year”?  Well come hear a great program from the man who really did it! A little obsessed with birds? Perhaps! A little driven to get as many species as possible? Definitely!

The clock was ticking and in 2010 Bob Ake and John Spahr spent pretty much every hour of every day combing the United States and Canada for as many birds in nature as they could find. 

Spoiler: Bob finished the year with 731 species, ranking him second among those who have completed an American Birding Association Big Year! 

Join us for Bob’s illustrated talk about his Big Year, how he planned and executed it, and some of the highlights and lowlights.

Bob will share his true stories of birding from coast to coast and back and beyond…tracking this bird or that….and checking them off!

Whether you aspire to have a Big Year across the country or in your own back yard, or just want to hear some fun tales from the field – Bob’s story is sure to entertain and inspire everyone!

Young birders, old birders, spouses of birders, people who just can’t understand what the fuss is all about with birds should definitely attend this program. And then….grab your bins! Our own Central Loudoun Christmas Bird Count is coming up December 28th - you can join us for that Big Day – we won’t hit 731 species, but will no doubt find close to 100 across Loudoun.

Bob moved to Virginia in 1969 when he joined the chemistry faculty at Old Dominion University. He retired in 2001 and has been birding nonstop since then. Since moving to Virginia, he has served twice as President of the Cape Henry Audubon Society, been President of the Virginia Society of Ornithology three times, led more field trips than can be counted, and currently serves as Chairman of the Virginia Avian Records Committee. 

Every spring he leads bird and butterfly walks in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and spent a couple of days here in June helping with the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Bird Atlas.


Life in the Fallen Leaves — that’s the theme of our fall Habitat Herald newsletter.

It was sent to Members last week but you can also read it online – now in color!

We realized that we were using some really wonderful photographs to accompany the different articles and while they look ok in gray scale for the print version, they sure do add a lot of color and flavor in color.

So, moving forward, we’ll continue to print the gray scale version (because we feel it’s important to have a hard copy to share and enjoy) but we’ll also post online the color version.

Many thanks to Lorrie Bennett for doing the fantastic layout, to the photographers for contributing their works of art, and to Donna Quinn for coordinating the publication of this newsletter each quarter!

Check out the color version here.


Every now and then we get an “irruption year” for certain bird species.  We did an article on Irruptions for the Habitat Herald a few years ago so you can read more about this phenomena here.

This year is turning out to be an irruption year for Red-breasted Nuthatches and while I have yet to get them at my feeders, they have been spotted right up the street from me, and  Joe Coleman has them at his house in Round Hill and Jim Clark has also has them in Leesburg. [Let us know if you see them too!]

Jim, who is an amazing photographer, shared these photos of the one visiting his suet feeder:

Do  you have them in your yard?  Quite possible!  We typically see our resident White-breasted Nuthatches here in Loudoun so keep an eye out for those while checking to see if a Red-breasted is in the mix. For me, it would be a new “yard bird” (yes, I keep one of “those” lists :) ) so I’m hoping one or two will show up at our feeders or in the trees around our yard.

On the blog, 10,000 Birds, Corey wrote an excellent posting about this year’s nuthatch irruption – as he says, “they are exploding southward!”. I recommend his whole posting – here’s a teaser here:

From 10,000 Birds:

Why Are Red-breasted Nuthatches Irrupting?

By October 1, 2012 12 comments

There can be no doubt that this year is an irruption year for Red-breasted Nuthatches. Sitta canadensis isn’t just irrupting out of its far northern home but exploding southward, with reports in every southern state except for Florida,


This past weekend, we held our first walk at Willowsford, a new development in Loudoun where the natural elements of this gorgeous land are being celebrated and appreciated!

Donna Quinn worked with managers at Willowsford to set up and promote this walk, not only to current residents of Willowsford but also others in and around Loudoun.

Donna’s report from the walk is below and you can see more photos from the day in our Discovering Willowsford Facebook Album:

We had a fantastic walk! It was everything we hoped for, and more! We had about 30 people come out to join us. Mona Miller, Robert Daugherty, Mary Ann Good and I all shared in various leading duties.

Mark Hillis from Willowsford welcomed the families and explained we were from Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. I talked a bit about Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and what we do and then Mona took stage and began the magical Monarch show.

Mona shared two Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars and explained how caterpillars avoid being eaten. She released a Black Swallowtail and explained when you release a butterfly, you make a wish. After a brief overview of the Monarch life cycle and how to tag a butterfly, she enlisted the children in tagging and releasing 30 Monarchs. Everyone who wanted to hold and release a Monarch was able to, and a couple of children were able to release two. Mona was so good with the children and somehow had even the youngest children holding and releasing butterflies. Children and parents were enthralled. And we didn’t have a single casualty! There were many beautiful wishes rising up with the butterflies and it was a truly joyful experience for all.

Next, we headed off onto the Farm Loop as some of our young walkers were ready to move on. Robert managed to gather everyone together on the bridge and explained to our young naturalists we see more when we are quiet and stay together. These kids were good listeners and we did more or less stay together after that, as much as 30 people can stay together on a narrow trail.

Our birds included Turkey Vultures, Robins, Bluebirds, Eastern Phoebe, Chickadee, Carolina Wren, Eastern Towhee, Red-shouldered Hawk, Coopers Hawk, Wild Turkey, American Crow, starlings, Chimney Swifts and others.

We talked about the importance of leaving areas natural – dead trees, tall grass, native plants, etc. all provide habitat. Willowsford is rich in wildlife because they are providing homes and food for wildlife by leaving habitat natural. We also showed our young naturalists the hairy vines of poison ivy so they do not touch it. Mona taught families about nature’s remedy for poison ivy, jewel weed.

The Farm Loop is a little over a mile which was a good length. It is edge habitat for the most part and well suited for a walk of this nature. Birders were teased – we want to go back and take a better look. Robert spotted a Black-throated Green and Mary Ann thought she heard White-throated Sparrows which would have been the first of season for us. About 2/3 the group left at a halfway point which was nice for those who had very young children.

The weather was glorious, the children were delightful and everyone had a great time. I overheard heard a couple of the parents saying they would definitely sign up for future walks. It was a wonderful day and we can’t thank Willowsford enough for inviting us in. We look forward to leading more walks and exploring all the wildlife and habitats that Willowsford has to offer.


On Friday, October 12, at 7:00 p.m., the Goose Creek Association (GCA), the Land Trust of Virginia (LTV), the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT), and the Hill School Alumni Association will host a free screening of a new film called Green Fire, the first full-length, high definition documentary film ever made about legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold. 

The film explores Aldo Leopold’s life in the early part of the twentieth century and the ways his land ethic idea continues to be applied all over the world today.

“Aldo Leopold has left an astounding legacy.  Thousands of organizations across the nation and hundreds here in Virginia, including the Goose Creek Association, the Land Trust of Virginia, and the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, are following his lead.  It’s interesting to see how Leopold repaired riparian buffers on his land like GCA is doing today with our Goose Creek Challenge Program,” said GCA Chair Lori Keenan.

“Our work is Leopold’s work,” said LTV Executive Director Don Owen.  “Land trusts have protected more than 16 million acres of land in the United States, including more than 30% of the farm and forest land in western Loudoun and northern Fauquier counties. These lands, and the water resources, wildlife, battlefields, and historic resources on them, are one of the most important gifts we can give to future generations.”

Green Fire illustrates Leopold’s continuing influence by exploring current projects that connect people and land at the local level. Viewers will meet urban children in Chicago learning about local foods and ecological restoration, ranchers in Arizona and New Mexico who maintain healthy landscapes by working on their own properties and wildlife biologists across the nation who are bringing back threatened and endangered species, from cranes to Mexican wolves, to the landscapes where they once thrived.

Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time is a production of the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the US Forest Service, and the Center for Humans and Nature. The film shares highlights from Leopold’s life and extraordinary career, explaining how he shaped conservation in the twentieth century and still inspires people today.  Although probably best known as the author of the conservation classic A Sand County Almanac, Leopold is also renowned for his work as an educator, philosopher, forester, ecologist, and wilderness advocate.

If you come:  October 12, 7:00 p.m., Middleburg, Virginia, at The Hill School at 130 South Madison Street in Middleburg, Virginia, 20117. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Download the flier here: Green Fire

For more information, contact Don Owen at (540) 687-8441, or Andrea Rosse at 540-687-3073,