Equipment and Gear


Those with an iPhone won’t be too excited….(they already have this app and its old hat by now) but for those of us birders who use Android….mark your calendar for Nov 18th to download :) !

Here’s the news release:

BirdsEye for Android

Launching on Tuesday, November 18

It’s been in the works for years, and now the best bird finding app is coming to Android! BirdsEye uses your Android devices GPS and eBird data to show you the what birds you might find nearby, or at any place in the world. Even more exciting is that BirdsEye for Android is launching as a free app.

The free version of BirdsEye is limited to the 50 most common birds in your area. This is true for any location you are in the entire world – you’ll see sighting maps, photos, bird finding and identification text, and sounds where available. Additional regional memberships are available to unlock ALL species being reported throughout a continent, or across the world.

Android users have been asking for BirdsEye for years, and we are excited to finally make it available. This milestone was made possible through the generous donations of time and funds by many people, and we are counting on you, our most avid users, to spread the word of the Android launch and make it a success.

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Monarch_20140804-24Interested in learning how to raise and release Monarch butterflies from caterpillars found in your garden?

Join us this Saturday for this free workshop:

Saturday, August 9, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Raising and releasing butterflies can be a great way to not only learn about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies but also see the direct relationship between plants and animals.

We’ll share tips for finding eggs and caterpillars and for raising and releasing Monarchs through the summer and fall.

Rearing cages, milkweed plants and the book “How to Raise Monarch Butterflies” will be available for purchase.

The workshop will be held in the Carriage Museum at Morven Park (17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg). Registration required: Sign Up Online (http://www.loudounwildlife.org/SignUp.htm). Questions: contact us at info@loudounwildlife.org.

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If not, it’s time!!  Here’s snapshot of the sightings that people have posted on Journey North – visit their site to see the details and to submit your own sightings. They’re just south of us and could arrive any day!

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration Map, Spring 2014 - Internet Explorer_2014-04-09_06-30-40

Need a refresher on the sugar water mixture?  It’s very easy:

- 1 cup water (boiled or hot enough to dissolve the sugar)
- 1/4 cup white granulated sugar (just use plain white granulated sugar, don’t get fancy – other sugars and honey are not a good choice since they can cause bacteria to grow and the “nectar” that you buy with red dye isn’t necessarily good for them – and the red dye is not necessary)

Hummingbird_Feeder_Apr_19_2009

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We sure are! And to get ready for it, we got in a shipment of the most awesome field guide: “A Field Guide to the animals of Vernal Pools,” by Leo Kenny and Mathew Burne.

field_guide_vernal_poolsFor those who have come out on our amphibian field trips, this is the field guide that I always have with me.  I actually keep one at home and one in my car or backpack so I’m never without it. Yes – it’s that excellent. What I love about it is that it has species that not only show up in vernal pools but also those that may be found in permanent pools and streams. For frogs and salamanders, it has photos and descriptions of the different life stages (egg masses, tadpoles, adults) which is so helpful.

This guide is produced through the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife and the Vernal Pool Association. So, while the target species are those of New England, it turns out that we have the same species that they focus on here in Loudoun. So it’s a very useful guide for us.

As I said, we took the plunge and bought a number of them so we can make it more readily available to you.  If you’d like to get a copy, you can buy one (while supplies last) at our speaker programs and fair booth or through the store on our website.

Here’s the official description:
The Field Guide is a cooperative effort between the MA Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program and the Vernal Pool Association to produce a pictorial guide which will help students and others to easily identify the vertebrates and invertebrates which are commonly found in vernal pools in Massachusetts. The guide was reprinted June, 2009, with a few minor changes.
The guide contains photographs of all reptiles and amphibians of Massachusetts as well as accounts of the amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates commonly encountered at New England vernal pools. Each account provides a description of the organism and information about its natural history in relation to vernal pools.

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We just set up a Loudoun Wildlife Cafepress shop so you can pick up some new swag and show your support for Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy when you’re out and about.

We still have our regular store for items that we keep in stock and provide at our programs (tshirts, books and stickers). Those are available here.

Here is a sampling of just a few of the new items available through our cafepress store. Click here to see the full selection:

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Wow_Monarch_Ladies_20130416-7A few weeks ago, I picked up a big box of tshirts…fresh off the press from Reston Shirt.

Samantha Gallagher put together a beautiful full color design to help us launch this important Monarch Butterfly Campaign and after getting a few price quotes and hemming and hawing over how many to order and what type of fabric and all that, we jumped in and placed the order.

Justin Cooney and Jason Rhodes were the guys at Reston Shirt that we worked with to translate the artwork into a tshirt and pull it together and man oh man, they did a great job! The colors are vibrant, the quality is perfect! We’re so happy with them!

We opted for a soft organic cotton….since we’re encouraging everyone to go pesticide and herbicide free in their Monarch Waystation gardens, we wanted to be sure to carry this theme through to the tshirts. And, we went big with the beautiful design on both the front and back of the tshirt!

But then the question came of how do we tell you about these great shirts that are so important in spreading the word about the plight of the Monarch butterfly and our effort to keep this magic alive?

Well, I put it on our website in our Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy store, but the pictures look more like mug shots and these tshirts are all about life, and fun, and flight and the magic of this great migration that happens right here through our neighborhoods!

So, a few of us went out….armed with our point-and-shoot and the self timer, to try to better convey the fun of these shirts — and to show you both the front and the back.

If you’d like to buy one (I hope you will!), you can do so through our online store ($25 – includes the cost of shipping). You can also buy them in person ($20) this weekend at the Monarch Butterfly program, at our Annual Meeting (May 19th) and at upcoming Monarch-related programs through the summer while supplies last!

The sizes run pretty true and they don’t shrink much when washed.

By the way, we discovered that the self timer set on 3 seconds results in mostly “butt shots”…10 seconds…far better ;)

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Monarch_Campaign_Sticker_20130412-3-2Just wanted to share the exciting news — Websticker.com, the company that we used to produce the sticker for our Monarch campaign, selected Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and our effort to Bring Back the Monarch, and Keep the Magic Alive, as it’s April charity for its Sticking with You program!!!

We really appreciate the support from this wonderful small business! If you need stickers made for your organization, I highly recommend them – they were fast, fun to work with and the quality of the sticker is great.

We also give a huge thank you to Samantha Gallagher who created the gorgeous artwork for this sticker – as well as for the flier, our tshirt and the poster that you will soon see in local nurseries that are stocking Monarch Waystation plants (milkweeds and nectar plants) this spring and summer.  Samantha is an incredible artist – our gratitude goes out to her!

If you’d like to get one of these great stickers and show your support for Bringing Back the Monarch, you can pick one up for free at any of our Monarch programs or at our fairbooth. They’re also available through our store for a small fee and you can order online.

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pollinator-plate

Just 140 more applications needed and this beautiful license plate will go into production!

Spread the word and get your application today at the link below: http://pollinatorplates.blogspot.com/p/home.html

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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.

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“Thooonnggg!” Oh how I hate when I hear that sound at our house – I know a bird has hit a window and the prognosis will not be good. I’ve noticed that our “regulars” have come to know what the windows are but to the migrants either in fall or spring or some of the juveniles, they may look at the window and see blue sky.

Tufted TitmouseDavid Sibley wrote a great article in Bird Watchers Digest in 2008 on things we can do to help stop birds from hitting our windows.

In it, he writes, “research has shown that at least half of the birds that fly away from window collisions die soon afterward from brain injuries. (Despite what most people think, birds involved in window collisions rarely break their necks.)”

So what can you do?  Here’s a quick list from the article but you can read the whole thing in David’s words here.

1) Position bird feeders to be either 2 feet or closer to the windows or move them to be 30 feet away

2) Break up the reflection on the window (soap works as does not washing your windows)

3) Install window panes – this creates smaller openings that many birds won’t fly through although many still will

4) Install exterior screens or netting that break up the reflection

David has other interesting things that he’s tried (including using a highlighter) and shares them in this article. It’s definitely worth a read.

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