Loudoun Wildlife

It is August already so we are beginning to get ready for the fall Native Plant Sale on Saturday September 10, which will be here before you know it!

Once again we will have the gorgeous, pesticide-free plants from Nature By DesignHill House Farm & Nursery and Watermark Woods. You can visit the nurseries’ websites to see what they have in stock and, if you like, order in advance so you’ll know the plants will be there when you arrive.

Fun at the native plant sale

The plant sale is always fun!
Photo by S.A. Ferguson

In addition, we will again feature the very popular used books sale. If you have duplicate copies of nature books or ones you’d like to donate – preferably nature books with a local focus – please bring them by our office in the Carriage Museum at Morven Park (GPS location: 17171 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg) on any Saturday this month between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. We will be closed Labor Day weekend.

The plant sale will again be at the main parking lot at Morven Park from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. You can read more about it here.



With the very hot weather upon us, this is a good time for some evening outdoor activity. Celebrating National Moth Week might just be the ticket!

National Moth Week takes place the last week of July each year – or has done since its inception five years ago. The Friends of the East Brunswick Environmental Commission (FEBEC) in New Jersey, which coordinates the event globally, encourages everyone to go out and see what moths you can identify and contribute the data as a citizen scientist.

Polyphemous moth

Polyphemous moth. Photo by Nicole Hamilton

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy will mark the week with a program this Friday evening, 7-10 p.m. at the Winmill Carriage Museum at Morven Park. Entomologist David Adamski has been studying moths for many years, part of it as a researcher with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. He’ll not only talk about this species but take participants outside to see what moths show up when he turns on his blacklight! You can find out more about it and sign up for the free program here.

It’s estimated there are more than 150,000 species of moths, which means there are lots and lots of moths large and small and with beautiful patterns for you and your family to discover.

The National Moth Week website  has a lot of information, including book and field guide recommendations, resources for children and more.


Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is grateful to receive again a donation from the Dulles Greenway’s Drive For Charity. The May 19 event set a record high for donations this year with an amazing $331,594.65 collected.  The Greenway says the day of the event was its highest traffic day since 2005.

The Greenway has collected and distributed more than #2.7 million to charities and in scholarships in the 11 years since the program began. Part of the money goes to give a scholarship to at least one student from every high school in Loudoun County.

In addition to Loudoun Wildlife, those receiving donations from the Drive for Charity were:

  • March of Dimes
  • Every Citizen Has Opportunity (ECHO)
  • Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS)
  • Fresh Air/Full Care
  • Dulles Greenway Scholarship Program
  • Loudoun Free Clinic

The Dulles Greenway is a privately owned 14-mile toll road that connects Washington Dulles International Airport with Leesburg.


L-R, VP Joe Coleman, Board member Jill Miller, the Greenway’s Public & Customer Relations Manager Terry Hoffman, Loudoun Wildlife Executive Director Nicole Hamilton, President Katherine Daniels and Secretary Bill Brown.




Are you an organized self-starter, able to work both independently and as part of a team? If the answer’s yes, and you would like to work for a nonprofit with a vision of people and wildlife living in harmony, we might have the job for you!

Loudoun Wildlife is looking for an office management specialist to help our operations run smoothly. For more information, please see the position description.


This is peak Spring bird migration season and millions of birds are coming to or passing through our area on their way north!

You can help celebrate the season and International Migratory Bird Day, which is May 14, by taking part in Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Birdathon. It’s easy! Form a team with friends and/or family to see how many species you see in a 24-hour period between May 1 and May 15.  Supporters can sponsor you with a set amount or per species and can do that on our website here.  You can read more about the event here. There will be prizes for participants in the Birdathon, which is a major fundraiser for Loudoun Wildlife.

As part of the celebration, Loudoun Wildlife will present a special program May 3 on warblers that breed in or migrate through Maryland and Virginia. There will also be a number of special walksGrasshopper-Sparrow the county. We invite you to join us!

You might even see a Grasshopper Sparrow like the one in the photograph, taken by Diane Nastase.

Morven Park Nature Walk — Sunday, May 1, 8:00 a.m. This walk will be led by Nicole Hamilton & Dori Rhodes.  Not only is Morven Park the place that Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy calls home, its 1,000 acres include the Ridge Loop trail, a lowland trail aptly named the Wood Thrush trail, and lots of fields and meadows. In spring wonderful neo-tropical birds are heard and seen: Scarlet Tanagers, warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, kinglets, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, Wild Turkeys, chickadees, nuthatches and other woodland and grassland species. Meet at the Coach House parking lot. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

Identifying and Learning About the Warblers of the Mid-Atlantic Region —Tuesday, May 3, 7:00 p.m. Winmill Carriage Museum, Morven Park. Michael Bowen, Linda Friedland, and Jim Nelson, all past presidents of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Maryland Ornithological Society, will cover nearly every warbler species that breeds in or migrates through Maryland and Virginia. Identification pointers and songs of birds in spring are emphasized. This Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy presentation uses high-resolution photos taken by some of North America’s finest nature photographers and song tracks from the Stokes Bird Song series. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact info@loudounwildlife.org.

Birding at Bles Park — Friday, May 6, 8:00 a.m. This walk will be led by Bill Brown and Jay Hadlock.  Located in Ashburn along the Potomac River, Bles Park includes 94-acres of passive park land with walking, birding and hiking trails. Trails run along fields, wetlands and a stream, which offer a nice diversity of species. Bles is a great place to see a variety of migratory song birds as well as the summer warblers that nest here. Meet in the parking lot. Directions can be found here. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

The Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship — Saturday, May 7, 8:00 a.mBlue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (BRCES). This walk will be led by Joe Coleman and Gerry Hawkins. The center’s 895 acres has vernal pools, meadows, ponds, streams and a rich oak-hickory forest. Located in northwestern Loudoun County, the center not only borders the Appalachian Trail, it is only a couple of miles from the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, and serves as a wonderful sanctuary for Loudoun’s wildlife. The group will meet in the parking lot between Mountain View Farm & the Education Center. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

Beagle Club/Institute Farm  Wednesday, May 11, 8 a.m. This walk will be led by Emily Southgate and Linda Millington. We have special permission to visit the Institute Farm, the home of the National Beagle Club of North America, and on the National Register of Historic Places.  The farm’s brushy, scrubby intermediate habitat, bordered by mature forests, is home to many thicket-loving bird species. This group will also visit a nearby large farm, which includes a large pond and extensive fields. 22265 Oatlands Road, Aldie, VA. Parking in the field. Maximum: 15 people. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

Camp Highroad  Friday, May 13, 8:00 a.m.  This walk will be led by Christine Perdue and Linda Millington. Southwestern Loudoun includes many large farms that include both extensive fields and rich woodlands through which Goose Creek and its many tributaries flow. In the spring it is home to a number of nesting birds as well as many migrants. Camp Highroad is located at 1164 Steptoe Hill Rd, Middleburg. Meet at the main office. Space is limited to 15 people. Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

Birding Banshee — Saturday, May 14, 8:00 a.m. This walk will be led by Jane Yocom and Dori Rhodes. Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve was established as a nature preserve in 1999. Its 725 acres include a variety of nature trails that are great for birding. In addition to a mile of Goose Creek frontage, Banshee has a great diversity of habitats ranging from wetlands and ponds to mixed hardwood forests of oak and hickory to wonderful meadows laden with milkweed, goldenrod and thistle. Questions: Contact jcoleman@loudounwildlife.org.

The Birdiest Time of the Year: Meet Your Birds!  Saturday, May 14, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m., Algonkian Regional Park. Join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and local birders Bill & Della Brown for this special International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) event just for kids and their parents.  We’ll make it easy for you! We’ll point out the birds as you enjoy a morning stroll along the Potomac River. See and hear the birds that travel through our area during this special time of spring migration. Space is limited to 15 children, ages 5+, with accompanying adult(s); please register early. No strollers or pets. Scout groups are welcome. 47000 Fairway Dr, Sterling. Meet at the boat ramp parking lot.  Registration required: Sign Up Online. Questions: Contact info@loudounwildlife.org.


Why did the turtle cross the road?

She was likely living between two ponds, both man made, one in a golf course, the other in a planned townhouse community, separated by what is now a busy Loudoun County road. At some point, her life was destined to intersect with a mass of metal moving at 50 mph. It didn’t take much to crack her carapace and flip her over. I found her upside down, legs waving frantically, in the middle of the road. Her injury didn’t look too bad (considering) and she was feisty (a good sign). Painted with brilliant red and yellow veins, she was a gorgeous painted turtle in the prime of her life.

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On the way to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center where she would receive treatment and their magical healing abilities.

Painted turtles are the most widely distributed turtles in North America. They spend their lives in and near freshwater habitats with soft bottoms. In Native American folklore, a turtle fell in love with the chief’s daughter but neither the daughter nor her parents would take notice of him. Finally, he painted himself to attract attention and as soon as the chief’s daughter saw him, she fell in love and followed him to the water where she became a soft shelled turtle.

After a week of treatment by the highly skilled angels at Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, she was ready for release. Painted turtles, along with other turtle species, must be released where they are found. Relocating turtles spreads disease and can result in the turtle dying in its attempt to return to its home territory. Nicole Hamilton, Executive Director of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, suggested using Google Maps satellite imagery to look for a safer place within a mile of where she was found. Just a bit over a mile away, still within a reasonable range, the Willowsford Grange Community with native wildflower meadows bordered by creeks and wildlife friendly residents and farmers, provided everything this girl needed to spend what would hopefully be an uneventful remainder of her 40 or so years of life.

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After meeting her new neighbors at the Willowsford farm stand, she was ready for her new beginning.

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We walked along the stream bed in a gentle drizzle to where a giant blue lobelia was blooming.

She took her time making her way to the water. Maybe she was resetting her internal compass, or perhaps she was taking a moment to absorb her peaceful surroundings, so different from her previous home.

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…finally, she entered the water. Live long and prosper beautiful painted turtle.

Please drive carefully. Their lives depend on us.

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Huge thanks to all the volunteers who planted 9000 native plants for Monarch butterflies! The planting occurred Sept. 29 at the Dale City rest area at mile marker 156 of I-95 heading north – and yes! Monarch butterflies heading south were seen and wished a safe journey.

Way to go, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, VDOT and VA Dominion Power for teaming up to keep the magic alive.

We are making a difference!






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.


Rachel Carson said, “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

This year, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is expanding its Youth and Family Programs by adding a host of field trips, nature walks, school programs, and speaker programs designed specifically for Loudoun’s K-12 citizens.  We know our young stewards are the future of conservation and people and wildlife living in harmony. Please check our programs calendar to sign up!

One of the main features to this new effort is the addition of the  “We’re Going Wild” Family Nature Walks, a series of discovery hikes in various natural habitats all over the county, and led by seasoned naturalists.  These walks are special because they are EDU-taining and designed to be hands-on, unstructured to allow for deeper exploration of findings, and FUN for FREE!

They are not just for the kids, but also for their families!  When families go wild together, a special process of shared learning takes place…where adults and children are students together as equals.  This is a significantly powerful paradigm shift that creates a richer learning environment for children learning alongside their adult role models!  This further fosters applying new knowledge together outside of our programs–in your own backyards and communities.

This group WENT WILD at Algonkian Regional Park on May 17, 2015.

This group WENT WILD at Algonkian Regional Park on May 17, 2015. Guide Ed Clark (far left) will see you again in June for the next “We’re Going Wild” Family Nature Walk at  the South Riding Blvd. pond…on Father’s Day, June 21st!

Our first “We’re Going Wild” walk took place Sunday, May 17th at Algonkian Regional Park on The Woodlands trail along the beautiful Potomac River. Local entomologist and naturalist, Ed Clark, led an enthusiastic and inquisitive group of families who seemed to have an EYE for wildlife!  Highlights of the many exciting finds on their 1.5 mile hike were a Broad-headed Skink, North American Millipedes, 6-spotted Tiger beetles, Blue-Black beetles, Skippers, and this season’s Eastern Tent Caterpillars and their tented silk nests. Additionally, hikers studied the difference between a beetle and a true bug, as well as between dragonflies and damselflies.

Broad-headed Skink

Broad-headed Skink

Plant ID included Poison Hemlock, Poison Ivy, Bush Honeysuckle/ Barberry Bush/Autumn Olive (providing the platform for a talk about non-native plants), Multi Floral Rose, Pawpaw trees (host plant for Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly), Wingstem (native aster blooming yellow later in summer), Deer Tongue plant, Morning Glory and Bindweed, Virginia Creeper, Common Milkweed (host plant for Monarch Butterflies), and Sycamore trees.

Our families also found the handiwork of wood-peckers on trees, identified as work of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker based on the pecking patterns in the tree bark, and they enjoyed learning the distinct songs of the Cedar Waxwing, Warbling Vireo, and Gray Catbird.

What an exciting day spent outdoors on the trail together!

Please join us for next month’s walk:

“We’re Going Wild” Family Nature Walk Series ― Sunday, June 21, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., South Riding Blvd. Pond, South Riding. Join Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and local naturalist and USDA entomologist Ed Clark to explore the natural world through the wonder-filled eyes of children! This series of family nature walks invites families to explore the wide world of nature together, led by an expert in nature and fun! This month’s walk will explore a community pond habitat during pollinator week and ON Father’s Day! Space is limited to 12 children, ages 7+, with accompanying adult. Note: Not designed for Scout groups; no strollers or pets. Registration required: Sign Up Online.




Give the Gift of Nature to Loudoun’s Youth…..Choose Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy!

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is on a mission to expand our Youth & Family Programs. Specifically we need your help funding 10 Nature Programs and Field Trips that engage experts in teaching youth about local wildlife & habitats.
Our goal is to reach 200 children through programs offered free to our community.

Children have a natural love of nature. Won’t you help give them the opportunity to nurture that love?

LWC youth pic  20130324 discovery walk (23) corrected

On May 5th, for one 24 hour period, you can choose Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and help us help the children of Loudoun County.  Click Here on May 5th!

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THANK YOU for GIVING to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and help nature come alive for Loudoun’s children!  Mark your Calendars for May 5th – when the giving begins!

GIVE…CHOOSE Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy!




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