Entries tagged with “virginia wildlife”.


Found this video on Eastern Box Turtles that I thought you might enjoy too:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFxABr_WSYc

Over the next few months, box turtles will be on the move. Keep an eye out for them in and along roads and move them to safety (in the direction they were moving) so they don’t get killed.

It’s important not to collect them or remove them from their home range because they are very faithful to the acres in which they grew up. 

You can learn more about box turtles by listening to our podcast too: Eastern Box Turtles.

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In Canada, they celebrate National Beaver Day on the last Friday in February but here in the US, it’s celebrated on April 7th.

Here’s a wonderful YouTube video done by the BBC that has great footage of dam building and other activity. :
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyNA62FrKCE&feature=related

If there are human/beaver conflicts going on near you – the beavers don’t need to be evicted. 

There are all sorts of solutions to protect trees and even address any unwanted flooding from dam activities. Check out our Beaver Solutions page for a video.

Here are some fun beaver facts that you can use to amaze your friends:

- Beavers are the second largest rodent in the world
- Beavers mate for life
- Dams made by Beavers prevent flooding disasters and create valuable wetland habitats
- Beavers live in suburban settings wherever there is flowing water like creeks, streams, rivers

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Here’s a short video telling about our Virginia Opossum:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNtlMfrhbE4&feature=channel

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Did you know…..our eastern Gray Squirrels breed twice a year…once in the winter (December – February) and once in the spring (May – June). 

As we hit the middle of February, the winter brood is being born and in about 7-10 weeks when they are weaned and start to leave the nest, we’ll start to see the little squirrel pups.

The squirrel nest is known as a drey and is located high up in a tree. It’s made of sticks, leaves and soft mosses. Often, squirrels will make a couple of dreys in case something happens.  We witnessed this first hand a few years ago when a tree came down in our neighbor’s yard. Wasting no time at all, we watched the mother squirrel take the babies out of the fallen nest and straight up another tree into another drey.

In the wild, our Gray Squirrels live up to about 12 years of age.

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So why do some folks smirk at Squirrel Appreciation day but then gin up all this hullabaloo over Groundhog day? Go figure….they’re both neat animals and I’m glad we celebrate them!

Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks (even though they don’t chuck wood). They’re great at digging at create really neat underground habitats with different entrances and exits and underground rooms. Here’s a nice video on groundhog life and times:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZheMY_UppW4 

Mostly, the Groundhog Day tradition is about the change in seasons and having enough harvest left to make it through winter.   There’s a rhyme that shows this:

As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If Candlemas be cloud and rain
Winter will be gone and not come again
A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop

The date itself is rooted in observations that Scottish, English and German farmers had hundreds of years ago that this was a waypoint (almost the midpoint) between winter (Winter Solstice was Dec 21) and the first day of Spring (Vernal Equinox is March 20) and that animals, like the Groundhog, wouldn’t come out of hibernation until the weather had started to turn for the better.

Coming out of hibernation too early or, in the case of humans, not having enough harvest left, could mean starvation.

In Europe, farmers watched the cues of hedgehogs but as people (e.g.,Germans)  immigrated to America (places like PA and other northeastern states), they incorporated the groundhog into their tradition and lore - and who wouldn’t! They’re awfully cute!

Happy Groundhog Day!

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This may not have been pre-printed on your calendar but indeed, today is Squirrel Appreciation Day. :)

In case you’re not sure exactly what to do on Squirrel Appreciation Day, here are some tips that I came across while browsing online as well as a few of the things that I do on this special day:

1) Give a squirrel a treat!  Get some nice tasty seeds, nuts or suet from a local feed store and put those out for squirrels to enjoy.  Places like Rust Nature Sanctuary Shop or Tractor Supply in Leesburg, or Southern States in Purcellville, or The Bird Feeder in Reston all have great selections.

2) Make a peanut butter pine cone and hang it in a tree. Just find a pine cone and smear peanut butter into the crevices.  For extra goodness, roll it in some nuts. The squirrels will love it.

3) Swap out your computer’s desktop wallpaper for the day with a picture of a cute squirrel. To do this, just find a picture you like online, right-click the picture and select “Set picture as desktop background.”

4) Check out some cool squirrel videos on YouTube. This one is just a minute long and is all about squirrels.  In addition to this, people have posted a variety of videos showing squirrel antics:
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8B0qy0vJj0&feature=fvw

5) And don’t forget about our flying squirrels!  Smear peanut butter on a tree for a few nights and you may be able to see them.  Here’s our podcast all about Flying Squirrels and the fun you can have with them.

6) Have a Squirrel Party!  Invite a few friends over, play some scrabble or poker or something, put out some assorted nuts for snacks, find some fun squirrel-themed party favors. I know, you just found out about this and didn’t have time to plan!  That’s ok.  The squirrels won’t mind if you celebrate a few days late — they probably don’t even know about Squirrel Appreciation Day (and your friends probably don’t either unless they read this blog post). 

Anyway, have fun. Squirrels can be silly and silly is good!

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The next time we have a dusting of snow, take a look for squirrel tracks.  This video gives interesting insights into how our common Gray Squirrels bound along the ground. Only downside of the video is that it starts with an adverisement (sorry – at least it’s short).

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5M3ofJqHSM

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If you are, here’s a great newsletter produced by Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife – an organization dedicated to promoting greater understanding for beavers and their role in our communities.

They also engage in efforts to enable people to better coexist with beavers and you can read about some of their projects in the newsletter.

Beavers are here in spots around Loudoun County and often people just don’t understand the great benefit they provide. Flooding of certain areas as a result of their dam activities can be easily mitigated. Projects like that are great for Eagle Scouts and other groups to rally around.

For more information about Beavers, visit our Habitat Herald beaver articles (there’s a video here on Beavers as well as articles) or our Educational Resources Beavers page. Also visit the Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife site.

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So, last Saturday we were at a picnic in Round Hill celebrating the nuptials of two dear friends.  As we stood in the field sipping lemonade at about 5pm, a number of us noticed all these flying insects.  They weren’t biting and were high enough over our heads that no one was bothered by them. So, we continued with our chats, hoped for some bats to come through and put on a show, and soon forgot about the insects.

The next day, I received an email through our Loudoun Widlife Conservancy yahoo group from Jim W asking if anyone knew about some insects that emerged around 4pm also in Round Hill. He wrote:

“we noticed hundreds of flying insects all throughout our yard, flying near the ground or as high as 10-20 feet above the ground. As we walked into our grass, we noticed lots (hundreds if not thousands) of mounds of ants (we think they were ants), as well as larger insects with wings among the ants. These clusters of ants and insects were everywhere it seemed. The winged insects among the ants were the ones that were flying around. We needed to leave, and when we got back home about 6:30, everything was gone.”

Then, we heard that another member, Beth A., had the same experience in Lovettsville, also on Saturday afternoon.

Curious, we called in the experts (Cliff Fairweather, Phil Daley, Joe Coleman) and inquired.

Cliff responded back with the answer to our mystery of what insects they were:

“I’m sure Phil has already answered the question, but the phenomenon Jim reported was the emergence of reproductive forms of ants. During most of the year, a queen ant produces sterile, flightless workers, but from time-to-time she produces a generation of flighted males and females that disperse in swarms and, if they survive, mate. The males die soon after mating and the females lose their wings. Like other social hymenoptera, fertilized females go on to found new colonies, assuming they survive and find a suitable colony site.”

Jim posted a photo on our yahoo group page for anyone interested: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/loudounwildlife/

Did anyone else notice this occurrance?

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Beavers are great members of the wild kingdom – they play such a critical role in our ecosystem, helping develop and maintain wetlands which serve as some of the richest habitats in our area.

I recently received the latest issue of Beaversprite – the newsletter prepared by a great organization called Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife, and in it they talked about International Beaver Day and some ideas on how to celebrate our wetland engineers:

“International Beaver Day on April 7 celebrates the “keepers of the streams.” It is a great time to hike to a beaver pond, read a beaver book, attend or give a beaver program and write a letter to the editor about these amazing animals. Beavers: Wetlands & Wildlife has beaver brochures and other materials available about this keystone species and ways to coexist with the animal that restores our land’s best life support system.”

There’s a beaver pond over at Banshee Reeks Nature Preseve in Leesburg – not sure if the beavers are active there this year but it’s worth a check. 

Check out this latest issue of Beaversprite as well as the Beavers Wetlands and Wildlife website to learn more about living well with Beavers. They’re really cool friends.

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