Fruit Talks and Field Walks: Persimmons with Eliza Greenman – November 11

Photo: Persimmon, Keith Bradley

Thursday, November 11, 2021
7 – 8 PM

Field Trip:
Saturday, November 13, 2021
8 AM – Noon
Oak Spring Garden Foundation, Upperville, VA

Fees: Workshop only: $15; Workshop and field walk: $75

Register here.

Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for an exciting new series with Oak
Spring Garden Foundation that focuses on native and heritage trees. The first
workshop will be led by Eliza Greenman, a fruit explorer, horticultural historian,
designer, and implementer of agroforestry. Learn more about Eliza and her work here.

Eliza will lead participants in a one-hour online class, followed by a half-day field
trip to Oak Spring Garden Foundation. They will be outdoors and walking
in the field. Please wear comfortable clothing and appropriate shoes.

Mysterious Nature and Lore with the Capital Naturalist, October 12th

Photo courtesy of ANS

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
7 pm
Online session.
Register here.

Enjoy a night of mystery and intrigue with the Capital Naturalist Alonso Abugattas. During this talk, attendees will enjoy learning some of the lesser-known natural phenomena in our region and their influence on our culture. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to engage with one of Audubon Naturalist Society‘s most dynamic speakers!

Neabsco Creek Boardwalk – CE Hike

Jerry Nissley

Cover Photo – Barbara J. Saffir

Welcome to the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk, which is part of the Neabsco Regional Park in Prince William county and the site of the latest FMN hosted CE Hike. As the name implies CE Hikes are arranged around a specific educational outdoor activity and then offered to FMN members only for Continuing Education (CE) credits. The CE walk along the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk was designed as a natural history walk to collect observations and to instruct people on how to improve their photos for iNaturalist. The event was a resounding success. It was informative, it included the exciting element of discovery, and the group had fun. The group spotted dozens of Green Tree Frogs (Hyla cinerea), identified and recorded copious plants, several katydids, a hummingbird (Archilochus colubris), dragon flies, garden spider (Argiope aurantia) with egg sac, and many other plants and creatures in the time we were there.

Barbara J. Saffir
Barbara J. Saffir

An iNaturalist project was created and participants were afforded the opportunity to join and contribute photos into the project either while in the field or later after post-processing photos at home. Some of those photos are included in this article along with views from the boardwalk.

Participants were Fairfax Master Naturalists David Gorsline, Hunter Loftin, Sharon Rhoades, Diane Bowen, Jose Martinez, Harry Iredale, and Jerry Nissley along with hike leader Barbara J. Saffir. Having a group comprised of master naturalists was value added because each member was able to contribute nuggets of learned knowledge and field experience, which enhanced the learning potential of the collective. 

Be on the look out for future FMN CE Hikes announced through the FMN newsletter, Facebook, and other social media. Any announcement will include an automated enrollment function for FMN members to sign up.

Axanthic Green Tree Frog – Jerry Nissley
Green Tree Frogs – Jerry Nissley

Sustainable Landscaping Webinar, October 8th

Photos courtesy of PEC

Friday, October 8, 2021
12 – 1:30 pm
Register here.

Join Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) during your Friday lunch hour for this free, informative webinar, including three presentations by guest speakers Jim McGlone (Virginia Department of Forestry), Tim Ohlwiler (Virginia Cooperative Extension), and David Wood (Chesapeake Stormwater Network).

Building a Garden Ecosystem – Jim McGlone
Learn about the role of plants and insects in your garden and how using native plants can change your garden into a self-sustaining low maintenance garden ecosystem that grows beautiful plants and attracts pollinators like butterflies.

Solutions to Challenging Soils and Locations – Tim Ohlwiler
Virginia gardeners often have problems with drought, high pH soils, compacted soils, sidewalks and other challenges with planting trees. Tim will talk about evaluating soils in difficult locations and then share some of his favorite trees for those challenging locations.

Build Your Own Rain Garden – David Wood
Looking for landscaping tips that can help attract birds and pollinators and maybe even treat a bit of stormwater runoff? David will discuss how to design and build your own backyard rain garden. Learn how to boost backyard habitat and reduce nuisance flooding on your property in an environmentally friendly way.

Shoreline Cleanup, Mason Neck State Park, September 25th

Photo: Jerry Nissley

Mason Neck State Park
7301 High Point Rd., Lorton, VA 22079
(Meet at the Visitor’s Center)
Saturday, September 25, 2021
9 am

Can you help keep Mason Neck State Park looking good? The Potomac and Occoquan Rivers bring trash of all kinds to the shores of the Park. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park will lead a cleanup of the shoreline on National Public Lands Day (Saturday, September 25). They’ll have gloves, trash bags and a few “grabbers” to help you pick up the smaller stuff. Please bring waterproof shoes or boots. The tide will be high that morning, and you are almost certain to get wet.

For those who are experienced paddlers, they’ll have canoes, paddles and life vests available so you can collect trash that is not acessible from the shore. Thanks to the generosity of Prince William Marina, we’ll have snacks available to keep your energy levels high while you clean up the park.

Review of A Most Remarkable Creature, by Jonathan Meiburg

Review by FMN David Gorsline

Musician, traveler, and nature writer Jonathan Meiburg begins his book with a mystery: who — or what — killed bird G7? Eventually, he answers that question. Along the way, into his story of caracaras living and extinct, he packs 16 pages of excellent color photographs, a magpie’s collection of 50 pages of end notes, and a challenging trip up Guyana’s Rewa River.

We naturalists of the mid-Atlantic rarely encounter caracaras on our home turf. Only one species of these birds of prey, Crested Caracara (Caracara plancus), has a range that extends into Texas and Florida (older authorities recognize this population as C. cheriway). But the group is extensively represented in South America by five genera, occupying a variety of habitats. Meiburg describes the general body plan as “ten separate attempts to build a crow on a falcon chassis, with results falling somewhere between elegant, menacing, and whimsical” (p. 9); caracaras share with (not closely related) corvids intelligence and curiosity. In short, an engaging subject for Meiburg’s equally engaging book.

The book’s coverage of these ten species is a bit uneven, with emphasis on the wild birds found where Meiburg was able to travel. Readers might regret the material devoted to captive birds in aviaries in the United Kingdom, but with a bird so adaptable to living with humans, perhaps these are pages well spent.

The book’s strengths are that trip up the piranha-laden Rewa to see “bush auntie-man” (Red-throated Caracara, Ibycter americanus), involving a waterfall portage, columns of army ants, and crab-sized Theraphosa spiders; a visit to minor islands of the Falklands archipelago to find “Johnny rook” G7’s killer; and Meiburg’s introduction of 19th-century Anglo-Argentine naturalist William Henry Hudson. Hudson was closely observant, and more than a bit romantic.

Depending on your taste, your reaction to Meiburg’s anthropomorphizing may vary; it’s mostly endearing, and maybe unavoidable when a Black Caracara (Daptrius ater) peers at you with affable opportunism.

A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Birds of Prey, by Jonathan Meiburg, Knopf, New York, 2021, 336 pages

Wintering Waterbirds, October 20th

Photo: Fred Siskind

Wednesday, October 20, 2021
7 pm
Register here.

Join Friends of Dyke Marsh for Greg Butcher’s presentation on wintering waterbirds. Mr. Butcher will introduce the diversity of waterbirds that spend the winter in Northern Virginia and explain the difference between waterbirds and waterfowl. He will also review citizen science studies and conservation needs for birds and people along the Potomac River.

Mr. Butcher is Vice President of Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and Migratory Species Coordinator, the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs.

How to Set Up a Mosquito Larva Trap

Photos and article by FMN Jill Spohn

During a talk by Douglas W. Tallamy, an entomologist at the University of Delaware, he suggested controlling mosquitos at the larval stage instead of the adult stage. Spraying adult stage mosquitos requires spraying at such high concentration that it kills all insects, not just mosquitos which results in a loss of beneficial insects as well as nuisance insects.

Beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies and their larva are being eliminated at an alarming rate. Insects are at the base of the food web; without them, birds and other creatures that rely on insects are challenged to find enough food for themselves and their young. When they eat sprayed insects, the insecticide can build up and affect their health.

There is an effective alternative to harmful mosquito spraying – mosquito larva traps

A mosquito larva trap works because adult mosquitos are drawn to a fermenting solution and lay their eggs. The mosquito dunk that is added has a biological bacterial control that ONLY affects mosquitos. Dr. Tallamy noted in an email that this affects only aquatic Dipteran.

I have tried this method at home in Northern Virginia and in Maine and have seen an impressive lack of mosquitos and pleasant times outdoors. I am a believer!

Dr. Tallamy has graciously given me permission to include this section from his book, Nature’s Best Hope, page 210:

Oppose mindless mosquito spraying by your township or HOA. Contrary to what the fogger operator may have told you, the pyrethroid-based insecticides used by mosquito foggers indiscriminately kill all insects, not just the mosquitos. Ironically, targeting adult mosquitos is the worst and by far the most expensive approach to mosquito control, because mosquitos are best controlled in the larval stage. Put a five-gallon bucket of water in a sunny place in your yard and add a handful of hay or straw. After a few days, the resulting brew is irresistible to gravid (egg-filled) female mosquitos. After the mosquitos have laid their eggs, add a commercially available mosquito dunk tablet that contains Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a natural larvicide, to your bucket. The eggs will hatch and the larvae will die. This way, you control mosquitos, and only mosquitos, without the use of harmful insecticides.

Learn more about Dr. Tallamy’s work in this video presentation.

It is also essential that you eliminate or reduce the standing water on your property. 

The CDC provides advice on how to control insects at home here and information on the mosquito lifecycle here.

Steps for making a Mosquito Larva Trap

What you need:

  • Bucket
  • Straw or Hay
  • Water – funky water from a rain barrel would also work, says Tallamy
  • Mosquito Dunk or another brand containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
  • Chicken Wire or similar screening – optional.

1. Setting Up the Trap

  • Use an empty bucket

2. Add hay or straw to the bucket. I used 3 or 4 handfuls here – 3 or 4 cups.


3. Add water to the bucket. I fill the bucket up halfway. My ratio of hay to water is about 1 to 4.


4. Allow the water and organic matter to ferment for a few days. I usually let it sit for 3 days but if it’s hot, you probably need less time.

5. After 3 days, the mixture has fermented. Add the mosquito dunk.


Place Mosquito Dunk in the bucket on top of the fermenting solution. Dr. Tallamy may know when a mosquito has laid eggs, but I don’t. I place the Mosquito Dunk in right before I set the trap.


6. Cover with chicken wire or similar screening that allows adult mosquitos into the solution, but keeps other critters out. Be careful of the sharp points on the chicken wire.

7. Set in place. Dr. Tallamy recommends a sunny spot but I have placed it in dappled shade with good results. The Mosquito Dunk lasts for about a month and I replace the solution after about 3 or 4 weeks.

I try to put the traps close to places where we have had mosquito issues and keep them out of the way of our dogs. They should be out of the reach of children as well.


Fundamentals of Avian Biology, the Study of Birds: Fall Session with Dr. Chris Haney, Oct. 4 – Nov. 15, 2021

Dr. Chris Haney photo courtesy of ASNV

Mondays and Wednesdays, October 4 – November 15, 2021
7-8 pm
Field trips: October 16 (Rain Date: 23); November 6 (Rain Date: 13)
Cost: $150 member/$175 non-member online only; $250 member/$275 non-member online and field trips
More information and register here.

Are you new to birding and want to learn more or just want to dig deeper into the subject? Then this Audubon Society of Northern Virginia class is for you.

This course is designed and presented at an introductory, university level in 6 parts, with each week’s worth of classroom instruction equaling 2 hours. Fundamentals of Avian Biology, Part 1 will feature the major underpinnings to ornithology within a context of U.S. national history. Topics covered in this class encompass: the origins and then separation of amateur from professional interest in birds; form and function in the avian body; avian flight mechanics, movement, and dispersal; bird distribution and biogeography; evolutionary relationships and naming systems for birds; and standardized field methods used to study birds. Whenever appropriate, contrasting perspectives are offered, including controversial views that arose from reliance on different theories or applications. Instructional presentations will include PowerPoint slides, auditory or video supplements, and some in-class participatory exercises.

Want Ad: Fairfax County Park Authority: Hidden Oaks Nature Center Scout Program Coordinator

Hidden Oaks Nature Center (Annandale, VA. , a facility of Fairfax County Park Authority, is hiring a scout program coordinator naturalist. This position is responsible for coordinating a team of three to prepare, present and coordinate the site’s boy and girl scout programming plus prepare and present other family programs. The position requires someone who is flexible with weekend hours. Must be willing to be a Boy Scout Merit Badge counselor through Boy Scouts of America. Some summer day camp development and presentation required. Average 25 hours/week with a maximum of 30 hours/week. Average 5-8 hours/day. Pay scale $15.33-$16.50/hour. Limited benefits available. View the full job announcement here.

Questions? Contact Suzanne Holland or [email protected]. More information at

To apply: Send your resume to [email protected].