The Botany of Desire (And How I Got Hooked on Native Orchids), Webinar, August 20th

Photo: Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Tuesday, August 20, 2024
7 pm
Webinar by Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Register here.

How do plants make a living? That question has propelled botanist Dennis Whigham for his nearly 47-year career with the Smithsonian. Orchids were especially bewitching. Join Dennis for a journey of discovery through the orchid world. He’ll take you from their unlikely beginnings as “dust seeds,” to the microscopic fungi they depend on to thrive, to their quirky—or downright sneaky—strategies to get pollinated. He’ll also reveal some of the most shocking discoveries, including the realization that more than half our continent’s native orchids are in trouble. Discover how stewards across the continent are rallying to save native orchids through the North American Orchid Conservation Center, and what you can do to help ensure their survival.

Understanding Cephalopod Behavior, Webinar, August 26th

Photo: Smithsonian Associates

Monday, August 26, 2024
6:45 – 8:15 pm
Smithsonian Associates Webinar
$20 members/$25 nonmembers
Register here.

Some stories that people tell about octopuses almost defy belief. These animals are said to steal from fishermen, escape from aquariums, invent tools, play with toys, make friends, and hold grudges. How many of these tales are true and how many are a result of human imagination or anthropomorphism?

Scientists have indeed documented extraordinary cognitive capacity and behavioral flexibility not only in octopuses but also in their close relatives, squids and cuttlefish. Members of this group of animals, called cephalopods, have large brains and the ability to adapt to myriad situations with creative problem-solving. They can learn quickly, remember what they’ve learned, and communicate with members of their own and other species. Biologist Danna Staaf, who has written several books about cephalopods, sorts fact from fancy and dissects the question of how intelligent they are to see what we can learn from them about our definition of intelligence.

Bird Hill Grassland Field Trip, September 7th

Image: Courtesy of the Clifton Institute

Saturday, September 7, 2024
10:00 am
 – 12:00 pm

Cost: $15 ($10 for Friends of Clifton)

Registration is REQUIRED.

This program will be held at the residence of the Clifton Institute co-directors to experience a remnant prairie, a planted meadow, and a native plant garden. The remnant prairie on the property hosts a remarkable assemblage of native wildflowers and grasses over sandstone bedrock. Bert and Eleanor are managing the prairie with mowing, burning, and invasive plant control. They have also planted a one-acre meadow on an old lawn and they’ve worked with Hill House Nursery to establish a native plant garden.

This program is a case study of how landowners can manage their land to benefit native plants and animals on a relatively small property.

Location: Near Orlean, VA. Registered attendees will be emailed the address and directions.


Bug Fest 2024, September 28th

Photo: FCPA, Tammy Tammy Schwab running the bug identification station at the Bug Fest at Lewinsville park.

Saturday, September 28, 2024
10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Cost: $8.00

Registration: Register starting July 30

Lake Accotink Park
7500 Accotink Park Road in Springfield
For more information, visit:

Insect fans are sure to find something to enjoy at the FCPA third year of Bug Fest at a new location, Lake Accotink, on Saturday, September 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants will be able to enjoy bug-themed programs, activities and demonstrations. Embark on an insect safari, discover live insects, inspect insect collections, roll over logs to find creatures, play in soil stations, go on bug walks and hear critter talks. You will also have the chance to design your own bug and use technology to examine the world of insects.

Allies in Amphibian Conservation: Leveraging Partners for Success, Webinar, July 16th

Photo: SERC

Tuesday, July 16, 2024
7 pm
Hosted by Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC)
Register here.

From frogs to salamanders, amphibians are secretive but essential to our health and the function our ecosystems. But despite their critical role, amphibians are facing a crisis: Over 40% are threatened with extinction. How can we reduce that loss? Join Kerry Wixted with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies as SERC dives into the fascinating world of amphibian biodiversity in the eastern United States, a global amphibian hotspot. Learn about the alarming threats amphibians face, from habitat loss to climate change and disease, as well as rays of hope. Kerry will cover the inspiring efforts of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) and their dedicated partner network working at local, regional, and national levels to combat these threats and ensure a future for our amphibians.

Beyond the Horizon: Going the Distance for Seabirds, Webinar, July 25th

Image: American Bird Conservancy

Thursday, July 25, 2024
4 pm
Presented by American Bird Conservancy (ABC)
Register here.

Seabirds were humans’ first companions when we ventured onto the ocean. With adaptations for long flights over open waters, seabirds like the Laysan Albatross endure some of the harshest conditions on Earth. They are champions of the bird world, holding records for longest migration, deepest diver, largest wingspan, and more!

These often unseen birds are critical to marine ecosystems. For example, healthy colonies of seabirds on islands create healthier surrounding reefs, which are nurseries for the fish many people eat.

Seabirds, however, are one of the most endangered groups of birds. Their populations have dropped a staggering 70 percent globally over the past 60 years due to factors such as invasive species, unsustainable fisheries, and marine trash.

American Bird Conservancy’s Marine Program is working tirelessly with partners to safeguard the most vulnerable species both while at sea, and on land where they nest.

If you can’t make the webinar live, RSVP anyway and they’ll send you a recording to enjoy when the time is right for you.

North American Butterfly Association Counts – Find One Near You

Photo: Rick Ahrens (NABA)

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) has run the Butterfly Count Program in the United States, Canada, and Mexico since 1993. Each of the approximately 450 annual counts consists of a compilation of all butterflies observed at sites within a 15-mile diameter count circle in a one-day period.

The annually published reports provide a tremendous amount of information about the geographical distribution and relative population sizes of the species counted. Comparisons of the results across years can be used to monitor changes in butterfly populations and study the effects of weather and habitat change on North American butterflies.

Counts are open to the public and count on new participants like you. Depending on the count, one or more parties will survey sites within the 15-mile diameter count circle on a given day. Butterfly counts are driven by butterfly lovers just like you. All it takes is a desire to participate in a day-long count to help track the North American butterfly populations.

Find an active count near you on the map page, e.g., search for “Virginia.” (The map takes a moment to work so be patient.) Once you contact them, the compiler (count leader) will let you know when and where to meet.