Science Saturday: Kestrel Watch, April 29th

Image: Courtesy of The Clifton Institute

Saturday, April 29, 2023
9:00 AM
 – 3:00 PM

The Clifton Institue
6712 Blantyre Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20187

Cost: Free
Registration is REQUIRED.

In what The Clifton Institute hopes will become a regular occurrence, they are inviting the public to participate in one of their ongoing research projects. This time you’ll help them track American Kestrels that have been outfitted with GPS transmitters, collect vegetation data in different types of fields, and visit ink-pad tracks to see what kinds of rodents have been visiting. This is a great opportunity to see what it’s like to do field research and to learn about some fascinating native species. Participants will start at the Clifton Institute and then drive to a few nearby properties where kestrels are known to hang out. From Clifton, it is encouraged but not required to carpool in as few cars as possible. They are looking forward to a beautiful day in the field with you!

Beavers and Why They Matter, April 1

Photo by Amy Johnson, VWL

Saturday,  April 1, 2023
2:00 PM
Virtual On-Line Program

Free but registration required.


If you have walked Mason Neck State Park’s Bayview Trail, you’ve probably noticed the vibrant
wetlands about halfway along the trail. The wetlands have been improved by a colony of
beavers, whose lodge you can see toward the far end of the wetland. Would you like to learn
more about beavers and their impact on the environment?

Alison Zak, the Executive Director of the Human-Beaver Coexistence Fund (HBCF), will present a brief
history of human interactions with beavers over time, an overview of beaver ecology and
behavior, and an exploration of the benefits that beavers and the wetlands they create provide
to the health of our watersheds, landscapes, and communities. Park Staff will present a short
overview of how the beavers in the wetland along the Park’s Bayview Trail have changed the
ecology of the wetland.

Alison studied anthropology and human-wildlife conflict in graduate school, then worked for six
years in environmental education and outreach before founding HBCF. She is particularly
intrigued, inspired, and challenged by human-beaver coexistence work, because few other
animals have such an impact on the world around them. Alison is also the author of Wild Asana:
Animals, Yoga, and Connecting Our Practice to the Natural World, which comes out in June.
You can register for the program here.  Zoom login information will be sent to registrants on
March 31.


Audubon Afternoon In-Person with Guest Speaker Marci Eggers, March 12th

Sun, March 12, 2023
2:30 – 4:00 PM

Registration is requested. This will be a hybrid event. If you choose to attend via Zoom, please select a Virtual Ticket.

The Audubon Afternoon is free.

11100 Wildlife Center
11100 Wildlife Center Drive
Reston, VA 20190



Join the ASNV on Sunday afternoon for their semi-annual live Audubon Afternoon at the National Wildlife Federation, 11100 Wildlife Center Drive in Reston.

They gather informally starting at 2:30 so you have an opportunity to reconnect with everyone. We welcome any food and drink you would like to share with everyone during the informal portion of the program. At 3 PM, they will have a presentation by Marci Eggers, “Restoring Migratory Bird Wintering Habitat in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Marci Eggers is the Director of Migratory Bird Habitats in Latin America and the Caribbean for the American Bird Conservancy (ABC). In this role, she oversees ABC’s efforts to protect and restore priority landscapes that migratory birds depend on in their non-breeding grounds. ABC works in collaboration with ranchers, farmers, and local communities that depend on the health of the natural environment for their livelihoods. ABC also works on innovative finance solutions to advance migratory bird conservation.

The Audubon Afternoon is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

This will be a hybrid event. If you choose to attend via Zoom, please select a Virtual Ticket. If you plan to attend in person, please select an In-person Ticket. This will help plans to accommodate everyone. Everyone registering, whether for In-person or Virtual Tickets, will get the Zoom information via email in case plans to attend in person change.

Registration is requested, so they have an idea of how many people will attend but is not required unless you plan to attend via Zoom. You are welcome to bring friends or family who did not register, or just show up!

Huntley Meadows Photography Exhibit: SATURDAY, March 4th

Photo: White-tailed Kites, Jack Zhi/Audubon Photography Awards 2022 Grand Prize Winner

Sunday, March 4, 2023
1:00 – 3:00 PM
The Norma Hoffman Visitor Center
Huntley Meadows
3701 Lockheed Blvd, Alexandria, VA 22306

Free but donations appreciated.
No registration required.

Please join this opportunity to view the 2022 Audubon Photography Awards Traveling Exhibition at the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center at Huntley Meadows in Alexandria, VA. Visitors can enjoy a display of the stunning winning images (and videos) and learn more about local birdlife in Virginia.

In the 13th year of the contest, winning photos, videos and honorable mentions were selected from 2,416 entrants from all 50 states, Washington D.C. and 7 Canadian provinces and territories to appreciate the wonder of birds and the places they inhabit. The competition continued to award the Female Bird Prize and Video Prize, which were successfully introduced last year. The Female Bird Prize highlights female birds, which are often overlooked and underappreciated in bird photography and conservation. The Video Prize recognizes the dynamic movement and behavior of birds and the ways we view and memorialize them.

All images of the winners and honorable mentions can be found here, and information on the contest rules and judging can be found here.

2023 City Nature Challenge Brainstorming Event! March 9th

Logo: Courtesy of City Nature Challenge DC

Thursday, March 9, 2023
6:00 – 7:00 pm

Virtual meeting

Registration and additional information.

Fairfax Master Naturalists!
The 2023 City Nature Challenge will take place from April 28th to May 7th this year. Master Naturalists are invited to contribute their knowledge and engagement skills to engage as many people as possible with nature observation. If you’ve been thinking about how to make your own observations count, are considering leading a small group of resident observers, or supporting a local classroom, inspiring friends and neighbors to try out iNaturalist, or you’d like to use the City Nature Challenge to bring attention to biodiversity in your favorite park or neighborhood, then this meeting is for you! Join this meeting to brainstorm new activities and share past adventures, on Thursday, March 9th from 6:00 – 7:00 pm.

City Nature Challenge activities will qualify for service hours: C260 City Nature Challenge – Capital Nature


FMN Quarterly Chapter Meeting featuring a Presentation by Matt Bright, Executive Director of Earth Sangha, March 20th

Photo: Matt and Maeve, Provided by Matt Bright, Executive Director of Earth Sangha

Curious about the Fairfax Master Naturalist Program?

Our Quarterly Chapter meeting will be held on Monday, March 20, 2023 at 7 pm via Zoom. It will consist of a short business meeting followed by a presentation by Matt Bright, Executive Director of Earth Sangha. The title of his presentation is: The human footprint on our landscapes: What legacies of overexploitation teach us about our ability to restore and protect our natural areas. 

Please contact the Fairfax Master Naturalists at [email protected] for more information.

Matt will be speaking about the positive role we can have on the lands and waters around us.  He feels we need to rethink our current relationship to degraded natural areas from passive observers to hands-on stewards, and that the Northern Virginia region is a perfect place to begin making this transition since we’re so lucky on so many fronts: well-studied plant communities, a robust community of conservationists both professional and amateur, supportive parks systems, and access to plants and funding to make things happen, among other things.


Matt Bright serves as the Executive Director at the Earth Sangha where he has worked full-time since 2011 and where he grew up as the son of co-founders Lisa and Chris Bright. Matt enjoys teaching about native plants, how they grow in the wild, and how we can best protect them. He wrote and compiled the Earth Sangha’s Native Plant Compendium ( to help explain how native plants occur in the wild in Northern Virginia and how we can use that information to restore them, and teaches regularly for the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist chapter. The Earth Sangha is a local non-profit dedicated to native plant conservation and restoration both in the DC area and abroad. Our keystone project is our Wild Plant Nursery located at the Cloud Drive entrance to Franconia Park in Springfield where we host regular volunteer workdays that are open to everyone regardless of experience.

Record one CE hour under Continuing Education – FMN: Chapter Meeting Presentations.

Photo: Courtesy of Joan E. Strassmann

The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia presents Author Talk: Slow Birding with Joan E. Strassmann on March 7

Photo: Courtesy of Joan E. Strassmann

Tuesday, March 7, 2023
7:00 – 8:00 PM
Fee:$25 ($15 ASNV Members)

Click here for registration details.

Join this presentation for an engaging talk with author and evolutionary biologist, Joan E. Strassmann. Her book, Slow Birding: The Art and Science of Enjoying the Birds in Your Own Backyard, invites us to re-examine the birds closest to home. Professor Strassmann will share stories and facts about common birds and the scientists (professional and amateur alike) who study them. She will offer advice and guidance on what to look for when slow birding, so that you can uncover clues to the reasons behind specific bird behaviors. Participants will leave with concrete bird-focused activities to do at home to practice slow birding.

Learn more about her book in this recent article in the New York Times.

Joan Strassmann has been a slow birder all her life. She is an award-winning teacher of animal behavior, first at Rice University in Houston and then at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is Charles Rebstock professor of biology. She has written more than two hundred scientific articles on behavior, ecology, and evolution of social organisms. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has held a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives with her husband in St. Louis, Missouri.

Naturalist volunteer opportunities at Hidden Oaks!

Photo: Hidden Oaks, Fairfax County Park Authority
Share your love of nature at Hidden Oaks Nature Center!
Hidden Oaks has opportunities for program assistants this spring.  You’ll interact with kids and families doing hands-on activities, experiments, demonstrations and crafts.
As a program assistant, you work with a staff naturalist and enhance your interpretation skills.  One volunteer is needed for each of the below programs except as noted.  To volunteer, contact Kim Young or Kari Schilling, as indicated below:

Friday, March 17, 2023
4:30-5:30PM and 7:00-8:00 pm

St. Patrick’s Day Science:

(5-12 yrs.) Come and explore some green, leprechaun science that seems like magic. We will discover what those tricky leprechauns have up their sleeves, make green snow, green slime worms, and other exciting explorations- contact [email protected]

 Sunday, March 26, 2023
1:30-2:30 pm


(5-12 yrs.) Find out what’s cracking (or not) as we do various experiments with eggs and learn about their many amazing properties—contact [email protected]

Sunday, May 21,2023
12:15-3:45 pm

DinoFest in Nature Playce:

(3-9 yrs.) Learn and explore in dinoland! Compare your height and length to that of dinosaurs. Search for hidden dinosaurs and tracks. Make a fossil impression to take home. Canceled if rain. Child must be accompanied by an adult—contact [email protected]    2-3 volunteers welcome

But that’s not all! 
You can contact Hidden Oaks Volunteer Coordinator Janet Siddle, [email protected], to connect with other programs and projects that match your interests and availability.
There is an on-going need for volunteers to help lead Hidden Oaks’ many programs and camps.  In addition, there are openings for shifts at the Visitor Information Desk.  You would be talking to the public as they enter the building, directing them to their possible interests and answering their many questions.

Native Seedling Sale sponsored by the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD)

Orders for the 2023 Native Seedling Sale open on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 9:00am.
The order site will be linked from this page.

The seedling sale pickup will be Friday, March 31, 2023, from 9am-4pm and Saturday, April 1, 2023, from 9am-12pm at Sleepy Hollow Bath and Racquet Club, 3516 Sleepy Hollow Road, Falls Church VA 22044. Any seedlings not collected at pickup will be donated to a reforestation project in Fairfax County. Seedlings must be purchased in advance; no day of sales or extras will be offered.

NVSWCD’s understands this is an unusual time. Please contact NVSWCD prior to the seedling sale date should you require accommodations. NVSWCD looks forward to seeing you at the 2023 seedling sale!

Woodcock Watch Presented by The Clifton Institute, March 4th and 11th

Photo: Courtesy of The Clifton Institute, American Woodcock

Saturdays, March 4 or March 11, 2023
5:45 – 7:15 PM

Cost: $10 for general public, $5 for Friends of Clifton

The Clifton Institute

6712 Blantyre Road
Warrenton, Virginia 20187

Registration for the March 4th event.

Registration for the March 11th event.

The American Woodcock is one of the stealthiest birds, but it’s also one of the most fun to watch when they do show themselves. On early spring evenings, the males perform their mating displays, flying high into the air and falling back to the ground, making calls and sounds with their wings as they do so.

There will be a brief talk about these interesting birds, followed by a walk out into our fields where you will be able to watch and hear the birds perform.

For FMN CE credit use All Continuing Ed and select ‘Clifton Institute’ as the Approved Organization. Please make a note in the description that it is for the Woodcock Watch.