Bird Walks-Audubon Society of Northern Virginia

Photo:  J. Quinn

Bird walks are back! Audubon Society of Northern Virginia follows the Center for Disease Control’s COVID-19 guidelines: in brief, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. Unvaccinated people are required to wear a face mask covering nose and mouth and physically distancing from others. As always, anyone experiencing symptoms of illness should not attend.

Walks currently require registration and may limit attendees to a number that the walk leader feels they can guide effectively. The leader may elect not to allow any participant to use the leader’s scope and may discontinue participation if they are not comfortable with the precautions.

They strive to make their walks and other events inclusive. Please refer to the Birdability map for general information on the accessibility of parks and trails in our area for those with disabilities.

Recurring Bird Walks schedule.

Skulls and Skeletons, January 15th

Lewinsville House
1659 Chain Bridge Rd, McLean, VA
Saturday, January 15, 2022
10 – 11am
$10 per person
Register here.

Ever wonder what skull or bone you saw while walking in the forest? This Fairfax County Park Authority class will teach you about the skulls and skeletons of local animals using materials found in Fairfax County parks. You will learn to identify skulls, see a variety of bones and learn how similar four-legged mammals really are on the inside.

If you have a bone or pictures you want identified bring them with you and they can try to figure out what it goes to. There will also be a chance to see some non-mammal representatives.

First Day Hikes at Mason Neck State Park

Photo courtesy of Friends of Mason Neck State Park

7301 High Point Rd.
Lorton VA
Saturday, January 1, 2022
9:30 am, Noon, or 2:30 pm

Start the New Year off right with an invigorating hike at Mason Neck State Park. The Park’s rangers will lead hikes for adults and children throughout the day. You can join them for a 2-mile round-trip walk to see the Tundra Swans at 9:30, noon or 2:30.

The Tundra Swan hikes leave from the parking lot for the Woodmarsh Trail at the Elizabeth Hartwell Wildlife Refuge, about a quarter mile before you reach the Contact Station. The Friends of Mason Neck State Park will provide hot beverages at the start of the hikes. There will be telescopes at the shelter overlooking the marsh so you can get a better look at these magnificent birds, which spend the winter here after their long migration from far northern Canada and Alaska. Parking is limited at the Woodmarsh Trail, so you’ll need to register for the hikes by calling the park staff at 703-339-2380 or emailing them at

Admission to the Park is free on January 1, and there is no charge for these hikes.

Winter Wildlife Festival, January 2022

The annual Winter Wildlife Festival in Virginia Beach is going to have both virtual and in-person events in January 2022. This event is put on by the City of Virginia Beach and several other partners, including the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Check out the full schedule and additional information online. Registrations are open now!

View virtual workshops and events, including the Festival Keynote: “The Bird Way” with Jennifer Ackerman.

View in person Trips and Excursions.




Friends of Mason Neck Wintering Waterfowl Program, December 5th

Photo:  Barbara J. Saffir

Gunston Hall’s Ann Mason Room
10709 Gunston Rd., Lorton
Saturday, December 5, 2021
2 pm buffet; 3 pm program
$15 per person for members; $20 nonmembers
Register here.

You’ll hear a presentation on Wintering Waterfowl of the Potomac River.  A wide diversity of geese, ducks and other waterbirds spend the winter in Northern Virginia. Mason Neck, including both the state park and the wildlife refuge, play an important part in sustaining them through the winter.  You’ll learn about the lives of the birds, citizen science studies and the conservation needs for birds and people along the river.

The presenter is Greg Butcher, the Migratory Species Coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service International Programs. He is a PhD. ornithologist who has worked for the National Audubon Society, American Birding Association, Partners in Flight, Birders World Magazine and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He is also Vice President of Audubon Society of Northern Virginia. Greg is a recognized public speaker and interpreter for bird conservation and ecology worldwide.

They are taking special precautions this year because of the pandemic. The Ann Mason Room can hold 125 guests, but they’re limiting attendance to just 75 people so there is ample room for everyone to spread out. They’re also asking everyone to wear a mask except when actively eating or drinking. They’ll have hand sanitizer at numerous places around the room, and you’ll be able to choose from a variety of pre-plated, delicious offerings from the buffet.

If you aren’t a member or your membership has lapsed, you can join the Friends here.

Virtual Workshop for the Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count

Photo: Photo: Black-capped Chickadee, Megan Lavoie/Audubon Photography Awards

When: Thursday, December 16, 2021
7:00 – 8:30PM
Fee: FREE!

For Information and Registration click here.

This event is FREE, but registration is required.

Join Phil Silas, the Manassas-Bull Run Christmas Bird Count compiler, and members from the Conservation Committee to learn about this long-running citizen science bird survey. They will review protocol to ensure that participants understand the ASNV pandemic restrictions. After the presentation, they will test participants identification skills with a Kahoot!

Author Event: Ivory-billed Woodpecker as Trickster with Dr. Chris Haney, Webinar December 9th

Book cover, courtesy of Dr. Chris Haney

Where: Virtual!
When: Thursday, December 9, 2021
Registration Fees: Member ticket: $10, Non-member ticket: $15

Pre-order your copy of Dr. Haney’s new book, Woody’s Last Laugh here.

For Registration information click here.

Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia in welcoming their good friend, Dr. Chris Haney. They will explore a simmering paradox that has baffled birders, scientists, conservationists, and the media for more than 100 years: repeated claims for the supposed “extinction” of the American Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Interacting with listeners, he will illustrate cognitive blunders, psychological biases, and logical fallacies that have long duped both sides of the woodpecker controversy. Few bird species have ever provoked such social rancor among us. Why are rumors of the woodpecker’s persistence so prevalent, unlike other near or recently extinct animals? Why are we so bad-mannered with each other about a bird? How is it that we cannot agree even on whether a mere bird is alive or dead? Ivory-billed Woodpecker as Trickster uncovers how uncertainty about our natural world can so mess with our heads. Regardless of what (or who) you choose to believe, new ways of thinking about this striking avian icon will be opened to everyone, not just birders…


Virtual Fireside Chat with Dr. Tom Wood: Celebrate Swans, December 2nd

Photo: Tundra Swans, Wink Gaines/GBBC

Where: Free Online event
When: Thursday, December 2, 2021
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM

For Registration and additional information click here.

Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for a celebration of the return of the swans! This chat will be swan-themed and inspire participants to visit the wintering tundra swans as they majestically return with fanfare from the great north. Think all things swan, swan songs, photo haikus and poetry, prose and art. Dr. Wood will have swan stories to tell. Bring your best stories, artistic creations, and discoveries to share! This is a great chance to keep up with your photo haikus.

Field Trip to the Lorton Landfill, November 20th

Photo: ASNV

Saturday, November 20, 2021
8 am
Fairfax County Recycling and Disposal Center
9850 Furnace Rd., Lorton VA
This walk is FREE, but registration is required.

Why go birdwatching at a landfill? To see multiple kestrels, harriers, Bald Eagles, meadowlarks, sparrows (maybe some rare ones, if we’re lucky). The I95 landfill is mostly closed, so we can safely drive around and experience open grassland birds and also visit small ponds and forest edges. 134 species have been recorded here, including 58 on a single day in late October. It’s one of those places where you’re never quite sure what you’ll see.

Join Audubon Society of Northern Virginia at 8 AM on Saturday November 20 at the Administration Building by following Google Map directions to Fairfax County Recycling and Disposal Center, 9850 Furnace Road, Lorton VA. As you drive in past the weigh station (stay to the left so you don’t get weighed), the administration building is the first building on the right. Contact Greg Butcher or see the registration link for more information.

Meet Your Wildest Neighbors: Raptors of Virginia, Maryland and DC, December 7th

Photo: Stacey Remick-Simkins

Rust Library
380 Old Waterford Rd NW, Leesburg, VA
Tuesday, December 7, 2021
7 pm

It is thrilling to watch a Red-tailed Hawk soar beneath a bright blue sky or hear a Barred Owl call on a cold, clear night. Have you ever wondered where they live, what they eat, or how they raise their young? You are invited into the secret lives of these magnificent birds of prey. The personal stories of the live hawks, owls, and falcons who will be present will help you identify our native species, understand their valuable contribution to a healthy environment, and learn what we can do to provide for their welfare in the face of climate change and an increasingly human world—with good news, bad news, and a few surprises along the way. This program by certified raptor rehabilitator Liz Dennison is being jointly sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Loudoun County Public Library. Questions: Contact Joe Coleman at 540-554-2542 or