Tree Ceremony Adds Native Seedlings in Lorton

Photos by Susan Laume

Article by FMN Susan Laume, published in The Connection newspapers, reprinted with permission

The Laurel Hill Park Volunteer Team planted southern red oak seedlings (Quercus falcate) on Oct. 30 as part of the Celebration of Trees campaign organized by Plant NoVA Natives. The event, one of many planned across the area this Fall, is part of a five-year campaign to preserve native trees and see more planted in Northern Virginia.

The planting at the historic Barrett House replaced three mature oaks lost last year after a period of several year’s decline. The seedlings will grow to medium sized trees, providing shade, with a large root system for watershed protection, and with a beautiful red leaf color in late summer and the Fall, from which the trees get their name. All oak species provide high food value and shelter for wildlife, including insects, mammals, rodents, birds and deer. This particular oak is the larva host for the Banded hairstreak and White hairstreak butterflies.

Fairfax Releaf’s Taylor Beach demonstrates correct tree planting for best success

In coordination with Fairfax County’s Natural Resources Branch of the Park Authority, additional seedlings were planted in the park’s reforestation area. The reforestation project, under the management of ecologist Darko Veljkovic, will include the planting of hundreds of native trees of various species this December, to reclaim forest habitat from invasive shrubs and vines. The Laurel Hill Park Volunteer Team’s planting of six southern red oak seedlings was the symbolic start of that reforestation effort.

Fairfax Releaf, an independent non-profit organization promoting the planting and preservation of native trees, provided the seedlings for the Laurel Hill planting. The organization makes trees available to Virginia residents and businesses to “lessen the impact of development on the environment” in our fast growing county. (fairfaxreleaf.com) A variety of tree species are available, most of which are grown at the Virginia Dept. of Forestry nursery in Augusta County. The state’s nursery grows hardwood and pine trees from donated acorns and seeds gathered by volunteers around the state. The Laurel Hill volunteer team effort brought the process full circle, from acorn donation to tree planting.

Elly Doyle Volunteer Awards 2021

Each year the Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) celebrates outstanding efforts of volunteerism at the Elly Doyle Awards Ceremony. As the announcement states, “there are thousands of individuals and many organizations that volunteer each year in local parks and support the many programs and initiatives of the Fairfax County Park Authority. In fact, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to operate our park system without you, our valued volunteers”.

This year FPCA will be hosting a virtual ceremony. The 2021 award recipients will be honored on November 19, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Please RSVP to receive the direct link to the ceremony. 

Two of the 2021 recipients are FMN Bob Dinse and the at large group Friends of Accotink Creek. Membership in the Friends group is many, including in part FMNs Ashley Zywusko, Kathryn Pasternak, Kim Schauer, Ana Ka’ahanui, Elaine Sevy, Janet Quinn, Beverley Rivera, Wendy Cohen, Sarah Glassco, and Dianne Bowen. The contrasting qualities of these awards should not be lost. One recognizes the efforts of an individual, the other the combined efforts of a group. Both, however, recognize how each made lasting positive impacts to their community and to the environment. At the end of the day, getting out there and getting involved, no matter how you are able to do it, is the difference maker.

Bob Dinse will be awarded the Sally Ormsby Environmental Stewardship Award for his continued contributions at Hidden Oaks Nature Center (HONC). According to the HONC nomination, Bob exemplifies an environmental steward by his actions and advocacy with his 12 years of at Hidden Oaks. Bob demonstrates the responsible use and protection of natural resources through his conservation efforts. In addition to routine upkeep of existing trails, Bob alleviated erosion and stream bank deterioration, created and enhanced gardens, donated hundreds of dollars of native ferns, native plants, nuts, and birdseed and, in doing so, effectively serves as a FCPA ambassador. 

Bob Dinse at HONC – photo Jerry Nissley

Bob is a consummate environmental steward – he leads by example. As he wears the park logo on his hat and shirt, he quietly, effectively, and earnestly shares the message that each person can make a positive difference in his community. The specifics of Bob’s contributions are numerous. When I asked Bob for one project that might stick out for him he replied, “I would like to thank Suzanne Holland and Michael McDonnell [both are HONC management] for letting me work at HONC for the past 12 years. There have been past workers and staff as well current ones I have enjoyed working with. I hope I have a few more years being at HONC.” To me that exemplifies the humility of a man with a servant’s heart.

The Friends of Accotink Creek will be awarded the Elly Doyle Park Service Award. Anyone that reads the FMN newsletter or monitors FMN social media is aware of the tireless efforts and continued positive impact this group makes to Accotink Creek watershed system and surrounding environs.

FACC Members after planning walk – Photo courtesy of FACC

With regards to the criteria for this 2021 Service Award, the group has removed invasive plants, planted dozens of native trees, organized community activities with scout, school and faith groups, provided advocacy for environmental issues, and organized several stream clean ups to list but a few projects.

For example, at this year’s Spring Clean Up, more than 280 Friends of Accotink Creek (FACC) volunteers picked up 255 bags of trash, tires, and assorted flotsam at 12 different locations between Chain Bridge and Telegraph Road. Remember that Accotink Creek watershed is a major tributary to the Potomac River via Accotink Bay/Gunston Bay on the north side of Mason Neck Peninsula. As the creek flows, that’s 30+ miles of cleaner water thanks to the efforts of FACC.

Stream Monitoring – Photo Courtesy of FACC

FACC members also maintain three different Invasive Management Sites where native tree seedlings are protected from deer browse to give them an increased chance of successful growth. The sites also monitor the health of the creek system and report pollutants, such as oil spills, to the appropriate authorities. 

They advocate for sensitive areas such as the Accotink Gorge, which has rare native plants but is also heavily overrun with invasive Wisteria. Education within the community promotes awareness of issues that can affect the health and recreational aspects of the community. To that end, the group participated in the Mount Vernon Environmental Expo, handing out native sedges for planting, along with posters, booklets, and invasive species playing cards for educational purposes; and for the first time FACC contributed a table at the Latino Conservation Day. 

Accotink Stream Gorge – Photo Courtesy of FACC

For more than ten years volunteers have had workdays every week, occasionally more if a school or scout group has a particular request. The nomination for this award included a quote by Doug Tallamy, “Plant an oak, plant the future”. There is still hard word to be done but it is clear that FACC is both literally and figuratively working diligently to ‘plant the future’, which exemplifies the basic tenant of the VMN program itself, “to provide a statewide corps of volunteers dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources in their communities”.

Well done to all – and congratulations on the well earned awards.

Click to find out more about helping Accotink Gorge  https://www.accotink.org/2015/AccotinkGorge2015.htm

Click to find out more about Cinder Bed Road Bikeway – 

https://www.accotink.org/2021/CinderBedRoadBikeway2021.htm

Click to access HONC website:

https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/hidden-oaks

Fairfax Master Naturalists Tour State of the Art Sewer Plant

Photo: Melissa Atwood

Article by FMN Mike Walker

A group of Fairfax Master Naturalists had a unique opportunity to visit the Noman M. Cole, Jr., Pollution Control Plant, located on Route 1 in southern Fairfax County recently.  The visit, organized by chapter president Marilyn Parks, was actually a continuing education “field trip” incident to the state-wide “on-line” annual meeting of Virginia Master Naturalists Chapters.

The Cole facility, located on 400 acres,  serves about 40 percent of Fairfax County and is among a handful of water or sewage treatment plants in  the United States operating at “state of the art” efficiency. With advanced wastewater treatment systems, the facility is able to remove or “digest” water pollutants, nutrients and contaminants at an exceptionally high level, earning recognition as being in the top tier of the 16,000 publicly owned treatment facilities in the United States, an important achievement for Fairfax County and our local rivers and the  Chesapeake Bay.  About 75% of sanitary  wastewater is treated by similar facilities. The remaining 25 % of waste winds up in private septic tanks.

Photo: Marilyn Parks; climbing to the MBBR site

The facility, which celebrated its 50 year anniversary in 2020, uses a four-stage process to treat south Fairfax County’s wastewater: primary, secondary, advanced treatment and final treatment. After the secondary phase, the effluent moves to three five-million gallon holding ponds. Wildlife thrives in these ponds and 89% of treatment facilities in our country stop their treatment here. The Cole facility, however, goes two stages beyond, which includes using Moving Bed Biologic Reactors (MBBR). This microbiologic process uses tiny, pasta-shaped plastic pieces on which to grow algae to feed “good “microbes that convert nitrates to nitrogen gas. (Nitrogen is the primary gas in our atmosphere.) By the time the effluent is released to Pohick Creek, it is cleaner than the water in the creek.

We were privileged that Cole’s superintendent Mike McGrath took time to personally escort our group on much of the tour, with operations manager Joshua and Melissa showing us the entire physical set up from the bar screen to the water sampling laboratory.

Sewage and sewage treatment is often a subject many choose not to think about: what is out of sight is out of mind. But the men and women of Fairfax County who work daily to run this amazing operation, from the 3,000 miles of collection sewers to the solid waste that is removed from the bar screen – including false plastic fingernails – this is a highly sophisticated, automated operation, that is a real success story that Fairfax residents can be proud of.

Nonpoint Source Pollution & Labeling Stormwater Drains, a Gold Award Project

Article by FMN & Gold Award Girl Scout Mackenzie Nordai
Photos courtesy of Mackenzie Nordai

My Gold Award* aimed to address the issue of nonpoint source pollution’s effect on Pohick Creek Watershed which includes Hidden Pond Park in Springfield, Virginia. As the leader of the project, I led groups of volunteers through three communities adjacent to this watershed and labeled stormwater drains to alert people about where these drains lead. I also communicated awareness to the communities around Hidden Pond through a community newsletter, Fairfax Master Naturalist social media, and postings on bulletin boards at Hidden Pond Nature Center about the negative effects that nonpoint source pollution has on the environment. Nonpoint source pollution has the largest impact on our water quality, because it comes from many sources like our suburban neighborhoods. Some examples include fertilizers, pesticides, dog waste, car soap, oil, grease, antifreeze, paints, sediment, and excess salt from salting the roads. When it rains, the runoff from our neighborhoods enter our stormwater drains dispersing different pollutants into our ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers leading to the Chesapeake Bay and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean, which can hurt the ecosystem and marine life.

Did you know that a single six pack plastic ring can last 400 years before it finally can decompose? And paints, oils, and grease can pollute the waters through dissipation. These pollutants along with various others can impact different wildlife through suffocation and by changing the environment’s carrying capacity to a level that the wildlife can no longer sustain. Amphibians, for example, have thinner skin than most animals and are affected by water and air pollutants, so imagine what a drop of oil or grease is going to do to a whole population of organisms.

I selected my issue, because I care about the environment, plan to pursue a related field in college, and have already begun educating others on this topic during my coursework to become a certified Fairfax Master Naturalist. While doing so I was inspired to spread the knowledge about how to prevent nonpoint source pollution and the impacts that it has on our watersheds. As I delved into research, I felt a passion in understanding the impacts of pollution and I felt driven about educating others on what society can do to help prevent it.

In conclusion, there are ways that we all can help our environment by preventing nonpoint source pollution. First, you can contact the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District (NVSWCD) and label the stormwater drains in your neighborhood to increase awareness. Next, you could work on establishing native plants in your landscaping and minimize fertilizers and pesticides, or by purchasing household detergents and cleaners that are low in phosphorus. Also, you can dispose of used oil, antifreeze, paints and other household chemicals properly. Lastly, you can properly dispose of dog waste and litter. All of these actions help to protect the environment and our local watershed.

* The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Senior or Ambassador can earn. A Gold Award Take Action Project has national and/or global links, is sustainable, takes approximately 80 hours and addresses an issue the Girl Scout cares about.

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

Hidden Oaks Nature Center – Their Animals Hit the Trail

All photos by Jerry Nissley

By volunteering at or simply visiting the many Fairfax County Parks we have all noticed how each park fills a niche. Each park has unique attractions and exemplary qualities that delight visitors and Hidden Oaks just extended theirs.

Suzanne Holland and Bob Dinse with Wildlife Tree Sculpture

Hidden Oaks Nature Center is nestled inside the 52-acre Annandale District Park. You’ll find live animal displays, exhibits, a pond, creeks, woodland trails, gardens, play areas, a rain garden and a resource library. In 2019 artisan Andrew Mallon was commissioned to carve a wildlife tree sculpture utilizing the 10’ high tree stump left after a poplar tree was struck by lightning right outside of the Nature Center. The fabulous carvings creatively depict 11 animals native to the park. Now in 2021 to complement the tree sculpture and enhance the learning experience, the park distributed replica cutouts of those 11 animals along the Old Oaks nature trail in habitat areas appropriate for each animal.

Suzanne Holland, the Visitor Services Manager at Hidden Oaks, explained that finalizing this project took awhile due to the pandemic. “I had the signs created by last fall (2020) but we kept adding components and, since we did not have a deadline looming, I waited until everyone was able to participate who wanted to do so. I had the wonderful assistance of three FMN. Toni Oliveira designed the correlative trail brochure. Susan Martel assisted with brochure copy and where to place the cut out signs and Bob Dinse attached the signs along the trail.”

Fox Marker – potential den under fallen tree in background

Suzanne said, “The purpose of this activity was to extend the learning opportunities based on the 2019 woodland wildlife tree sculpture. I wanted to have the representations of the 11 animals, created by Northern Virginia Woodcarvers, to be posted along our Old Oak Trail in about the area that the real animal would live. The brochure provides habitat information for each of the native species. Additionally we have a QR code on each sign so that visitors can scan the code to see a 30 second video about the animal and its habitat needs.” She graciously added, “Hidden Oaks is fortunate to have so many stellar FMN volunteers and this project is only one of many they have contributed to.”

Racoon Marker – hollow tree den

Susan Martel who helps with crafts and enrichment projects had a lot of fun with this one.  She commented, “I researched and wrote the content for the brochure, which was also used for the narratives that accompany the videos shown in conjunction with the QR codes.  I thought HONC’s idea of using the Woodland Wildlife Sculpture as a launching point for the interpretive trail was a great way to teach visitors about where the different animals can be found in the park/nature and why the habitat suits them.”

Bob Dinse, who is a trail monitor and interpreter at Hidden Oaks explained, “Since I take care of the trails at Hidden Oaks Suzanne asked me to fasten the cut out animals to a trail marker post or dead tree. So as not to deface the cut outs I cut slats of wood a little bigger than the cut outs and used a water proof glue to fasten the slats to the cut outs. Suzanne and I walked the Old Oak Trail to decide where I would put up the cut outs. I have been at Hidden Oaks almost 12 years and am proud to be part of the team led by Suzanne Holland and Michael McDonnel that keep adults and children coming to the park.”

Turtle Marker – semi open wooded area

The creativity, willingness to serve, and high energy of the Hidden Oaks park staff and cadre of volunteers, many of which are FMN, truly establish this as a park worth visiting and supporting. So bring the kids or just yourself but come on out to Hidden Oaks. Tour the visitor’s center (see website for hours), checkout the 10 foot high wildlife sculpture, explore Old Oaks Trail, and find the individual critters along the way. It’s a success story worth experiencing.

WJLA TV interview with Suzanne Holland:

https://wjla.com/news/local/kidd-around-town-hidden-oaks-nature-center

Volunteerism Blooms at Laurel Hill Park

Photos: Susan Laume

By FMN Susan Laume

A Virginia Master Naturalist led effort, supported by over two dozen amateur gardeners, literally bloomed to fruition this spring in Laurel Hill Park in Lorton. Many of the volunteers had done no gardening of any kind before, and had no knowledge about native versus non-native plant species. However, willing hands and sustained effort over several months turned one weed-choked, and one barren parking lot island into two native plant gardens, welcoming to pollinators and park users, mirroring only the native wildflowers and grasses found throughout the park.

Native wildflowers in spring bloom with a non-native volunteer Purpletop Vervain

This is a story about one of many collaborative efforts between Master Naturalists and our friends in the Fairfax County Park Authority. Under the auspices of the Laurel Hill Park Volunteer Team (PVT) founded by the author, the park area maintenance manager designated the garden development areas.  He also provided limited start up assistance by way of dumping wood mulch, and amending mowing contracts to protect the garden areas. The Park Authority assisted with advertising for members through the county volunteer opportunities system.  The first garden involved merely managing the volunteer plants which populated the space.  For the second garden, the County also authorized limited funding for starter plant purchases through the native plant nursery, “Earth Sangha”.  Garden design, bed preparation, mulch spreading, planting, establishment watering, weeding, and subsequent plantings for both garden locations were all accomplished by a changing set of citizen volunteers. 

Blue Spider Wasp garden visitor

With the first garden started in May 2020, and the second in September 2020, progress in both was slowed by Covid -19 park restrictions.  Spring 2021 was the first opportunity to see real results of the efforts in terms of blooms and visiting pollinators.  While the full beauty of the gardens is yet to blossom, the gardens already have accomplished much. Dozens of people have worked there and now know about native plants and their importance to our environment. Many more have visited the garden and asked about its purpose and plants. Dragonflies, bees, beetles, wasps, bugs, and birds visit regularly, enjoying the diversity of plants created by management of the space. Small mammals and snakes move and hide within the grasses and green, drawn by the food now found there. In coming seasons, as the gardens fill with more plants, both planted and seed volunteers, they will continue to achieve their goal — welcoming and educating people about the beauty and wonder of native plants.

One antidote to a pandemic: Training to be a master naturalist

Photo: Ron Grimes

By Julie Shaw, Spring 2021 Graduate

The Fairfax Chapter Master Naturalist training program saved me from the grim claustrophobia brought on by the pandemic in the winter and spring of 2021.

While avoiding the news in December 2020, I came across a notice about the training in the Fairfax Master Naturalist Newsletter and I jumped at the chance to apply. So did a lot of other people: The spring 2021 training had more than 50 applicants for 20 slots.

I was lucky to make the cut, and it was just what the doctor ordered. I work—now from home—at a day job in communications for an environmental organization, but that job mostly takes place behind a computer. I do not frequently get the kind of connection with nature, or with people, that I find most meaningful. And with degrees in English literature and journalism, I have a lot to learn about nature and how to help it.

Our trainee cohort came from diverse backgrounds. Some studied or have degrees in nature-related fields. Some have served in the military or government. Our group also included young people just starting out in their careers (one is a high school student), parents planning to spend treasured free time to educate their children and others about nature, and retirees eager to use their energy and experience to support local ecosystems and wildlife. The class also incorporated participants from the spring 2020 Master Naturalist training who were completing a pandemic-interrupted education.

For the volunteers who organize the training, the switch from in-person to online meetings brought some minor difficulties — from just getting people into the Zoom session to getting presentations to display correctly. But the sessions were relatively smooth since many people have become accustomed to Zoom.

Members of our class did miss out on some of the bonding that in-person training sessions can facilitate and, perhaps more importantly, the associated snack-time tradition. But we were fantastically fortunate when it came to weather for our field trips (although several of us used our cars as warming shelters during the surprisingly cold May 1 visit to Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge and State Park). And we benefited greatly from the efforts of an impressive team of volunteers and presenters who delivered a well-oiled and engaging program.

Reviews from my fellow trainees for the program have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. And while our experience has been colored by the pandemic, what we’re taking away from the training will likely have a much more enduring and positive impact on our lives.

NOTE: More helpers are always needed for the training program. Contact Lori Scheibe at lscheibe@cox.net to volunteer.

Fairfax Master Naturalists Talk Pollinators and Citizen Science at June Environmental Expo

Photo: Marilyn Schroeder

By Mike Walker

FMN members hosted a booth at the first “post pandemic” Outreach Event in 2021. This was the Mount Vernon-National Park Service Environmental Expo at Fort Hunt Park on June 26. Marilyn Schroeder and Mike Walker set up and staffed the booth, with Master Naturalist and Bat Expert Deborah Hammer offering training and use tips for the iNaturalist system. Many of our local partner organizations were present at the Expo, including Friends of Huntley Meadows and Mason Neck as well as various Fairfax County government organizations, such as the Green Breakfast folks from the Soil and Water Conservation department. Chapter sponsor Jim McGlone, representing the forestry department, was also there promoting proper tree planting.

Two important takeaways for me: first, next to our booth was an entomologist with the National Park Service. He explained that staff from the Department and local universities have discovered and documented five new, previously undiscovered species of insects found on parkland. Field investigations have been taking place in Dyke Marsh, Turkey Run Park and Great Falls-Riverbend parks. Second, on display and available for inspection were about a dozen all electric automobiles and a Fairfax County Public Schools electric school bus. What had been wishful thinking on a new age of automobiles now appears to be becoming mainstream and even affordable. One owner of a Chevrolet Volt told me he has owned his electric car for 10 years and has never returned to the dealer or had any repairs other than new tires and wiper blades. Lots of interesting information.

Keep your eyes open for our booth at the next public environmental event. Stop by, ask questions, or just visit!

FMN CE Hike: Bluebird Box Monitoring — Awesome!

BB nest feature photo by Barbara J. Saffir

Have you ever wondered what’s inside those white boxes on poles standing in open fields? They are Bluebird boxes paid for and erected by Bluebird Societies to provide habitat for Bluebirds, native cavity nesters. Trained personnel regularly monitor the boxes to record data for scientific research. A Fairfax Master Naturalist group recently explored the inside of 12 of them with Larry Meade, Northern Virginia Bird Club President and volunteer with the Virginia Bluebird Society. I was reminded of the carol The 12 Days of Christmas as Larry carefully opened each “gift” for a peek inside.

Organized by FMN Barbara Saffir, we met at Clark’s Crossing in Vienna on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Larry tapped the side of each box first to warn the parent bird of our approach. Their departure from the box was our first clue to which species was inside. The boxes are intended for use by Eastern Bluebirds but the conservation groups don’t mind if they are used by Tree Swallows (TS), Chickadees and other native cavity nesters. Nesting by other species, such as the non-native House Sparrow, is prevented by removing nesting material before it is completed. The opening is too small to allow entry by European Starlings.

Larry then unscrewed the side of the box, lowered it and we’d look inside. What follows is the day’s official report, enhanced by Larry’s astute birding observations and comedic interludes:

TS nest by Julie Ables

Nest 1 – TS nest – 5 eggs
Tidbit: Tree Swallows use feathers to “feather their nests.”

Nest 2 – BB nest – 3 eggs
Tidbits: Bluebirds use pine needles to make their nests. Larry was logging eBird sightings and “birding by ear.” He wryly noted “butterflying by ear” doesn’t work.

Nest 3 – TS nest – 4 babies ready to go
Tidbit: We viewed quickly so parents could return and resume feeding these voracious eaters.

Nest 4 – BB nest – 3 babies
Tidbit: Larry used a mirror so we could see the babies tucked deep in the nest. This is the second brood in this box for the Bluebird pair.

Nest 5 – TS – 4 babies

Nest 6 – TS nest – 5 eggs
Tidbit: Parent was agitated and circling us. We moved on quickly.

Nest 7 – TS nest -4 big babies
Tidbit: Box monitors remove a nest after the babies have fledged so parents can build a new one. Turkey Vultures are known as TVs. What is a pair called? A TV set.

Nest 8 – TS nest – 5 babies

Carolina Chickadees by Marilyn Parks

Nest 9 – Chic nest – 3 Babies
Tidbit:  Carolina Chickadees! Parents use moss to make the nest. Chickadees are native species and left alone.

Nest 10 – empty
Tidbit: In nearby trees we see a juvenile Orchard Oriole! Larry notes that seeing a new bird is like seeing a movie star.  So true!

Nest 11 – TS nest – 3 babies
Tidbit: We discover a nearby mulberry tree and taste some of the berries. No wonder birds love them!

Mulberry photo by Barbara J. Saffir

Nest 13 – BB nest – 5 eggs
Tidbit: The nest is about 3 times as high as the other BB nests we’ve seen.

If you are interested in volunteering to monitor bluebird boxes, contact the Virginia Bluebird Society. Monitoring season runs from the end of April to early August each year. The excitement and joy of opening the boxes will enhance your contributions to citizen science!