Thirteen kids joined BRDC at Matthews State Forest Pavilion for Discovery Day Camp.
Imagine for a moment, if a friend of yours traveled 2,500 miles by his own power with just the clothes on his back, across mountains, seas, rivers, through storms, dodging danger day in and day out, just to come to your doorstep. What kind of reception would you give him when he arrived after such a journey?
6 kids went on a gravity-defying adventure in the high country participating in BRDC’s inaugural Ornithology Camp. For four days and three nights, the kids camped out and honed their ornithology skills, searching for bird species that inhabit the diverse appalachian ecosystems of southwest Virginia.
For BRDCs Give Me Shelter course, students built and installed nest and roosting boxes for owls, bats, ducks and bluebirds. They learned about nesting strategies, comparing the enormous variety of bird and bat nests, and the importance of incorporating features preferred by the particular bird species, including the entrance hole size, the height at which the box is posted, and the type of habitat surrounding the box.
Every trip outdoors holds an opportunity for discovery, but a trip down the New River always seems to be teeming with wildlife. On this particular trip, Ellie and Roald discovered a successful nesting pair of Bald Eagles! This is a landmark discovery many of us have been looking forward to for years.
The golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a challenged species on at least two levels. Its preferred habitat of wet, brushy, early successional open areas with available perching trees is disappearing, which has contributed to the decline of this species, placing it in the ‘species of concern’ category by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Avian spring migrants come in two categories: Northbound birds and elevation transients or lateral migrators. The second group mostly consists of our high elevation breeders, such as dark-eyed juncos, that drop off the mountain tops for a few winter months in search of easier food, water and in some cases, shelter. Most of us, however, think of the distance travelers, when we talk about spring migration.
These annual counts provide a great excuse to get out with friends and freeze. This year was gentler, with much warmer temps and less wind than usual. But the warmer weather seemed to negatively affect the bird numbers and species diversity. I am guessing, but some of my theories are: less need for the birds to form foraging flocks and less elevational migratory movement, both behaviors due to a wider abundance of food and water sources. Regardless, I had a great time on two counts…the New River and the Mount Rogers.
Mahogany Rock Hawk Watch with Galax HS Biology Students. On September 24th, BRDC hosted this year’s final Avian Adventures program at Mahogany Rock Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Teachers Emily Brown and Sam Starkey brought 12 kids for a day of hawk observations and discussions on migration.BRDC guides William Roberts and Scott Jackson-Ricketts began the program with a focus on a map, compass and questions about migratory patterns and the dynamics of energy saving flight techniques.