New River Valley Bird Club to Host 2019 VSO Annual Meeting

The New River Valley Bird Club is excited to invite you to the 2019 annual meeting, May 3-5, 2019, at Mountain Lake, Virginia. Mountain Lake has been recognized for many years as a unique ecosystem for birds. With the Mountain Lake Conservancy, an adjacent wilderness area and the Mountain Biological Station nearby, birds have a protected mountain top refuge. With elevations reaching 4,200 feet, there are breeding species of birds not found in nearby Blacksburg, Virginia. Our host will be the Mountain Lake Lodge, formerly Mountain Lake Hotel. The hotel has been under new management for 5 years, and if you have not visited the hotel recently you will be amazed at the improvements. It was voted the 2018 Virginia Hotel of the Year and the manager Heidi Stone was voted the 2018 Best Hotelier in Virginia.  Check out their website

Mountain Lake Lodge Logo.jpg

What Makes Mountain Lake special?
Because of the elevation, the cooler temperatures nurture plant communities which are much like those of Northern Pennsylvania and Southern New York. As a result, several unique breeding species are found here. These include Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Least Flycatcher, Veery, Brown Creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a breeding population of Dark-eyed Junco which has been studied for over 30 years, and many species of warblers. There are many other species of migrants and breeding birds on the mountain and surrounding areas. Birding for this weekend should be excellent, because of the elevation, the migrants will be passing through, but most of the leaves will not have emerged. Our field trips will include areas on top of the mountain as well as trips in surrounding areas including Glen Alton which is one of the most interesting birding areas around. Some of the trips will require hiking and there will also be trails for easy walking. We have an excellent group of experienced field trip leaders. A complete description of field trips will also be in the registration packet and guests can sign up for field trips when they arrive at the hotel. Weather permitting there will be a rafting trip on the New River for Saturday morning for anyone who might be interested.  

Lodging Package

Mountain Lake Lodge is now a travel destination and we have worked closely with the lodge to provide an excellent package rate for you. Lodging and package price includes two nights lodging, two breakfasts and the Saturday Buffet Banquet.  
Single Rate                               $414.00 + Tax
Double rate per person   $255.00  +Tax
Triple rate per person      $202.00  + Tax
Lunch is available at the hotel in either the Harvest Restaurant or the Stony Creek Tavern (ala carte).
Guests arriving on Thursday night or staying additional nights through Tuesday night are eligible to receive a discounted lodging rate per room of $139 + tax per night. Meals are ala carte.                                         
Make your lodging reservations by April 10th to ensure that you receive the VSO package rate.
Mountain Lake Lodge directly by telephone (800-346-3334 or 540-626-7121) to make hotel reservations. Be sure to mention the name VSO Conference.

Field Trips

For early morning arrivals, the Hotel has a map of the Mountain Lake Lodge trails, which are easily accessible from the hotel. One arduous trip is the walk up to Bald Knob (4.200 feet). The view is spectacular for sunrise and sunset. 

Field trip sign-up sheets will be available at check-in. More details about field trips will be posted and club members will be on hand to answer any questions about field trips. Additional field trips may be added, as needed, depending on attendance. Field trips may be changed depending on weather factors. You are welcome to walk any of the trails on the Mountain Lake Lodge property or sit and enjoy the birds at the feeders on the lower porch. 

Friday, May 3rd


Mountain Lake Biological Station– A short 2-mile drive from the hotel to the Mountain Lake Biological Station owned and operated by The University of Virginia. This is a nice easy, level walk on the grounds. The grounds feature: several mature red Spruce trees, a pond, and eye level birding at the tops of trees. Featured: Blackburnian Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue-headed Vireo, and Scarlet Tanager. The biological station is open only to the organized VSO trips. 

Carriage Trail - A nice easy walk from the hotel to the horse barns. There are lots of wildflowers and ferns. Featured: Veery, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Canada Warbler. Wood Thrush, and Least Flycatcher. A side trip at the end will go along the lower Jungle Trail to look for Canada Warblers. 

Explore 613- This is a vigorous walk from the hotel down the mountain on Route 613. The climb back up is steep but taken at a slow pace. Featured: Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, American Redstart, and Yellow-throated Vireo.

Saturday, May 4th 

7:30 am

Glen Alton / Kelly Flats - A 40 minute drive along Big Stony Creek to an estate owned by the National Forest Service. This is an interesting ecological area because the cold air from Salt Pond Mountain creates mountain top flora and fauna at 2,600 feet. These two trips use the same parking lot and restroom. Participants will be able to visit both areas. Glen Altonfeatures a walk through mature woodlands, an heirloom apple orchard, a large open field and a boardwalk over a swamp. There are lots of wildflowers and ferns and wonderful riparian habitat. Featured: Blackburnian Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Ovenbird, Acadian Flycatcher and potential Olive-sided Flycatcher. Kelly Flats is an adjacent area, which is an uphill hike on a forest service road. Breeding birds featured: Hermit Thrush, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Redstart, Wood Thrush and Veery. 

Murphy Farm - A 30 minute drive through Sinking Creek Valley to the Murphy farm. This farm features 31 acres of native grassland, farmland, several ponds, and mature Fraser Fir trees from an abandoned Christmas tree farm ( a real attractant for migrating warblers). Brian Murphy has created the farm with the hope of attracting a wild resident Northern Bobwhite population. There is easy walking with a moderate grade. Featured: Woodcock, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Field Sparrow, Meadowlark, Blue Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and several species of warblers. 

Clover Hollow Christmas Tree Farm - Thousands of Christmas trees of different ages along with mature woodlands and two ponds offered varied habitats for birdlife. You may do the lower areas for easy walking or choose to walk up the hill through the Christmas trees and the mature woods. Featured: Black-and-white Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Great Crested Flycatcher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Field Sparrow, and Chipping Sparrow. 

Mountain Lake Biological Station (See above)

8:00 am

White Pine Lodge - This will be a combination wildflower and birding trip through a mature stand of Rhododendron. This trip follows a road through moist woodland. The trail is rich wildflowers and the high elevation plant communities typically found much further to the north. In addition the bird life is also rich. Featured: Canada Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, American Redstart, Least Flycatcher, and Blue-headed Vireo. 

Blueberry Hill - This trip will be a walking trip from the hotel up the hill passing some of the historic cabins of Mountain Lake Lodge to the new Blueberry Ridge cabins. A side trail passes through a very mature stand of wild blueberries. The road continues around to the main road through Mountain Lake. This is one of our favorite birding trails at Mountain Lake Lodge: nesting Dark-eyed Junco, Least Flycatcher, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Gray Catbird. Eastern Towhee, Indigo Bunting, and Cedar Waxwing. 

Rafting on the New River- Depends on the status of the river. Those who expressed interest will be individually contacted with arrangements and trip price.

Sunday, May 5th -- Check out time 11:00am


Departure trips - For guests who are checking out after breakfast, these trips will stop several places for birding between Mountain Lake Lodge and Blacksburg.  There may also be stops along the way for target birds.  There will be a choice of three different destinations each of which will take about an hour. Each of these trips has easy access to Rte. 460 and Interstate 81. 

Pandapas Pond- This is a Forest Service Recreation area with two lakes with an active beaver dam and lodge. The trail around the lake is easy walking and passes through open forests with easy birding views. Birding along the dam gives eye level looks at the treetops for excellent views of migrants. Featured: Hooded Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Pine Warbler, American Redstart, Blue-headed Vireo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Scarlet Tanager. 

Blacksburg High School - The pastures and field around the high school are easy to walk and have surprisingly rich bird diversity. Featured: Willow Flycatcher, Grasshopper Sparrow. Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Blue Grosbeak, Tree Swallow, and Eastern Bluebird.

Deerfield trail - A greenway along Tom’s Creek. The trail passes through open pastures, a pine stand, and a mature deciduous forest. A side trail leads to a wet area. This is an easy walk on a paved trial for 1.6 miles total. Featured: Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, White-eyed Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Eastern Kingbird, and Yellow-breasted Chat. 

Blue berry Hill- walking from the hotel (See Saturday above) 

Carriage Trail- walking from the hotel (See Saturday above)

Schedule of Annual Meeting Activities

Friday May 3rd

For guests arriving early there will be several optional field trips in the morning and in the afternoon. Sign up when you arrive at the VSO registration table. Meals for Friday (breakfast, lunch and dinner) are on your own with many choices on the menu of the Harvest Restaurant and Stony Creek Tavern. Mixed drinks, beer and wine can be ordered at the Stony Creek Tavern. Exhibit areas and vendors will be in the Giles Cascade room adjacent to the ballroom. The Friday evening session will be held in the Ballroom and will include the VSO Business meeting, and an introduction to Mountain Lake birding and the field trips.   

Saturday May 4th

Buffet Breakfast at 6:30 a.m. in the Harvest Restaurant. Field trips will leave shortly after breakfast. Carpooling is requested for trips off of the mountain. For trips off of the mountain, several options for lunch will be available before returning to Mountain Lake. Paper sessions will be in the afternoon in the Ballroom. Exhibits will continue in the Giles Cascade room adjacent to the ballroom. There will be a silent auction in the display area for your participation. So bring cash or your checkbook. Because we are expecting a large turnout for the meeting, the banquet buffet will be served in two seatings in the Harvest Restaurant. There will also be a cash bar on the first floor patio for you to visit with friends as you await your seating. Our hummingbirds will be there to entertain as well.  

Saturday evening Speaker

Dr. Rebecca Keller, American Bird Conservancy Appalachian Mountain Joint Venture Science Coordinator will speak on From Appalachia to the Tropics-Bridging Gaps for the Birds. The focus will be on conservation efforts for several declining species, including the Golden winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler and Wood Thrush. American Bird Conservancy has been working with international partners, particularly in Colombia and Venezuela to locate wintering areas for these Appalachian species. Many of these birds now carry geolocators and biologists are working to identify critical areas for protection within the tropics.  

Sunday Morning May 5th

Breakfast at 6:30 a.m. in the Harvest Restaurant. Some of the field trips will be repeated from Saturday and others will be new offerings so that you can visit many of the wonderful areas of the Mountain Lake area. For those of you staying over for an additional night, there will be field trip opportunities in the afternoon.  

Registration Information

Anyone interested in attending should make sure to fill out the registration form by April 15th. Click here to view the registration form. For more information or if you have any questions, reach out to Jerry Via at

Call For Presentations

The Virginia Society of Ornithology invites scientific presentations for its 2019 Annual Meeting to be held May 3rd to 5th at Mountain Lake Lodge in Pembroke, VA. Oral presentations should be 15 minutes long, including time for questions. Static displays (such as posters) will also be accepted space permitting. Submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee and added to the program until the schedule or display space is full. Presentations will be given between 2 and 4PM on Saturday, May 4. Please submit the following information about your poster or presentation no later than March 22, 2019. Participants will be notified of their acceptance (and time slot) by April 5, 2019.

Title of oral presentation or poster
Presenter’s name
Email address
Phone number
Institutional affiliation (college or organization), if applicable
Names of co-authors, if applicable
Brief abstract (250 word limit)
Audio-visual needs (e.g. laptop, projector, screen, etc.)
 Priority will be given to scientific presentations from persons affiliated with colleges or environmental organizations.  However, the selection committee will also consider presentations on any ornithological topic that might be of interest to VSO members, such as interesting birding adventures, bird club projects, rare sightings, etc. All presentations are limited to 15 minutes each.
Send information (email preferred) to: 
Dan Bieker
Phone: 434-971-9618
Postal Address:
Dan Bieker
4174 Laird Lane
North Garden, VA 22959

VSO Board of Directors hosting 2018 Annual Meeting in Harrisonburg, May 18-20, 2018

Nathan Pieplow

Have you made plans to attend the 2018 VSO Annual Meeting yet? You won’t want to miss this year’s exciting meeting in the beautiful mountain and valley region of western Virginia. The field trips will provide great opportunities to see unique high elevation breeding species AND support the Second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2). Saturday field trips will focus on under-atlased areas of Rockingham and Highland counties that overlap with birding hotspots. Sunday field trips will go to local birding hotspots, as always. Expert atlas volunteers and field trip leaders will guide you on Saturday and Sunday. Plan on finding some of the birds in Virginia’s Mountains and Valleys Region that you don’t see often and learn more about breeding bird behavior. See below for more details on all of the field trips. The cost of all field trips is included in the registration fee. We are excited to have Nathan Pieplow as our keynote speaker on Saturday at the banquet. His presentation ‘Listen to Her Sing,’ dispels the widespread notion that only male birds sing and explores the often-overlooked songs of female birds. Nathan is the author of the Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds (Eastern Region), which was published in March 2017. He teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Nathan has agreed to lead a field trip exploring female bird songs on Sunday morning; spots on this field trip will be raffled. Friday evening there will be a short business meeting followed by a presentation on area field trips. The brand new Hotel Madison & Shenandoah Valley Conference Center, which opens early this spring will be the headquarters for this meeting. The hotel is located at 710 South Main St in Harrisonburg and is within walking distance of downtown; it features a farm-to-table restaurant, indoor pool, spacious ballrooms and meeting rooms. The VSO has secured special rates of $129 for a single or $139 for double occupancy. Parking is $5 per day. Reserve your room by calling the Hotel Madison at 540-564-0200 or emailing the hotel at; identify yourself as a Virginia Society of Ornithology member in order to receive these special rates. You can also reserve your room online by going to the hotel website,, clicking on the Reservations link and using the code: AVSO18518 in the group/promo area. Be sure to register for your hotel room by April 18, 2018 to receive the special VSO rates.


The raffle drawing will be during the reception with cash bar on Saturday evening. You must be present to win and claim your prize! You could win:

  • A pair of Zeiss binoculars (Terra ED 8x42)
  • One of fifteen spots on a Sunday morning field trip led by Nathan Pieplow, the banquet keynote speaker on female bird song
  • A weekend at a quaint cottage in Blue Grass, Virginia and go birding with John Spahr and Patti Reum, two of the most knowledgeable local birders
  • Coffee from Earth Sangha
  • A gift basket from Friendly City Food Co-op in Harrisonburg
  • One of several recently published birding books including: One More Warbler: A Life With Birds by Victor Emanuel, Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, a Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World by Noah Strycker, and Avian Architecture: How Birds Design, Engineer, and Build by Peter Goodfellow
  • A Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries gift basket

These are just a few of the prizes that will be raffled at the 2018 Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO) Annual Meeting, May 18 to 20, 2018 in Harrisonburg. Raffle proceeds will benefit the Second Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas (VABBA2). Raffle tickets are $5 apiece or 5 for $20. Purchase your raffle tickets when you register or at the meeting. The raffle drawing will be held during the reception with cash bar on Saturday evening. You must be present to win and claim your prize.


A gourmet box lunch is available on Saturday. You must preorder by May 10, 2018 using the registration form. There are three sandwich choices for the boxed lunch:

A. Croque Monsieur – Grilled sandwich with ham, Gruyere cheese, and Dijon mustard
B. Nicoise Hero – Tuna sandwich with black olives, capers, green beans, and sliced hard-boiled egg with lettuce, tomatoes, and a squeeze of lemon juice
C. Vegetarian -- Herbed goat cheese on a croissant with spinach and roasted red peppers

The box lunch will also include your choice of sides: gourmet potato chips, house-made coleslaw, or home-made potato salad; an apple and choice of dessert: baked muffin or cookie, plus a soft drink or bottle of water. All of this for $15. Pick up your box lunch after you return from your Saturday morning field trip.


The meeting registration form is available electronically on the VSO web site, and also as a downloadable paper form (click Here). Late registration will be available at the meeting. On behalf of the VSO Board of Directors, we look forward to seeing you at our 2018 Annual Meeting in Harrisonburg.


This year marks the third field season and midpoint of the second VA Breeding Bird Atlas project. The VSO is commited to supporting this important citizen science effort and will be focusing a subset of field trip locations around local birding sites that overlap with Atlas priority areas.  Below is a list of planned field trip locations, as well as the distance from Harrisonburg shown in parentheses. Several additional Atlas trip locations will be finalized and published via the VSO website in early spring.

Madison Run Fire Road – Shenandoah National Park (16 miles)

Entering the Shenandoah National Park at the foot of the Appalachians just east of the Town of Grottoes, this well-maintained fire road travels gently uphill along Madison Run, a usually fast-moving creek, for about 1.2 miles before ascending more steeply to eventually reach Skyline Drive.  The creek, rocky outcroppings, and mixed evergreen/deciduous forest are reliable for Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Pine Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher and occasional Broad-winged Hawk and Barred Owl. In May, Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren and Brown Creeper are still possible, along with Red-breasted Nuthatch in irruption years.

Switzer Dam (20 miles)

This area is in the foothills of Shenandoah Mountain in western Rockingham County and is accessed via a narrow Forest Service road that winds down the mountain from a higher elevation. The mixed evergreen/deciduous forest, elevation, and water sources make it a prime area to see birds usually found farther north. Breeding birds commonly found at this site include Northern Parula, Blackburnian, Pine, and Black-throated Green Warblers. Many other warbler species and vireos are possible, including Cerulean Warblers that are frequently reported at one higher-elevation site. “Winter” birds such as Golden-crowned Kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatches are occasionally seen throughout the warmer months. We will bird the 3+ mile forest service road, with stops along the way. For those who are able and interested, the trip will include some walking on mostly level, but sometimes uneven, trails.

Cub Run Road – George Washington National Forest - Massanutten Mountain (25 miles)

This trip will include about 4 miles of car-birding with frequent stops along Cub Run Road, a gravel forest service road, and some hiking for those who wish, on rocky uneven trails. Habitat includes mature forest, large swaths of early post-successional burned habitat, and riparian habitat. Targets include Prairie Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat. Other likely species include Ovenbird, Hooded and Pine Warbler. Ruffed Grouse and Yellow-billed Cuckoos are possible. Red Crossbills have occasionally been sighted here.  

Lake Shenandoah (6.6 miles)

This 37-acre public fishing lake near Harrisonburg City, owned by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, is surrounded by a variety of habitat: shrubby areas, a golf course, white pine forest, deciduous forest and residential development. Past year sightings have included Common Yellowthroat, Nashville, Palm and Pine Warblers. Other species occurring in May include Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Green and Great Blue Herons, Belted Kingfisher, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Swainson’s Thrush, Double-crested Cormorant and vireos including warbling. This is a level walk, about 1.5 miles roundtrip, on a grassy path.

Shenandoah Mountain - Bother Knob and Reddish Knob (27 miles)

Reddish Knob and Bother Knob sit along the ridge ofShenandoah Mountain near Rockingham County’s southwesternborder with Augusta County. The mountain ridgeline definesthe border between the two Virginias. Several northerlyspecies can be found at these higher elevations includingbreeding Yellow-rumped, Canada, and Black-throated BlueWarblers, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breastedNuthatch, and Golden-crowned Kinglet. Red Crossbills are possible in this area. In 2009,near Bother Knob, Red-breasted Nuthatches were observedboth nest-building and later feeding young. This trip combinesdriving and walking. Roads at the higher elevations arenot well-maintained.

Skyline Drive - Pocosin Cabin/ Fire Road & South River Picnic Area – Shenandoah National Park (29 miles)

These Shenandoah National Park locations offer excellent birding in the Blue Ridge Mountains’ upper elevations, at the eastern border of Rockingham County. Habitat is predominately oak and hickory forest interspersed with occasional shrubby and brushy areas. Frequently observed breeding warblers include Cerulean, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, and Black-andwhite, among others. Canada Warblers typically breed near Pocosin Cabin, a prime birding location with brushy, shrubby areas and a spring-fed water source. Other frequent finds include Veery, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Least and Acadian Flycatcher.  This trip will include some walking along Pocosin Fire Road and maintained hiking trails. Time permitting we’ll include a loop from South River Picnic area to the Appalachian Trail north and return via South River Fire Road (Blackburnian Warblers are known to breed here.)

South River Falls Trail – Shenandoah National Park (27 miles)

This 3.3-mile loop trail that takes visitors to the South River Falls and then returns via the South River Fire Road is touted as one of the best areas for breeding birds found along Skyline Drive. A walk along this loop in late spring or early summer could produce over half-a-dozen breeding warblers including Canada, Cerulean, Blackburnian, and Black-throated Blue Warblers, Northern Parula, Louisiana Waterthrush, and American Redstart. Other species to be on the lookout for include White-breasted Nuthatch, Redeyed and Blue-headed Vireos, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Eastern Towhee. This trail is a more strenuous hike, so attendees should be prepared for some steeper trails and rough terrain.

Harrisonburg City: Hillandale Park and Edith J. Carrier Arboretum (2.5 miles)

With picnic shelters, walking trails and a playground area, Hillandale, a Harrisonburg City Park, is only partially developed and offers varied habitat supporting a nice mix of species. A small wet-season creek winds through the park, and undeveloped habitat includes both forested areas and grassy areas interspersed with occasional deciduous trees and Eastern Red Cedars. Last spring’s migrant warbler sightings here included Cape May, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, and Yellow-rumped. Other possibilities include Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Great Crested Flycatcher, vireos, and Baltimore Oriole. James Madison University’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, in the heart of Harrisonburg City, is primarily wooded with a small pond and some open areas. It serves as a welcome stopover for many migrants and in years past has turned up many surprises.


Check the VSO website for updates, the tentative schedule for the weekend is as follows:


1:30 p.m. – Field Trips
3:00 p.m. – Registration begins and Vendor/Exhibitor area opens.
6:00-7:00 p.m. – Reception with hors d’oeuvres and cash bar
7:00 p.m. – Business Meeting & Field Trip Program


Morning (Various times) – Field Trips
11:00 a.m. – Registration continues and Vendor/Exhibitor area open.
2:00-4:00 p.m. – Paper sessions
5:30-7:00 p.m. – Reception with cash bar and raffle prizes drawing
7:00 p.m. – Banquet (buffet) dinner and program with Nathan Pieplow


Morning (Various times) – Field Trips
Noon – Annual meeting ends


The Virginia Society of Ornithology invites scientific presentations for its 2018 Annual Meeting to be held May 18 to 20th  at the Hotel Madison and Shenandoah Valley Conference Center in Harrisonburg, VA. Oral presentations should be 15 minutes long, including time for questions. Static displays (such as posters) will also be accepted space permitting. Submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee and added to the program until the schedule or display space is full. Presentations will be given between 2 and 4PM on Saturday, May 19. Please submit the following information about your poster or presentation no later than March 29, 2018. Participants will be notified of their acceptance (and time slot) by April 13, 2018.

Title of oral presentation or poster
Presenter’s name
Email address
Phone number
Institutional affiliation (college or organization), if applicable
Names of co-authors, if applicable
Brief abstract (250 word limit)
Audio-visual needs (e.g. laptop, projector, screen, etc.)
Priority will be given to scientific presentations from persons affiliated with colleges or environmental organizations.  However, the selection committee will also consider presentations on any ornithological topic that might be of interest to VSO members, such as interesting birding adventures, bird club projects, rare sightings, etc. All presentations are limited to 15 minutes each.
Send information (email preferred) to:
Dan Bieker
Phone: 434-971-9618
Postal Address:
Dan Bieker
4174 Laird Lane
North Garden, VA 22959


Chair, Rexanne Bruno
Lenny Bankester
Ashley Peele
Jeff Trollinger
Diane Lepkowski
Len Smock
Andrew Dolby
Dan Bieker

Richmond Audubon Society to Host 2017 VSO Annual Meeting

Richmond Audubon Society will be hosting the 2017 Virginia Society of Ornithology Annual meeting at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel and Conference Center from May 5 – 7. Speakers at this year’s event include a kick-off presentation by Dr. Ashley Peele about the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 on Friday night. Our keynote speaker for Saturday evening’s banquet will be Jennifer Ackerman, author and naturalist, who recently published her new book The Genius of Birds.

Registration for the Annual Meeting is available online at the VSO website (here: or by mailing a check with the registration form found in the VSO newsletter.  Prices per person are: registration $40, banquet $40, and raffle for a pair of Zeiss Optics binoculars $5.

The Wyndham Virginia Crossings hotel is located at 1000 Virginia Center Parkway, Glen Allen, Virginia.  We have negotiated a special rate for the Annual Meeting weekend.  Single occupancy rooms with breakfast for one included (at the restaurant’s breakfast buffet) is $124 per night, and double occupancy rooms with breakfast for two included is $134 per night.  To get the group rate, call (804) 727-1400 or 1-888-444-6553 and identify yourself as a member of the Virginia Society of Ornithology group to get the reduced rate.  If you want to register online, use this link to get the reduced rate:   Be sure to register with the hotel before April 12, 2017!

The Slideshow (just click to advance to the next photograph) above depicts some of the colorful species that can be found around the Richmond metropolitan area during the height of spring migrations. All photographs © Virginia Society of Ornithology.

VSO 2017 Speakers

Ashley Peele, PhD – Friday, May 5

The VSO meeting will begin with a talk on the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas 2 (VABBA2) by Dr. Ashley Peele, the Coordinator for the 2016-2020 survey effort in Virginia. The VABBA2 is a cooperative citizen-science project being run by the Virginia Society of Ornithology and Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and will result in the state’s second Breeding Bird Atlas. Ashley Peele earned her Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University before attending Tulane University for her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She has researched American Redstart populations in Jamaica, feather-degrading bacteria, and importance of feather melanin on feather wear. Her current interest is engaging non-consumptive users and wildlife enthusiasts into participating in conservation efforts to contribute to a larger body of scientific knowledge.

Jennifer Ackerman – Saturday, May 6

Keynote speaker Jennifer Ackerman is both author and naturalist, having written The Genius of Birds in April 2016, which delves into the intelligence of “bird-brained” species across the globe that exhibit incredible feats of memory and creativity. Jennifer earned the Silver Medal Award for Nature Writing from the International Regional Magazine Association, has been selected for the New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” and also the New York Times “New and Noteworthy” paperback. She has been published by The New York Times, National Geographic, and Scientific American (to name a few) for her writing, has been interviewed by National Public Radio, and has published five books with critical acclaim. The Daily Progress commended, “Richly researched… The Genius of Birds provides engrossing evidence that will have readers looking at birds in a completely new way.” A book signing opportunity will follow her presentation after the banquet.

VSO 2017 Annual Meeting Call for Papers

This year’s Virginia Society of Ornithology meeting is scheduled May 5-7, 2017, and will be hosted by the Richmond Audubon Society at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center. The scientific paper session is set for Saturday, May 6, from 2-4pm. Presentations should be 15 minutes long, including time for questions. If you are interested in giving an oral presentation at the conference about your research, please submit the following information by March 17, 2017 in an e-mail to Abby Walter, Programs Coordinator (

  • Name
  • E-mail address
  • Phone Number
  • Names of co-authors (if applicable)
  • Institutional affiliation (if applicable)
  • Title of oral presentation
  • Brief abstract (250 word limit)
  • Audio-visual needs (e.g. laptop and LCD projector, overhead projector, slide projector)

The board will review submissions and applicants will be notified of their acceptance and time slot by March 31.

VSO 2017 Field Trips

Unless noted otherwise below, Participant Registration for these trips will be performed upon check-in at the VSO Annual Meeting!

Field trips for the 2017 VSO Annual Meeting will visit the best spring birding sites in the Richmond area. Most of the trips will focus on riparian forest and wetland habitat along the James River as it flows through and below Richmond. Spring migrants will be filling the forests and species like Prothonotary Warblers will be defending their territories. Several of the locations have restricted access (Curles Neck) and are being made available specifically for the VSO field trips. And boat trips down the James will provide spectacular views of bald eagles and other species along the river.

Trips will be offered Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday morning. All trips will depart from the meeting hotel except the Bald Eagle Tours, which will meet at the boat dock at the start time noted on the schedule. Carpooling is highly encouraged and for some trips, to locations with limited parking space, a necessity. The number of participants for each trip is limited. Paths at the sites, none of which are particularly strenuous, may be wet so wear appropriate footwear. Bathroom facilities at most sites are limited. Trip leaders will have water and some snacks. All field trips are subject to last minute changes depending on weather and number of participants (so register early).

All sites are ebird hotspots – get more information on site locations and expected species on the ebird web site (


All field trips are included in the Annual Meeting registration except for a $45 per person cost for the Discover the James Bald Eagle boat tours.

Field Trip Locations

Discover the James Bald Eagle Tour (35 minutes, 27 miles to boat dock)

Ride along with Capt. Mike Ostrander aboard the Discovery Barge II, a comfortable 24-foot covered pontoon boat for this unique 2-hour, 5-mile trip on the tidal James River. This is a great opportunity to get up close to numerous resident bald eagles and other birds along the river. Experience this ecosystem rich with wildlife, abundant history and beautiful scenery. This trip provides great photography opportunities. See more information at

Capt. Mike has reserved five trips just for the VSO meeting. Cost per person is $45. Maximum of 6 people per trip (minimum of 4 people registered per trip required by April 25 or trip will be cancelled). Departs from Deep Bottom park boat dock (for directions to the dock, see reserve a spot on one of the VSO Eagle Tours, please call Captain Mike Ostrander directly at (804) 938-2350.

Curles Neck Farm (35 minutes; 31 miles)

This 5500 acre, privately owned working farm was one of the original great James River plantations and has been in continual operation for nearly 400 years. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located along the north bank of the James River in eastern Henrico County, it has a wide variety of habitat, including nearly 2000 acres of both wetland and fields, 1000 acres of forest, and a number of ponds. Bird life is diverse at all times of the year.

Powhatan State Park (50 minutes; 40 miles) - Note: This trip replaces the planned Belmead Plantation, as that site was unable to accommodate us.

Powhatan State Park includes 1500 acres of open field and mature forests, located along the James River in Powhatan County.  We will slowly walk ~2 miles of trails in these habitats and hope to see any number of spring migrant songbirds as well as breeding yellow-breasted chat, grasshopper sparrow, wood thrush, summer and scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, and orchard oriole.

James River Park (all sites about 25 minutes; 15 miles)

The premier birding location within the city of Richmond, the James River Park system runs along both sides of the James River at the Fall Line between Virginia’s Piedmont and Coastal Plain. Here the rapid drop in elevation of the river makes Richmond the only city in the country with Class IV white water rapids in the middle of downtown. The park’s 550 acres are primarily riparian woodland, prime habitat for migrating birds and the best location in the Richmond area for spring warblers. Three separate locations in the park are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. The JRP-42nd St. and JRP-Reedy Creek trips cover the same areas of the park, but start from different locations. An elevated walkway near the 42nd St. entrance provides treetop birding. The JRP-Wetlands trip covers a different area of the park.

Henricus Historical Park-Dutch Gap Conservation Area (40 minutes; 30 miles)

Henricus and Dutch Gap Conservation Area include an extensive area of forest, river, wetlands, meadows, oxbow lakes, ponds and a tidal lagoon in Chesterfield County to the southeast of Richmond. Henricus Historical Park, with open woodland, is the site of the Citie of Henricus, founded in 1611 as the second successful English settlement in the New World. The variety of habitats provide for great birding.

Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery (40 minutes; 36 miles)

Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery is a 444-acre U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service facility located east of Richmond in Virginia’s historic tidewater plantation country. The hatchery plays a key role in the efforts to restore declining and imperiled populations of migratory fish and other aquatic species of the Atlantic coast. The facility includes extensive forest, field, stream and lake habitat that support a wide variety of bird species.

Brown’s Island-Potterfield Memorial Bridge-James River Floodwall (20 minutes; 14 miles)

Brown’s Island, on the south bank of the James River in downtown Richmond is the jumping off point to walk across the river – on the newly opened Potterfield Memorial Bridge. This pedestrian bridge, linking the north and south shores of the river, crosses over an extensive area of rapids and allows an excellent opportunity to observe birds on and along the river. The trail along the Floodwall also provides easy observations of birds on the river and in its riparian areas.

Ashland Trolley Line (10 minutes; 6 miles)

The Ashland Trolley Line runs along a portion of the former Richmond-Ashland Electric Line, which linked the two communities for 31 years until its closure in 1938. The 0.5-mile grass and gravel trail now runs through dense forest, a favorite birding location for locals. Limited parking is available at the Ashland Trolley Line’s southern trailhead on Gwathney Church Road/State Route 707 in Hanover County.

Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas Workshop (at the meeting center)

An important theme to this year’s annual meeting is the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas. Ashley Peele, Coordinator of the project, will provide a hands-on workshop for you to learn everything you need to know about breeding observation and data entry to the Atlas data base. This will be an invaluable session for you to help build the Virginia Breeding bird Atlas.

The Diamond (15 minutes; 9 miles)

Do you want to see nighthawks? Visit the Diamond in the evening. Located in the heart of the city, the Diamond is the city’s stadium for minor league baseball. Each evening in the summer nighthawks can be readily seen flycatching overhead from the stadium’s parking lot. This is a fun trip to end a day of birding.

Field Trip Schedule

Friday Afternoon (May 5)

  • Discover the James Bald Eagle Tour – 1:00-3:00.
  • Harrison Lake Fish Hatchery – depart at 1:00.
  • Henricus-Dutch Gap – depart at 1:00.
  • Brown’s Island-Potterfield Memorial Bridge-James River Floodwall – depart at 1:30.

Friday Evening (May 5)

  • The Diamond – depart at 8:00.

Saturday Morning (May 6)

  • Discover the James Bald Eagle Tour – 7:00-9:00.
  • Powhatan State Park (Note: This trip replaces the planned Belmead Plantation trip, as that site was unable to accommodate a trip– depart at 6:30. Carpooling required.
  • James River Park – Reedy Creek – depart at 6:30. Carpooling highly encouraged.
  • James River Park – Wetlands – depart at 7:00. Carpooling highly encouraged.
  • James River Park – 42nd St. – depart at 7:00. Carpooling highly encouraged.
  • Ashland Trolley Line – depart at 7:00.
  • Curles Neck Farm – depart at 7:30. Carpooling required.
  • Henricus-Dutch Gap – depart at 7:30.

Saturday Afternoon (May 6)

  • Discover the James Bald Eagle Tour – 12:00-2:00.
  • Henricus-Dutch Gap – depart at 1:00.
  • Hollywood Cemetery – depart at 1:30.
  • Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery – depart at 1:30.

Sunday Morning (May 7)

  • Discover the James Bald Eagle Tour – 7:00-9:00.
  • Discover the James Bald Eagle Tour – 9:30-11:30.
  • Powhatan State Park (Note: This trip replaces the planned Belmead Plantation trip, as that site was unable to accommodate a trip– depart at 6:30. Carpooling required.
  • James River Park – Reedy Creek – depart at 6:30.
  • James River Park – Wetlands – depart at 7:00.
  • James River Park – 42nd St. – depart at 7:00.
  • Henricus-Dutch Gap – depart at 7:00.
  • Curles Neck Farm – depart at 7:30. Carpooling required.
  • VA Breeding Bird Atlas Workshop – Meeting Center – 10:00.

Eileen Geller
President, Richmond Audubon Society

Roanoke Valley Bird Club VSO Annual Meeting April 29-May 1, 2016

Ah, spring birding in the mountains and valleys of Roanoke. Come experience it for yourself. We are lucky to have a diverse assortment of habitats that attract a wide variety of migrant and resident birds. From yellow-crowned night-herons and Louisiana waterthrushes on our local streams to cerulean warblers on our mountaintops, from grasshopper sparrows in our fields to ovenbirds in our forests—the Roanoke area has it all. There will be a few field trips offered Friday afternoon (preregistration required; descriptions can be found in this newsletter) and lots more on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. There will be stationary, driving, and hiking trips of varying degrees of difficulty so you can choose one that's right for you.

We will start the weekend with several field trips Friday afternoon (preregistration required at 540-580-5214 or RVBC2015@OUTLOOK.COM).

Pick up your registration packets and sign up for Saturday and Sunday's field trips beginning Friday afternoon. You may sign up for a boxed lunch to take on your field trips Saturday and/or Sunday. Lunches will include sandwich, chips, cookie and beverage for $13 each. Otherwise lunch is on your own at the Sheraton’s award-winning Shula’s 347 Grill or at another of the fine restaurants Roanoke has to offer. Field trip leaders may have suggestions for restaurants in the vicinity of your trip. The hotel also offers complimentary shuttle rides to Valley View Mall for its guests, where you will find a wide variety of places to eat. For breakfast at the hotel you may purchase a hot breakfast buffet or menu item at Pi Kitchen, or lighter fare at the Market, both opening at 6 a.m.

Enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and cash bar Friday evening while you browse through the vendor tables and peruse the items up for bid at our silent auction. Then attend the short business meeting, which will be followed by the ever popular and always entertaining Jerry Via of the New River Valley, with his program entitled "Birds of the Roanoke Valley and Mountains." This program will help familiarize you with what species we are likely to encounter.

On Friday and Saturday, be sure to look for our silent auction with many wonderful bird and outdoors-oriented items, as well as some exciting gifts and discount coupons for restaurants.  If you’re suffering from “warbler neck” after all the great birding Saturday morning, try a relaxing chair massage; we suggest a donation of $1/minute to the trained massage therapist.

After a morning of birding on Saturday, relax at the hotel while visiting the vendor tables and attending a series of short lectures at the papers session in the afternoon. That evening you can again enjoy the hors d'oeuvres and cash bar, mingle with friends you seldom see, and maybe even make some new friends. You won’t want to miss the banquet Saturday night, featuring Pete Dunne as keynote speaker. In his program, "Small-Headed Flycatcher," Pete will recount the rediscovery of a bird believed extinct (if it ever existed at all) whose discovery was claimed by both Alexander Wilson and John James Audubon, and this dispute lies at the heart of the discord between these twin pillars of American Ornithology. The yarn has a modern as well as historic focus and will be enjoyed by birders and non-birders alike. Pete will be doing a book signing at the banquet, and Buteo Books will have an assortment of his books available for purchase, or you can bring one from your own collection. If there’s a particular book you’re looking for, contact Buteo Books at or 434-263-8671.

Limited exhibit and vendor space is available.

Prices are $10/individual, $20/business, and nonprofits are free. Limited advertising space is available in the program. Rates are $90/full page, $60/half page, $45/quarter page and $25/business card size.

Sunday morning there will be more field trips to attend as we wind up the weekend's activities. How would you like to win a chance to go birding with Pete Dunne on Saturday? He has agreed to let us raffle him off for a fun morning of easy birding. You can purchase as many raffle tickets as you'd like using the registration form. At the close of registration, we will draw the winning tickets and notify the winners.

Pete Dunne

Pete Dunne, Ambassador for New Jersey Audubon, retired Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, founder of the World Series of Birding, contributor to many major American birding magazines, and author of more than a dozen books on birds, birdwatching and bird conservation, started birding when he was 7 years old. In 2001, he received the Roger Tory Peterson Award from the American Birding Association for lifetime achievement in promoting the cause of birding. Eric Stiles, president of New Jersey Audubon, calls him a "birder, teacher, natural history maven and master chronicler of the natural world."


The Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center at 2801 Hershberger Road will be our base of operations. You do not have to stay at the hotel to attend the meeting, but everything other than field trips will happen there. The Sheraton is conveniently located just off I-581 eight miles south of I-81. The hotel is less than two miles from the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport and from Valley View Mall, a major shopping center with numerous restaurants. Guests can take advantage of the hotel’s free shuttle service to both. The hotel has set aside a block of rooms for us at the special rate of $99.00 plus tax. That rate will be available for 3 days prior to and 3 days after the meeting for those who wish to come early or stay on after the conference to experience more that the Roanoke area has to offer. Rooms must be reserved by April 8 to take advantage of this special rate. All reservations are subject to a 72-hour cancellation policy. Reservations can be made online here. You can also reserve a room by calling the hotel central reservations number at 800-563-3535, or by calling the hotel directly at 540-563-9300. To receive the special group rate, attendees should identify themselves as part of the Virginia Society of Ornithology 2016 Annual Meeting.

The recently renovated hotel offers rooms that include free internet, cable TV, a refrigerator, a large desk, Sheraton Sleeper beds and in-room coffee by Starbucks. Dining options at the hotel are Pi Kitchen, opening for breakfast at 6 a.m. as a courtesy to us early birds, with an ala carte menu as well as a buffet breakfast for $13.95; The Market, open at 6:30 a.m. with light fare; and Shula's 347 Grill for lunch and dinner. Other hotel amenities include a full bar, fitness center, indoor pool, and an ATM. Find out more about the hotel, such as their pet friendly offer and their Make a Green Choice option, at

We look forard to seeing you in 2016. Don't forget to check the RVBC Facebook page or Roanoke Valley web site at roanokevalleybirdclub.comoften.

VSO 2016 Annual Meeting Call for Papers

The Virginia Society of Ornithology invites scientific presentations for its 2016 Annual Meeting to be held April 29 – May 1st in Roanoke. This meeting is a joint event with the Roanoke Valley Bird Club. Oral presentations should be 15 minutes long, including time for questions. Static displays (such as posters) will also be accepted space permitting. Submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee and added to the program until the schedule or display space is full. Please submit the following information about your poster or presentation no later than March 14, 2016. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by March 21, 2016.

  • Oral presentation or poster
  • Presenting author’s name
  • Presenting author’s contact information:
    postal address, email address, phone number
  • Institutional affiliation (if applicable)
  • Names of co-authors (if applicable)
  • Title of oral presentation or poster
  • Brief abstract (250 word limit)
  • Audio-visual needs (e.g. laptop and LCD projector,
    overhead projector, slide projector)

Send information (email preferred) to Carole Massart
Phone: 540-890-4806
Postal address:
Carole Massart
1777 Thomason Lane
Goodview, VA 24095