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