"Protecting Wildlife Through Field Research, Education and Habitat Conservation For 25 Years"
Prothonotary Warbler. Illustration by Anna Stunkel, our Kiptopeke Hawkwatcher for the past four years. CVWO volunteers have started monitoring Prothonotary Warbler nest boxes. Later in the spring we'll have t-shirts with this beautiful image.
April 2020
A Word from the Prez!

In last month’s note I reflected on “a strange few weeks we’ve been through.” Here, a month later, things are still “strange” and are likely to continue for weeks. We’re wearing masks and “social distancing” while trying to observe, enjoy, and record the annual spring assault on our senses. I hope you’re able to enjoy the migration of our neotropical migrating birds and the emergence of our spring butterflies, trees and blooms.

Our spring hawkwatch at College Creek continues even though the Colonial Parkway is closed to vehicle traffic. See the note below to learn how one of our volunteers solved THAT problem!

With this note I am appealing to our friends and members for information about Durant Ball, an artist who lived in Newport News and who was working on an art project for CVWO. We want to reestablish a connection but have not been able to find him. If you know Mr. Ball and have information about where he now lives, please contact me directly at this email . I really appreciate it. Here’s a photo of Mr. Ball working on our project.
Meanwhile, stay well and take care of your families.

Other topics in this issue of our eNewsletter:
  • Actions underway to provide nesting habitat for seabirds at Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel
  • May 2 Raptorthon to support Hawk Migration Association of North America
  • Prothonotary Warblers are here
  • So are Monarchs and they're laying eggs

CVWO President

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VA Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries Creating New Habitat for Nesting Seabirds at Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
Common Tern with chick on Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. Photo by Shirley Devan
Keep up to date on the actions of VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries as they work to create new nesting areas for thousands of birds.

Here's the link.
Thousands of birds returning to Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel
CVWO has a unique and special interest in the efforts of Virginia agencies to create new habitat for nesting terns, gulls, and skimmers at the Hampton Road Bridge-Tunnel. For decades CVWO volunteers assisted the late Ruth Beck, Professor Emeritus at William and Mary, in the study and monitoring of birds on the south island of HRBT.

This spring the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is working to modify Fort Wool/Rip Raps Island to entice the seabirds to nest there. They are creating a sand substrate that the birds prefer and using decoys to attract the birds away from the HRBT.

In addition, DGIF is establishing more than an acre of additional habitat by anchoring barges in the area between the HRBT South Island and Rip Raps Island.
Support Raptorthon May 2
By Brian Taber

We like to publicly thank Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA) whenever we can, from both College Creek Hawkwatch in spring and Kiptopeke in fall, letting people know of their analyses, reports and conservation goals.

Currently, the road to the College Creek Hawkwatch is closed for the virus crisis, and while one volunteer is biking out there most days to cover, I can’t get there so I’m happy to be doing a Raptorthon from my yard, which is about 3 miles from College Creek. Officially it's the Holly Creek Team!
All funds we raise will support HMANA programs. Thank you for your support!

Donate to HMANA and our local Raptorthon here.
Are You Seeing Monarchs Now?
Volunteers have recorded Monarchs in the Williamsburg area already! Shirley Devan observed a faded Monarch flying down one of the creeks on Jamestown Island March 27, a new early date for this species in the Williamsburg area. Then on April 19 she photographed a Monarch laying eggs on common milkweed sprouts at the Williamsburg Garden.
Photo above shows a Monarch egg on the underside of a common milkweed leaf.

Both photos taken Williamsburg Botanical Garden by Shirley Devan. The Garden is one of CVWO's partners.
Next Monarch Joint Venture Webinar is April 28
The next webinar is April 28: "Research Reports from the Field: Western Population Research - Pesticide Contamination of Milkweed in California's Central Valley"

Register for this free webinar here .

CVWO is a partner with Monarch Joint Venture.

You can track the northward migration of Monarchs and other species at Journey North and add your own observations.
Despite Closure to Vehicles, College Creek Hawkwatch Continues!
College Creek Hawkwatch experienced a temporary interruption at the end March when the National Park Service and the Colonial National Historical Park closed the Colonial Parkway to vehicular traffic between Williamsburg and Jamestown because of the corona virus.

Within a few days volunteer Nancy Barnhart had bought a bike with enough bags to carry her spotting scope, tripod, binoculars, camera and other creature comforts. We are now back up and counting most days. Thanks, Nancy!

Counting will continue through the month of May. 

March 2020 set a new one-month record with 1618 raptors counted migrating north. That record was driven by 1354 Turkey Vultures and included a one day high count of 216. We’re seeing a large increase in immature Bald Eagles this year and mixed results on the other usual species. We will provide a summary at the end of the season. 
Nancy Barnhart scans the skies over the James River and Hog Island for migrating raptors…and swallows.
In addition to raptors we often get good looks at the American White Pelicans soaring over Hog Island and the James. Other observations have included 22 Anhingas flying over, a one-day flight of  200+ swallows (Barn, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, Bank), Chimney Swifts and Purple Martins, and early looks at Least Terns.
Prothonotary Warblers have arrived and are ready to nest
Carolina Chickadees grab the boxes in March before the Prothonotary Warblers arrive. Jim Easton took this photo April 25 at Powhatan Creek Trail in James City County showing Carolina Chickadee nestlings almost ready to fledge.
Prothonotary Warblers arrived mid-April. Males establish territories and compete for females. The warbler nest shown above is about half complete. Jim Easton took this photo April 25 at Powhatan Creek Trail.
Prothonotary Warbler with a band at box 3 on Powhatan Creek Trail in James City County. Photo by Judy Jones.
At Dragon Run and Newport News…
As of late April, Dave Youker reports that he as two boxes with Carolina Chickadee nests and two with Prothonotary Warbler nest material. Dave monitors 11 boxes at Newport News Park.

Gary Driscole and Adrienne Frank monitor 20 nest boxes on the Dragon Run in King and Queen County and Middlesex County. As of late April, three Carolina Chickadee nests had eggs and one box had Prothonotary Warbler nest material.

At Powhatan Creek Trail, three boxes have Carolina Chickadee nestlings and four boxes have Prothonotary Warbler nest material.
Butterflies Appearing in May
Pipevine Swallowtail. Photo by Jim Easton
Viceroy. Photo by Jim Easton
Little Wood-satyr. Photo by Jim Easton
Northern Pearly-eye. Photo by Jim Easton
Twenty species of butterflies make their first local appearance in May
By Jim Easton

Twenty species of butterflies make their first local appearance in May. (Note, Northern Pearly-eye early date moved from June into May)

Be on the lookout for:

Family Papillonidea-Swallowtails:       
  • Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Family Lycaenidae-Gossamer-winged Butterflies:

  • Coral Hairstreak (Satyrium titus)

Family Nymphalidae-Brush-footed Butterflies:
  • Viceroy (Limenitis archippus)
  • Hackberry Emperor (Asterocampa celtis)
  • Appalachian Brown (Satyrodes appalachia)
  • Little Wood-satyr (Megisto cymela)
  • Northern Pearly-eye (Enodia anthedon)
  • Southern Pearly-eye (Enodia portlandia)
  • Creole Pearly-eye (Enodia creola)

Sub-family Hesperiinae-Grass Skippers
  • Swarthy Skipper (Nastra lherminier)
  • Clouded Skipper (Lerema accius)
  • Least Skipper (Ancycloxypha numitor)
  • Little Glassywing (Pompeius verna)
  • Sachem (Atalopedes campestris)
  • Delaware Skipper (Anatryone logan)
  • Aaron’s Skipper (Poanes aaroni)
  • Broad-winged Skipper (Poanes viator)
  • Dion Skipper (Euphyes dion)
  • Dun Skipper (Euphyes vestris)
  • Salt Marsh Skipper (Panoquina panoquin)

Broad-winged Skipper. Photo by Jim Easton
"Riding the Wind"
Riding the Wind is a book of essays by CVWO President Brian Taber about birds, birding, and conservation, several of which were previously published. Cover art by our hawkwatcher Anna Stunkel and 20 illustrations by award-winning artist Julie Zickefoose.

For a donation of $20.00 per book (plus $5.00 shipping & handling), email Nancy Barnhart and she will mail a copy out to you.

If you live in the Williamsburg area, you can save shipping and handling by visiting Backyard Birder at 1490 Quarterpath Road, or Wild Birds Unlimited, 4625 Casey Blvd, Suite 300.

You can also get a copy from Buteo books .
You can support CVWO just by shopping at AmazonSmile
It's same Amazon you know and love. Start at www.smile.amazon.com. Log in as you always do and then look for Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory in their list of charities. Amazon donates a small portion of your purchases to CVWO! Easy as that! And thanks!
Mother's Day is coming up. Get Mom a CVWO Coffee Mug, Water Bottle or Tee Shirt
Now you can show your support for CVWO with your tote bag, coffee mug, water bottle, or t-shirt! A small portion of each purchase comes back to CVWO to support our efforts.

Click over to CVWO's store on Cafe Press to see what else is available and the cost. No tax but there is a nominal shipping fee.

CVWO Has A New Website!
Visit and Share CVWO's New Website!

You'll find information on raptor, butterfly, songbird and waterbird research as well as beautiful photos and rich stories from the field!

And don't forget to support our nonprofit work with your tax-deductible donation!
CVWO's Blog Is Hopping!
Brian Taber. Photo by S Devan