"Protecting Wildlife Through Field Research, Education and Habitat Conservation For 25 Years"
We are excited about our 25th Anniversary logo by Megan Massa, 2019 Bird of the Year artist for the American Birding Association, ABA. The stunning artwork celebrates CVWO's 25 years of wildlife research. The Peregrine Falcon, Monarch butterfly, and Prothonotary Warbler represent a few of our research projects. Read about the new logo and meet Megan in our newsroom.
November 2019
A Word from the Prez!

We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends. Try to "carve" out some time (in addition to your turkey) to enjoy the fall days with the stunning foliage and the newly arrived winter birds.

I know I speak for the entire CVWO Board when I say THANK YOU for your support in 2019. Whether you've volunteered on a project (or two!), contributed to the Kiptopeke Challenge, or loyally renewed your membership, we are grateful for your continued commitment to our mission and projects. We need all that support and more as we prepare for 2020 and some exciting possible opportunities.

Stay tuned. And thank you for celebrating our 25th anniversary with us.

Thank you,
CVWO President

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Thanks to our biologists at Kiptopeke this fall!

Anna Stunkel, (top photo on left) our hawkwatch counter this season will be on the platform at Kiptopeke State Park through the end of November. So stop by to say hello if you're on the Eastern Shore over the Turkey Day holiday.

Megan Murante, (bottom photo on left) our educator and hawkwatch intern, left in mid-November. This was Megan's first year and she enthusiastically welcomed visitors at the platform and shared insights on how to identify the raptors moving overhead.

These young seasonal biologists - including Michael Ferrara below - contribute so much to CVWO's efforts to document the migration miracle on Virginia's Eastern Shore.

Anna records the hawk count daily here at Hawkcount.org. You can see the 2019 Kiptopeke raptor totals here . For example, of the 55 raptors recorded by Anna November 23, 20 were Red-tailed Hawks and 14 were Sharp-shinned Hawks. Anna usually adds more info about the day's observations such as this:

" A Snow Bunting flyover was a nice highlight first thing this morning. Hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds were on the move. Other sightings included:
  • 53 Cedar Waxwings
  • 48 American Goldfinches
  • 34 Eastern Bluebirds
  • 10 Great Blue Herons
  • 4 Canada Geese
  • 2 Common Loons
  • 2 Horned Larks
  • 2 Tundra Swans
  • 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers
  • 1 American Pipit…and…
  • 1 Wheel Bug
Report on 2019 Monarch Studies by CVWO
By Nancy Barnhart

CVWO's Monarch Biologist, Michael Ferrara, tagged 761 Monarchs this fall on the lower Eastern Shore of Virginia. This is a lower number than the last couple of years but still a successful season and overall, national numbers are showing a strong year.

You can stay in touch with Monarch migration news here at Journey North.org

Michael thinks the conditions this year kept the Monarchs flying higher in the sky as they came down the Eastern Shore. Read Michael's recap of the 2019 season - and see his photos - on CVWO's blog .

Many thanks to Michael for counting and tagging Monarchs this fall for CVWO!
Michael Ferrara releases a just-tagged Monarch.
Contact State Officials to Urge Construction of Island for Nesting Birds Next to HRBT
CVWO has mailed letters to four state executives encouraging support for the creation of an island adjacent to the new tunnel being built at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel between Hampton and Norfolk.

The birds need your help too.

Read more here from Virginia Public Radio and listen to an interview here with Steve Holmer at the American Bird Conservancy.

Will you write a letter to Virginia officials in favor of building an island for this waterbird colony that will otherwise be lost due to inaction. Urge them to do the "right thing."

Thanks so much!

Here are names and addresses (feel free to copy and paste):

The Honorable Ralph S. Northam
Governor of Virginia
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218

Matthew J. Strickler
Secretary of Natural Resources 
Patrick Henry Building
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Ryan Brown, Executive Director
VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 90778, 
Henrico, VA 23228-0778

Ms. Shannon Valentine, Secretary
Virginia Department of Transportation
1401 E. Broad St.
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Royal Terns on south island of Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel
SAMPLE TEXT FOR LETTER TO STATE OFFICIALS (copy and paste and modify as you wish):

I’m sure you are aware of the urgent situation concerning bird nesting on the South Island of the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. With the construction of the new tunnel, as many as 25,000 birds of eight species will be displaced, including the state threatened Gull-billed Tern. The South Island is also the only nesting area in Virginia for Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech has studied this critical situation and proposed that an island be constructed in the Hampton Flats area near the HRBT. Numerous state conservation organizations also support this island.

I strongly support this proposal to build an island for the tern colony that has, for decades, nested on the South Island of the HRBT. Since the HRBT expansion project will radically alter the South Island this winter, it is imperative that a suitable replacement nesting site be built before the tern colony returns from wintering grounds in March.

Luckily, plenty of substrate for creating such an island will be available nearby in January as a result of dredging the Port of Hampton Roads.

Thank you for considering my comments.
Gulls Gone Wild Win Piping Plover Trophy
By David Youker
Kiptopeke Challenge Coordinator

The coveted 2019 Kiptopeke Challenge Piping Plover trophy (shown on the right) goes to the "Gulls Gone Wild" team of Shirley Devan, Nancy Barnhart, Jan Lockwood, Sue Mutell and Barbara Neis for the third year in a row. They raised a little over $4,000! Well done team! The photo above shows the "Gulls" on the hawkwatch platform at Kiptopeke State Park.

This award goes to the Kiptopeke Challenge team that raises the most money. Every donation large and small helps us to accomplish the Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory (CVWO) mission, so a big thanks to each of you and your sponsors.
The 2019 total for all teams is over $10,600, so well done to all of you. Some of you may still be gathering donations from your sponsors, and we will certainly continue to accept all donations. However, the Gulls team has a sufficient lead that allows us to make the award announcement.

Know that every dollar goes to protecting wildlife through research, education and habitat conservation. Together, we are making a difference in Virginia and beyond. I hope that each of you will be back for KC 2020 and encourage other to join us too. Again, thank you for your continued support of CVWO.
Composing your holiday shopping list?
Consider this stocking stuffer by Brian Taber - "Riding the Wind - A Birder's Ups and Downs"
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!
Add CVWO Merchandise to your Holiday Shopping List
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!
Michael Ferrara. Photo by S Devan

Read the final posts of Megan Murante and Michael Ferrara on CVWO's blog.