"Protecting Wildlife Through Field Research, Education and Habitat Conservation For 25 Years"
We are proud to present 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. Meet Megan in the story below.
February 2019
A Word from the Prez!

First of all, we’re proud to show off our new artwork celebrating our 25 years! Many thanks to Megan Massa! You'll be seeing more of this beautiful image during 2019.

While we’re enduring the cold winter months and waiting for spring, we’ve been getting ready for butterflies to emerge and spring bird migration to start. Here’s an idea of what’s been happening this winter:

  • CVWO is now a “data collector” for the North American Butterfly Monitoring Network! As a spinoff from our broadening butterfly program, CVWO is listed as a “Program Monitoring All Species." Jeff Pippen, one of our butterfly colleagues who is now at Georgetown University, asked us to join and we are pleased to be contributing to their databases and research.

  • Of course, we continue to provide data to North American Butterfly Association (NABA) and Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA). Both of these web sites are friendly to citizen scientists and Lepidopteran lovers.

  • Be sure to read the note below about CVWO's research into the rare Creole Pearly-eye butterfly.

  • During the winter we also revised and updated CVWO’s "Butterflies of Coastal Virginia" brochure that we’ll distribute to schools, state parks, and city parks in the Coastal Plain. See the image on the right.

  • We worked closely with one of our partners, Historic Rivers Chapter of the VA Master Naturalists, to update and print the fourth edition of “Butterflies of the Williamsburg Area” (image on the right). This will be available widely in Williamsburg/James City County area and in parks and schools. A special shoutout to Adrienne Frank for her tireless efforts on this project.

  • If you want one or two of these colorful butterfly brochures - or a quantity for your organization, email me and I’ll get them out to you.

  • Please note that the College Creek Hawkwatch will start in March. Follow us on Facebook and check the CVWO blog for the exact upcoming date!

We appreciate your tax-deductible donations to support these year round efforts, particularly the printing of these educational materials. You can donate quickly and safely online by clicking on the "Support CVWO" button below. Or mail your check to CVWO, PO Box 764, Lightfoot, VA, 23090.

Follow us on  Facebook Twitter , and  Instagram !

Thank you so much for your continuing support.

Brian Taber
CVWO President
Great Backyard Bird Count!
Count your birds for science!

The 22 nd   Great Backyard Bird Count  (GBBC) starts today and continues through Monday, February 18. Volunteers from around the world are invited to count the birds they see for at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count, then enter their checklists at  birdcount.org . Anyone with internet access can participate, no matter what their skill level—it’s a great family activity, too.

“This year is a very exciting one for backyard birders in the East, headlined by the largest Evening Grosbeak movement in at least two decades,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the  eBird program . “From Atlantic Canada to North Carolina, these colorful feeder visitors have been making a splash.”
Meet Megan Massa
CVWO is very proud of our 25th Anniversary Celebration logo designed by Megan Massa, who was recently recognized as the ABA's Bird of the Year artist. A Red-billed Tropicbird soaring over a boat full of birders will be featured on the cover of the February 2019 issue of  Birding  magazine . It’s the first Bird of the Year work to exist completely in a digital realm. You can see the cover art here .

Massa is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary where she studied biology and environmental science. She has created artwork for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Center for Conservation Biology, in addition to the ABA. "I am a birder and naturalist who enjoys studying the natural world through art. I use a variety of traditional and digital media to explore my primary subject, birds, as well as insects and pet portraiture," says Massa on her website .

Look for the CVWO artwork to show up in a variety of places over our upcoming anniversary year!
CVWO confirms rare Creole Pearly-eye butterfly near Jamestown
2018 was our first survey season for the rare Creole Pearly-eye. Colonial National Historical Park granted CVWO a permit to survey suitable habitat near Jamestown to determine breeding and abundance. Many thanks to our volunteer and retired entomologist Ken Lorenzen, and other volunteers Adrienne Frank, Gary Driscole, Brian Taber, Les Lawrence, and Nancy Barnhart, for their “boots on the ground” work in 2018. A short version of Ken’s report to the National Park service is  here . Ken and CVWO volunteers will continue this research in 2019. One of Ken's photos of the rare Creole Pearly-eye is on the right. [Note that survey areas near Jamestown are not open to the public.]
Creole Pearly-eye Butterfly (male). Photo by Ken Lorenzen
Cape Charles Christmas Bird Count 1965 to 2018 – Then & Now
Harry Armistead. Photo by Steve Thornhill
Editor's Note: Harry Armistead graciously agreed to prepare a history of the Cape Charles Christmas Bird Count. CVWO is a sponsor of this CBC and helped pay for the boat rental allowing volunteers to survey barrier islands in the circle.

By Harry Armistead

Back in sixty-five, before he became a legend, Will Russell was a biologist at the Bird Banding Lab. He looked at a map, thinking Cape Charles, at the tip of Delmarva Peninsula, would be a good place for a count. He was right. We did some reconnoitering. That December ten of us started it, recording 146 species.

Two, Jared Diamond and John Terborgh, would later be MacArthur Fellows. Also there: Fred Scott and Paul Sykes. In 1968, when Will founded what would later become the highly successful bird tour company WINGS, he handed the count over to me. In 2016, after I became a little weary of it, George Armistead and Ned Brinkley relieved me.

In the count’s earliest years everything was either private or military. There was no state park, national wildlife refuges, The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern Shore Reserve, state wildlife management areas, or DGIF Natural Area Preserves. Now the count encompasses all of those, including two NWR’s. 53 acres has just been added to Magothy Bay Natural Area Preserve.

Clearly CCCBC is a great area, in some years, for American Woodcock. Consequently this helped establish Eastern Shore of Virginia N.W.R. Highest counts have been 759 (2010) and 570 (1993). He didn’t know me, but I asked Roger Tory Peterson to write a letter to some of the powers-that-be advocating for the establishment of ESVNWR. RTP wrote a beaut.

One of the glories of CBCs on the Eastern Shore of Virginia is the wonderful numbers and diversity of shorebirds in winter. CCCBC has recorded 27 species. The count established that Whimbrels and Marbled Godwits regularly occur here through the winter, their farthest north. Counts have totaled occasionally over 10,000 Dunlin, over 100 godwits.

There is a largely uncelebrated rivalry between CCCBC and Cape May, a sort of David vs. Goliath situation. Cape May has a resident colony of outstanding naturalists, comparable in its own way to the Greece of Pericles, the Bloomsbury Group, or Philadelphia in 1776. Cape Charles has Ned Brinkley.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird photographed by Bill Williams December 30, 2018 on Fisherman Island during the Cape Charles Christmas Bird Count.
Sort of like when JFK at a cultural event said it was the most remarkable gathering of talent ever at the White House, except when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. For many years we ”beat” Cape May, but with their permanent, year-round talent plus 30 or more participants than CCCBC, that is hard to do anymore.

CCCBC is blessed with four barrier islands, a productive landfill, some precious fresh water ponds, extensive saltmarsh, bays, and ocean, and a checkerboard pattern of fields and woodlands. The boat party has been weathered out only once, one year navigating through extensive ice floes. Usually led by Dan Cristol, it concentrates on seven-mile long Smith Island and the vast mudflats of Thoms Creek-Mockhorn Island.

For four consecutive years in the 1970s CCCBC was the 8th highest CBC in North America. But after the coastal CBCs in Texas, California, Florida, and North Carolina got their acts together our ranking slipped. Every year but one CCCBC has found the most species in Virginia.

Early on we ate dinner at Paul’s Restaurant in Cheriton, where all the food was produced locally. Our headquarters was Peacock Motor Inn, which served breakfast. ESVNWR was an Air Force radar facility. Fisherman Island was the Navy’s. What would become Kiptopeke State Park belonged to wheeler and dealer John Maddox. 

Roy Bull, one of the first major collectors of decoys, put us onto Lynwood Horner, who would be our excellent guide and boatman for decades. A later guide, who I would have been glad to recommend, shot and killed a fellow waterman. There’s been some adventures and vagaries. More are to come.
Coming Up in Butterflies – March 2019
By Jim Easton

Sixteen species of butterflies make their first local appearance in the month of March. Jim has shared a few of his stunning photos.

Be on the lookout for:

Family Papillonidea-Swallowtails:  
  • Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)
  • Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)
  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
  • Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Family Pieridae-Whites and Sulphurs:
  • Checkered White (Pontia protodice)
  • Falcate Orangetip (Anthocaris midea)

Family Lycaenidae-Gossamer-winged Butterflies:
  • Henry’s Elfin (Callophrys henrici
  • White-M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album)
  • Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

Family Nymphalidae-Brush-footed Butterflies:
  • Variegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia)
  • Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)
  • Red-spotted Purple (Limentitis arthemis astyanax)
  • Gemmed Satyr (Cyllopsis gemma)

Family Hesperiidae-Spread-wing Skippers:
  • Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades)
  • Juvenal’s Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis)
  • Common Checkered-skipper (Pyrgus communis)
Gemmed Satyr by Jim Easton
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail by Jim Easton
Gray Hairstreak by Jim Easton
Common Checkered Skipper by Jim Easton
Our Wish List…
Every non-profit has a wish list! CVWO cannot afford every “need or want” for our teams in the field. Often supporters and friends have exactly what we need, and they are willing to donate it. Do you have a john boat and trailer that’s gathering dust and pollen? One of our teams monitoring Prothonotary Warblers on the Northwest River wants to upgrade from a scanoe to a more substantial john boat. Let us know if you have a boat and trailer you’d like to loan or donate (for a tax deduction!). Contact President Brian Taber . He would love to hear from you.
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!
Question Mark butterfly by Jim Easton

Beginning in 2019, the blog will highlight butterflies by month, thanks to guest-blogger Jim Easton. If you would like to participate in butterfly surveys, check out the Blog and other announcements on this website.