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Walker Nature Center

A LOOK INSIDE • Calendar 4 • Kids’ Corner 6 • Nature Trunk 7 • Halloween House 8


Nature Notes SEPTEMBER Reston Has Bats, Man By Pam Findley

• • • •

Eastern Box Turtle eggs hatch. Partridgeberry and Winterberry shrubs have red berries. White-tailed Deer bucks rub velvet off antlers. Black Gum tree leaves turn red.

OCTOBER • • • •

Songbird and Monarch butterfly migrations are underway. Dogwood leaves turn red while Hickory and Tulip Tree leaves turn gold. Black Rat Snakes and Northern Water Snakes seek hibernation dens. Brown-eyed Susans are in bloom.

NOVEMBER • • • •

American Hollies have bright red berries. Kinglets and Hermit Thrushes return. Redbud trees have long seed pods. Frogs and turtles are burrowing.

By Susan Sims

Fast, furry and a folklore favorite, bats are unique to the mammal kingdom. Sometimes called flying mice, they are not related to rodents but are part of the order Chiroptera meaning “hand-wing” in Greek. They are the only mammal that truly flies. During this time of year, they are getting ready to migrate or hibernate. Bats use flight along with their ability to echolocate to hunt insects at night, capturing their prey with their wing or tail membranes and eating it in flight. This feat is impressive since some species fly up to 40 mph! That’s like a human eating a buffet while leaping from a trapeze. Bats serve an important ecological role because of their insect consumption. In the United States, bat control of agricultural pests is well documented and has an estimated value of $3.7 billion.

Research into their impact on mosquito populations and public health are on-going. While part of their diet, mosquito control by bats has sometimes been overstated, based on the study of bats in confined laboratory spaces. While it is possible for a bat to consume 10 or more mosquitoes per minute, there’s not much nutritional value in skeeters. There are “meatier” catches like beetles, moths and wasps. Some bat species prefer nectar, pollen or fruit and act as pollinators in the western United States, Latin America and Asia. Studies, which look at bats in the wild and have been published in peer-reviewed literature, find that mosquitoes constitute about 1-3% of their diet.

Continued on page 2

Fall | 19 | Volume Twenty One

Reston Has Bats, Man continued from page 1


Bats are opportunistic feeders that exhibit a highly varied diet and forage sympatrically to avoid competition with other bat species. For example, in Reston our most common Big Brown Bat loves crunchy beetles while the Eastern Red Bat focuses on juicy moths.

11450 Glade Drive, Reston, VA 20191 Enjoy year-round access to trails, free parking and restroom facilities dawn to dusk.

Big Brown Bats are habitat generalists. They can live under tree bark, beneath bridges or even in attics. Eastern Red Bats are tree dwellers and prefer to roost away from human habitats. Local female bats give birth to one to two pups a year usually around June, and baby bats are ready to fly within four to six weeks.


72 acres of forested land, a picnic pavilion, demonstration gardens, educational signage, a campfire ring, two streams, a pond, the entrance to 44-acre Lake Audubon and an interpretive green building, known as Nature House.

Even though bats are fantastic hunters they do have predators. Hawks and owls prey on bats, as will raccoons or snakes that access their roosts during daytime. Housecats have been known to stalk bats, play with them and kill them, but don’t typically consume them. Human encroachment and construction also impact bat habitat.

Tall Tales and the Truth NATURE HOUSE HOURS

Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays Saturday 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Sunday 1–4 p.m.

Bats are often the subject of embellished tales, including that they are vampires, they’re blind, and they’re harbingers of disease. Is this true? Immediately, let’s rule out vampires! There are no Vampire Bats in Reston, and even those don’t turn into Bela Lugosi. The same goes with the blindness claim. It may have originated from their tendency to fly back and forth as they track their prey. Actually, bats have good eyesight. Another falsehood is that bats seek out or get caught in human hair.


Sept. 2 Labor Day Oct. 14 Columbus Day Nov. 11 Veterans Day Nov. 21-22 Thanksgiving


703-476-9689 • www.reston.org naturecenter@reston.org www.facebook.com/walkernaturecenter @restonnature @walkernaturecenter Groups: Please call ahead to arrange your visit. Branching Out is a quarterly publication of the Walker Nature Center (WNC), owned and operated by Reston Association. The mission of the WNC is to foster an environmental stewardship ethic in the community. It is named after Reston’s first Open Space and Nature Center Director, Vernon J. Walker. Branching Out is printed on 100 percent recycled paper using soy ink. It is produced using 100 percent wind power. Please recycle.


So what about bats and disease? Unfortunately, there is a bit of truth to this tale. Although uncommon, bats can carry rabies. The National Park Service estimates that less than 1% of bats are rabid. Rabies is transferred through bodily fluids and can infect humans. If a bat gets in your house, it is best to isolate it in a room (preferably one with an escape option like an open door or window). If it does not exit on its own, contact a professional to remove it. Do not touch the bat, and any suspected contact should be reported to a physician. If bats are getting into your home, inspect the eaves and attic spaces for openings. Exclusion of bats is done with screens, netting or funnels once the bats have flown out at night so they can leave but not return. Make sure to exclude the bats after maternity season or you risk infant bats perishing indoors. Coordinate with a bat removal professional to ensure safe and appropriate techniques.

White-nose Syndrome

Spreading throughout the United States and Canada, White-nose Syndrome (WNS) is a great concern for bat species. This fungal disease is not transferable to humans but has caused devastating population declines, especially for the Little Brown Bat and Tri-colored Bat. These bats are identified as rare in the 2018 Reston Association State of the Environment Report (RASER), even though the Little Brown Bat was once Reston’s most abundant bat. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Little Brown Bats have declined by 90% statewide. The state bat of Virginia, the Virginia Big-eared Bat, has also been hit hard by the disease.

The disease gets its name from the white fungus that grows on sick bats’ faces. The illness interrupts hibernation causing dehydration, depletion of fat reserves and ultimately starvation. If spelunking is your thing, please avoid winter cave visits when bats are most vulnerable to the disease. Humans often unknowingly transfer the fungus. Also decontaminate caving gear and shoes after visiting a cave, and observe any off-limit areas. Bats clearly have a positive ecological impact, but they’ve also contributed in countless ways to science. Bat echolocation has led to advances in ultrasounds, autonomous sensors and wireless communication. Bats are species worthy of respect and in need of conservation. So when the bats fly over your backyard or our parks, please take time to think about how they lend a helping “hand-wing” to humans.

Please and Thank You By Katie Shaw Volunteers and donors play essential roles in Nature Center operations and environmental stewardship in Reston. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who helped with summer activities, including the annual Wildlife Counts and the Fairy Festival. This fall, we will need lots of help at our Halloween event. If you’d like to get involved, contact Volunteer Reston Manager habrock@reston.org or fill out the volunteer application at www.reston.org. Charitable donations are gratefully received by our 501c3 supporting organization, Friends of Reston, 11450 Glade Drive, Reston, VA 20191 or donate online at www.friendsofreston.org. Add a note that your donation is for the Nature Center. You will receive a letter for tax purposes.


Freddie Mac, Friends of Reston, Reston Garden Club

Bird Backpacks-Check One Out It’s free, fun and educational.

Kids, hit the trails on your journey to discover more about our feathered friends, the birds. Each backpack is filled with cool stuff like binoculars, sound cards, field guides, games and a takehome Bird Sleuth Guide. Backpacks must be signed out by an adult, used on-site and returned at the end of your hike.

Funded by Audubon Society of Northern Virginia and Friends of Reston.


Swetha Balanchandiran; Joanne & David Bauer; Matt Bender; Sue Bidwell; Julie & Charlie Bond; Bill Brown; Kenneth Bowman; Bill Burton; Virginia Busby; Anne Cannizzaro; Ian Carmack; Fabiana Cesa; Don Coram; Norma, Isabelle D’Achille; Alex & Harry de Beer; Freya De Cola; Marilyn Dicke; Jody Douglas; Robin Duska; Sarah Eddins; Danielle & Jacqueline Elliott; Bill Errico; June Ferrara; Kathleen Freeman; Linda Fuller; Martha Furniss; Martha Garcia; Mary Beth Gardiner; Keith Good; Maya & Ryan Gray; Janine Greenwood; Neal Grunstra; Carol & Jay Hadlock; Ed Hass; Ethan Jabra; Ana Ka’ahanui; Diane Kalaly; Jennie Koffman; Helaine Krob; Nico Landenburg; John & Heidi Lankau; Elise Larsen; Pat Lenz; Paulette Lincoln-Baker; Tracy Long; Karen Mayberry; Sharon McHugh; Jim McNeal; Farideh Mirmirani; Adit Nehra; Cynthia O’Connell; Erika Olimpiew; Terri Ostrowski; Barbara Paolucci; Ellen Perrins; Sara Piper; Matt Pantucci; Sheryl Pollock; Sina Saadati; Kim Schauer; Dana Scheibe; Jim Seret; Shriya Sirivolu; Surekha Sridhar; Mireya Stirzaker; BJ Thomas; Renee Trad; Brenda Van Doorn; Verna Webb; Owen Williams; Koaw Zaczek

“Thanks to the Dragonfly Count volunteers and guest leader, Don Coram. 390 dragonflies of 13 species were observed.”


WALKER NATURE Register online with WebTrac www.restonwebtrac.org

All programs will be held at the Walker Nature Center, 11450 Glade Drive, unless otherwise noted. Refunds are available with two weeks’ notice or if we cancel for any reason. Activities may be canceled due to severe weather, severe weather warnings or low enrollment. Children must be accompanied by an adult.


Learn how owls catch their prey and what an owl pellet is. Unravel the contents of an owl pellet for a hootin’ good time. Register by September 5. 306011008 9/8 Sun 2:00–3:00 pm Adults and Children 5+ $5/RA Member, $7/Non-member



Make a raccoon mask and tail craft, then dress up like a raccoon to go in search of what a raccoon needs to survive. Explore the forest to look for food, water and shelter that is just right for this furry, forest creature. Learn silly songs about our rascal raccoon friends. Register by September 11.

As temperatures and leaves begin to drop, cozy up to a crackling campfire. Sing songs, hear stories and enjoy the change of seasons. Roast a hot dog and enjoy a tasty s’more. Park on Soapstone Drive between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. Register by September 24.

306121008 Sat Ages 3-5

9/14 10:30–11:30 am $6/RA Member, $8/Non-member


Fall is when leaves put on a delightful color show. Look at leaves of different sizes and shapes along the trails, and discover how they will change. Make a colorful leaf craft and bring some nature magic into your home. Register by September 6. 306111001 9/9 Mon 10:00–11:00 am Or Tue 9/10 10:00–11:00 am Ages 18-35 months $7/RA Member, $9/Non-member BATS OF RESTON

See a presentation on Reston’s bats, then take a stroll to Lake Audubon to look for them. Scan the sky for this amazing, flying mammal and use a bat monitor to detect bat traffic. Learn the latest from the bat world and enjoy some evening wildlife. Register by September 10. 306011008 9/13 Fri 7:00–8:30 pm All Ages $5/RA Member, $7/Non-member


Join a naturalist and some golf course enthusiasts to learn about the natural resources and experiences that this valuable open space provides. Look for a variety of birds, and visit field, forest and pond habitats. Co-sponsored by Rescue Reston. Meet at Golf Course Island Pool, 11301 Links Drive. Register by September 20. 406201007 9/23 Mon 10:00 am–12:00 pm Adults Free FERMENTATION — SAUERKRAUT WORKSHOP

Learn about this ancient technique, then practice it by making a jar of your own sauerkraut to take home. Oktoberfest is the perfect time of year to discover this recipe. Guest presenter: Katie Strong, Virginia Cooperative Extension. Register by September 22. 306201012 Wed Adults


9/25 6:00–8:30 pm $20/RA Member, $25/Non-member

306011003 9/27 Fri 6:30–8:00 pm WNC Fire Ring on Soapstone Drive between Glade Dr. and Lawyers Rd. All Ages $7/RA Member, $9/Non-member


Caramel apples, corn husk crafts, smells of cinnamon and spices. What fall traditions does your family have? Celebrate the natural delights of the season with some Nature Center favorites. Register by October 3. 406011012 10/6 Sun 2:00–3:00 pm All Ages $8/RA Member, $10/Non-member LI’L PUMPKINS HALLOWEEN PARTY

Join the Halloween bash that’s perfect for toddlers. Wear your costume on a walk along the trails. Meet a couple of fun characters and a real Corn Snake. Paint a pumpkin and collect a goody bag to take home. No frights at this fest! Register by October 4. 406111001 Mon 10/7 10:00–11:00 am OR Tue 10/8 10:00–11:00 am Ages 18-35 months $7/RA Member, $9/Non-member

E CENTER CALENDAR OCTOBER BIRD WALK: BRIGHT POND 10/13 Sun 7:30–10:30 am Meet in the cul-de-sac at the end of Bright Pond Lane. Adults Free STEAM WORKSHOP — HALLOWEEN SCIENCE

Get ready for Halloween by learning some tricks and science thrills that are sure to impress your friends and family. Make a pumpkin that fizzes and a candy pumpkin catapult. Discover how to bend a bone and bounce an egg. Launch a ghost rocket and look for creepy critters on a walk through the woods. Register by October 11. 406131012 10/14 Mon 10:00–11:30 am Ages 5-12 $6/RA Member, $8/Non-member HALLOWEEN HOUSE AND TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL Oct. 25-26 See page 8. Advance tickets only.



Turn the Thanksgiving table into a science experiment with some new activities! Make popcorn right off the cob and shake up some homemade butter. Learn why some corn is colorful and meet a Corn Snake. Engineer a cranberry structure. Form stamps out of potatoes and create a festive masterpiece. Register by November 1. 406131012 11/4 Mon 10:00–11:30 am Ages 5-12 $7/RA Member, $9/Non-member FUR, FEATHERS AND FINS

As people pull on warm clothes, animals also need to stay warm as temperatures drop. Feel furs and feathers and discover what else keeps an animal from getting cold. Make a feathery craft and look for animals in the woods and around the pond. Register by November 6. 406121008 11/9 Sat 10:30–11:30 am Ages 3-5 $6/RA Member, $8/Non-member


Learn why bats are important, what they eat and where you find them. Make a bat craft. Play a fun game to learn about echolocation. Then, stroll through the forest to find hidden bats. Register by October 16. 406121008 Sat Ages 3-5

10/19 10:30–11:30 am $ 6/RA Member, $8/Non-member


Start your holiday season with this festive workshop. Make a beautiful centerpiece with native plant materials and four simple napkin rings for your Thanksgiving table ($1 per additional ring). Enjoy mulled cider and seasonal music as we work. All supplies provided. When making reservations, include the number of people and how many centerpieces you wish to make. Register by November 13.

BIRD WALK: LOWER GLADE STREAM VALLEY Sun 11/17 7:30 am–10:30 am Park on Glade Drive near Twin Branches Road Adults Free, no registration required NUTTY FOR NUTS

In fall, many animals are on the hunt for nuts. Learn why nuts are so important to our furry neighbors while they are getting ready for winter. Make a craft and go on a short hike to see the variety of nuts we can find. Register by November 9.

406111001 11/12 Tue 10:00 am–11:00 am OR Wed 11/13 10:00 am–11:00 am Ages 18-35 months $7/RA Member, $9/Non-member TURKEY TRAIL

Let’s get moving after your big Thanksgiving meal. Sharpen your skills of logic as you follow clues from a “wild” turkey to see where they lead you. Discover more about these fascinating birds. Register by November 27. 406011012 11/30 Sat 11:00 am–Noon All Ages $5/RA Member, $7/Non-member

406011012 11/16 Sat 10:30 am–Noon or 1–2:30 pm All Ages $25/centerpiece RA Member, $30/centerpiece Non-member


Orange Bird Feeder Materials

Orange Small Knife Twine Bird seed

Instructions: 1. Ask an adult to help you with this project. Ask them to cut an orange in half. Then cut out the edible part of the orange or use a juicer to remove the soft inside part from the rind. 2. Once you have an empty rind, have the adult make four holes in the side of the orange with pairs of holes opposite one another (think north, south, east and west). 3. Cut two long strands of twine. Feed one strand through one pair of opposite holes. Repeat with the other strand through the pair of open holes. Tie the ends of the strands together so that the orange half will hang like a basket. 4. Hang the orange “feeder” on a branch. Fill the orange cup with bird seed and watch for birds (and maybe squirrels) to come enjoy the seed.

Store It Up

By Earl the Squirrel (with help from Abby Stocking)

“A penny saved is a penny earned” is a saying that I’ve heard some humans use. I think it means that if you put some of your money in a piggy bank it will be there when you need it. We squirrels don’t need to save pennies. So we prefer to say, “An acorn saved is an acorn guarded.” You see, in the winter it is very hard for animals to find a decent meal. Most of the good berries are gone, and it is nearly impossible to find delicate flowers or yummy insects to nosh on. We are left with foods that are hearty like nuts to get us through these hard months. To help make sure we can find what we need, many of us store food. My family stays busy in the fall hiding nuts under the dirt. When winter comes, we use our noses to find where we hid the acorns, then we dig up a tasty treat.


Help the chipmunk carry another seed to its stash.

My close cousins, the Eastern Chipmunks, are other animals that store food. They fill pouches inside their cheeks with nuts and seeds to carry into their burrows, which are underground homes. They have special tunnel rooms where they store the seeds. When winter comes, chipmunks close the entrances to their tunnels and stay below ground for most of the winter. They will eat the food they’ve gathered. Many birds also store seeds. Chickadees, nuthatches and jays may grab seeds from your feeders and quickly fly off. Often they are taking the seeds to hundreds of different hiding spots around the forest. A chickadee can remember where thousands of seeds are hidden and which hiding spots have already been used up. Each fall the chickadee’s brain grows new parts to help its memory keep track of all this information. I sure wish my brain did that. We animals want to say thank you to the humans who protect and plant important trees that provide nuts like oaks and hickories, or who put out seeds in bird feeders. There are many of us who will enjoy the snacks they provide now, or we may “squirrel” them away for another day.


Kids’ Corner

Native Shrub

SALE Beautiful gardens and healthy woodlands have vibrant shrub layers. If you’ve had trouble finding native shrubs, pre-order some Nature Center favorites and enjoy the savings. Place orders by Friday, September 27, 5 p.m. Pick up on Saturday, October 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Species will include deer-resistant species. Contact naturecenter@reston.org for a plant list and order form or click on the Quick Link at www.restonwebtrac.org to shop online.

On loan to teachers and youth group leaders. Bring environmental education to your classroom while meeting Virginia SOL requirements. Each trunk is a treasure chest filled with audio-visual materials, equipment for hands-on learning and activity guides, customized to Reston. Insect Trunk (Grades K-3) Songbird Blues Trunk (Grades 2-4) Tree Trunk (Grades K-3 or 4-6) Watershed Trunk (Grades 3-6)

Free for Reston schools/groups, $25 for non-Reston schools/groups

Contact 703-435-6518 or naturecenter@reston.org. Funding provided by Dominion Energy, Friends of Reston and The Sallie Mae Fund.



www.reston.org Walker Nature Center 11450 Glade Drive Reston, Virginia 20191

You’re invited to the best family-friendly Halloween event this side of Transylvania.



RAIN OR SHINE Walker Nature Center 11450 Glade Drive

Ages 3 to Adult

Children must be accompanied by a ticketed adult at all times. Children under 1 do not require a ticket and must be carried in a baby carrier.


You may check-in up to 15 minutes prior to your start time. Please park along Glade Drive or at Glade Pool, and bring a flashlight.

Choose a date & start time: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25 6:00 PM 6:30 PM 7:00 PM

7:30 PM

8:00 PM

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26 6:00 PM 6:30 PM 7:00 PM

7:30 PM

8:00 PM

This is NOT a horror show or a haunted house. Meet a creative cast of characters, including real animals, along our nature themed Trick-or-Treat Trail and inside our Nature House turned Halloween House for this very special evening. Enjoy jack-o-lanterns, carnival style games, sound and light effects and creatures of the night. Participants are encouraged to wear non-scary costumes and enjoy the activities at their own self- guided pace.

Online advance tickets only. Buy tickets at www.restonwebtrac.org. See Quick Links.

FEE: RA $12 NON-RA $15

Each ticket time is one-hour long. Ticket price includes a Trick-or-Treat bag. No refunds. RA Members sales begins on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 9 a.m. Non-member sales begins on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 9 a.m.

For more information, call 703-476-9689 and press 5 or email naturecenter@reston.org.

Winter Volume Twenty | 1918/19 | Volume Fall Twenty One

Profile for Reston Association

Branching Out Fall 2019  

WNC Newsletter

Branching Out Fall 2019  

WNC Newsletter