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Walker Nature Center

A LOOK INSIDE • Wildlife Counts 3 • Calendar of Events 4 • Kids’ Corner 6 • Film Fest 7


Nature Notes Great Blues JUNE By Sharon Gurtz

• • • •

Northern Red-backed Salamanders lay eggs. American Toads are adults and leave the water. Butterfly Weed, Bee Balm and Common Milkweed bloom. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Viceroy and Wood Nymph butterflies are seen.

JULY • • • •

Black Rat Snakes lay eggs. Cardinal Flower and Jewelweed bloom. Fireflies and bats are active in the night sky. Monarch and Red Admiral butterflies arrive.

AUGUST • • • •

Annual Cicadas can be heard. Eastern Box Turtle young hatch. Last of the summer bird broods fledge. Blue Lobelia, asters and goldenrod bloom.

By Ken Rosenthal

Despite their somewhat secretive nature, Great Blue Herons are hard to miss. They stand more than four feet tall with a long, gray neck ending in a white head with black plumes. Back and wing feathers are a grayish-blue, lending to their name. In flight their 6-foot wingspan and S-shaped neck make them easy to identify. Yet many people are shocked that they are found in Reston especially in the numbers we have. Beauty aside, the Great Blue Heron uses fascinating adaptations to capture and eat its prey. Typically found in lakes, ponds, wetlands and other aquatic habitats, they feed on the animals one would expect: fish, amphibians, reptiles, crayfish and other aquatic creatures. Like most herons, Great Blues are generalists and will eat other species if the opportunity arises. They have been recorded preying on Black Rails (a small wading bird) and are well-documented as predators of voles and other small rodents. A simple Google search will produce video of a Great Blue Heron stalking through a backyard before plunging its beak into the soil to capture a pocket gopher, which it promptly consumes. Slow and Steady Different herons have different methods for foraging. Some actively pursue fish through shallow water. Others try to flush their prey into view with foot movements. Great Blues use their long legs to stalk prey in shallow water, or among emergent vegetation along shores and in wetlands. Continued on page 2

Summer 15 Volume Seventeen

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


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.


Monday–Friday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays

Saturday 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Sunday 1–4 p.m. Closed July 3 Independence Day observed


703-476-9689 • www.reston.org naturecenter@reston.org www.facebook.com/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.


Great Blues Continued from page 1 Long thin toes help them maintain their balance while keeping disturbance of water and sediments to a minimum. They stalk slowly, neck coiled in anticipation. Great Blues can often be seen standing very still, intently focused on a promising patch of water or grass. When prey does appear, they use their neck to propel their head forward, grabbing their prey with their long bill. Despite its spear-like appearance, Great Blues are more likely to use their bill to grasp prey instead of impale it. Sticking Your Neck Out Great Blues have more cervical (neck) vertebrae than humans, allowing their neck more flexibility. A modification of the sixth cervical vertebra allows the heron to draw its neck back into their characteristic S-Shape. Great Blues use this shape to coil their neck before striking out at prey. This S-shape also makes them more aerodynamic during flight. Inside their neck one finds the most interesting adaptation. The neck bones are in an even more exaggerated S-shape, hugging the back of the neck above the bend and running along the front of the neck below the bend. Think of a car going through an S-curve in the road, hugging the outer bend on the first curve, then changing lanes to hug the outer bend on the second curve, thereby covering the longest distance possible through the curves. Conversely, the esophagus and trachea do just the opposite to travel the shortest possible distance. They run behind the lower neck bones and are protected from possible damage if the lower neck should be jolted during foraging. Self-cleaning Feathers Birds have different types of feathers that are used for different functions. Long, rigid feathers on the wings and tail are used in flight. Contour feathers line the body, providing benefits like insulation and waterproofing. Down feathers can be found under contour feathers. Their fluffy structure traps warm air against the bird to prevent heat loss. All herons, including the Great Blue, have patches of powder-down feathers. Powder-down feathers disintegrate to powder over time. Great Blues use this powder during preening to trap and remove substances like fish slime and algae that accumulate on their feathers from their foraging activities. They use a comb-like structure on their middle toe to spread this powder on their feathers. The health of Great Blue Heron populations, and that of their cousins, is inextricably linked to clean water and preservation of their aquatic and wetland environments. Heron populations were in danger at the beginning of the 20th century as a result of the desire for bird plumes in fashion trends. Many species’ populations are healthier now, though habitat loss is still a continuing threat. Supporting initiatives that preserve or even create wetland areas will help protect Great Blue Herons, as well as the hundreds of other species that share the same habitats. In Reston, look for Great Blues at all four lakes, along the stream valleys and in beautiful Sunrise Valley Wetland Park.

Wildlife Counts & Classes

Adults, ages 16 and over. Counts are free. Classes are $5 or free for count participants. Classes are a great way to prepare for the counts.

Unless otherwise noted, meet at the nature center. Volunteers are invited to enjoy a free lunch, tally results and swap stories at Nature House after the Bird and Butterfly Counts. There will be a break for lunch during the Dragonfly Count.

Bird Class: An Introduction Wednesday, June 3 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Learn the basics of bird identification, and how to look and listen for the common birds of Reston. Discover the major groups of birds and the best places to watch for them. Discuss a variety of bird guides, and take home a Checklist of Birds of Reston. Reservations required by June 1.

Summer Bird Count Saturday, June 6 6:45 a.m. - Noon

Meet local bird experts, learn tips on identification and have fun while helping us obtain important information to help our feathered friends. Reservations required by June 3.

Butterfly Class: An Introduction Thursday, July 9 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Discover the colorful and diverse lives of Reston’s “flying flowers”. Learn how to identify Reston’s common butterflies, and get a basic introduction to their life history. Reservations required by July 6.

Dragonfly Class: An Introduction Thursday, July 16 7 - 8:30 p.m.

Learn about the fast and fascinating lives of Reston’s “flying dragons”. Join guest naturalist Kevin Munroe of the Fairfax County Park Authority as he focuses on basic identification, natural history and conservation of local dragonflies. Learn to identify Reston’s common dragonflies, and get a basic introduction to their bizarre behavior and complex history. Reservations required by July 13.

Dragonfly Count Sunday, July 19 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Meet at Bright Pond - Park at the end of the Bright Pond Lane cul-de-sac. Join local dragonfly experts, learn tips on identification and have fun while helping to obtain important information on our fast-flying friends. Reservations required by July 16.

Butterfly Count

Saturday, July 11 9:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Meet fellow butterfly lovers, learn tips on identification and have fun while helping to collect important information on our fluttering friends. Data will be submitted to the North American Butterfly Association for their national 4th of July Butterfly Count report. Reservations required by July 9.

Photo by: Bryan Peters

A World of Thanks By Katie Shaw, Manager

Springtime sure kept us busy. We are grateful beyond words for the more than 300 individuals and organizations listed below! The sense of community has never been stronger, and our spring thank you list has never been longer.

Spring Donors:

All Beaded Up; Beloved Yoga; Better Said Than Done; Canoe, Kayak & Paddle Company; Cardinal Bank; Chadwick, Moriarty, Elmore & Bunn, P.C.; Dogfish Head Alehouse; Fairfax Screen Printing; Glory Days Grill; Great Harvest Bread Company; Noel & Karin Hamilton; Hand & Stone; Harris Teeter; Bonnie Haukness; Nancy & Craig Herwig; Jim Kirby Photography; Geoffrey Lipsey; Lucia’s Italian Ristorante; MassagePro; Mon Ami Gabi; Potomac River Running; Reston Community Center; Reston Garden Club; Reston Runners; Reston Sprint Triathlon; Richard P. Slater Financial Planning Services; Surf Reston; Pam Tobey; Lisandrea & Thomas Wentland, Jr.; and all 145 participants in the 12th Annual Nature House 5K!

Spring Volunteers:

Smah Abuagla; Amman & Farris Ahmad; Dan Allen; AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corp; Faith Huddleston Anderson; Chris Andia; Ken Andrews; David & Joanne Bauer; John Beach; Sue Beffel; Matt Bender; Angelie Benn; Pierce Berry; Malaya Bleeker; David Blood; Julie, Charlie, Olivia & Ben Bond; Bill Brown; Indy Bui; Melanie Butler; Sophia Calandra; Christine & Jonathan Caldwell; Anne Cannizzaro; Karen & Emma Cantwell; Chantilly Key Club; Cub Scout Pack 913, Den 4; Hiwot & Kalkidan Dagnachew; Janice Davila; Freya De Cola; Jean DeFilippi; Michael Delillio; Carol DelPilar; Drew Denikin; Marilyn Dicke; Harvey & Sophia Dietz; Yohannes Difle; Aurelia Dinoso; Ellen Douglas; Janna Ehrhardt; Ru Ellis; Ivar Espinoza; Manaal Farhan; Sherry Feng; June Ferrara; Emoni Galloway; Dianne Ge; Girl Scout Troop 237; Janine Greenwood; Rini Gupta; Carol & Jay Hadlock; Hurmat Hamdani; Bonnie Haukness; Alison Hempel; Nancy Herwig; Mildred Hollis; Wenlin Hsu; Brigitta Hulmann; Lori Hutcherson; Arlo & Kristin Irving; Carol Ivory; William Johnson; Melissa Jun; Rohan Kapur; Joseph Karam; Mason & Plamer Kasprowicz; Rachel Kindell; Leon Kolankiewicz; Helaine Krob; Carin Lamberty; Megan Latif; Trevor Lattimore; Jennette Le; Richard Lee; Pat Lenz; Aloha & Sonia Ley; Patrick Lichy; Dale Lichtblau; Paulette Lincoln-Baker; Paige Linkins; Amanda Lowe; Richard McClellan; Sharon McHugh; Kurt McJilton; Jim & Ilene McNeal; Girl Scout Troop 237; Merritt Group; Miye Wire; Colston Moder; Samuel Monge; Ayako Moore; Bob Mowbray; Katelyn Murray; Tenzin Namgyel; Polly Noble; Molly O’Boyle; Angelique Nicholson; Bill O’Brien; Terri Ostrowski; George Paine; Barbara Paolucci; Mireya Pasa; Tayseer Pathan; Barbara Pelzner; Ellen Perrins; Bryan Peters; Michelle Phan; Prathana Plya; Raymond James Financial Services; Razorsight; Jonathan Reed; Jessica Robinson; Maria Rodriguez; Viviana Rosas; Olivia Rose; Ben Roth; Bobbi Ruddy; Ambika Sankaran; Eveleen Sass; Dana & Mike Scheurer; JoAnn Shaub; James Stamper; Ana Stanisavljev; Margo Sterling; Emma Stiglitz; Caroline & Claire Stock; Katie Strong; Dave Tervonen; Lori Thomas; Alyssa Ton; John Tran; Cathy Tunis; Colena Turner; Brenda Van Doorn; Glenn Walker; Verna Webb; Jobo Wesley; Jason Wetstone; Theresia Yafi; Maynur Yasin; Adora Zhang



SOLAR OVEN WORKSHOP Sunday, June 7 ∙ 2 - 4 p.m. $7/RA or RCC member $9/Non-member Adults and children 10+ years

Solar ovens use sunlight to slow cook or warm foods without electricity or other fuel. Join us for a cooking demonstration and build a simple oven to take home for your yard or next camping trip. Supplies and recipes provided. Co-sponsored by Reston Community Center. Reservations required by June 3. DARING DRAGONFLIES Monday, June 8 ∙ 10 - 11 a.m. OR Tuesday, June 9 ∙ 10 - 11 a.m. $7/child RA members ∙ $9/child Non-members Ages 18 months to 35 months

Dragonflies are fierce aerial predators, catching other flying insects as their prey. See how a dragonfly sees, using its large eyes to find food. Make your own dragonfly to take home. View dragonflies in action at the pond. Reservations required by June 3. WALKING STICK WORKSHOP Friday, June 12 ∙ 7 - 8 p.m. $7/child RA members ∙ $9/child Non-members Ages 5 to 12

School’s almost out, and it’s time to explore new territory. Make a walking stick that can travel with you on your next hike. Choose a perfect stick, make a leather grip, and add your name or initials. All supplies included. Reservations required by June 9. BUSHELS OF BEETLES Saturday, June 13 ∙ 11 a.m. - Noon $6/person RA members ∙ $8/person Non-members All ages

PLANTS AS HERBAL REMEDIES Sunday, June 14 ∙ 1:30 - 3 p.m. $6/person RA members ∙ $8/person Non-members Adults

Many common plants have been recognized for therapeutic properties. Explore some traditional uses as well as some modern day research. There will be a presentation followed by a plant walk. Guest presenter: Lori Thomas. Reservations required by June 11. OWL PROWL Thursday, June 18 ∙ 7 - 8:30 p.m. $7/person RA members ∙ $9/person Non-members All ages

Meet a wildlife rehabilitator from the Raptor Conservancy to view live owls native to Virginia. Afterwards prowl trails along The Glade Stream Valley in search of resident owls. Reservations required by June 15. FISHING WITH FATHERS Saturday, June 20 ∙ 10:30 a.m. - Noon $7/person RA members ∙ $9/person Non-members All ages

Take Dad fishing to celebrate Father’s Day. Join us at Lake Audubon to learn fish facts, fishing basics and practice casting. We’ll provide rods and bait. Those 16 and older wishing to fish will need a fishing license available online at www.dgif.virginia.gov. Reservations required by June 17. LAKE ANNE BY CANOE/KAYAK Friday, June 26 ∙ 6:30 - 8 p.m. $6/RA or RCC member $8/Non-member Lake Anne Public Boat Docks - Washington Plaza in the Lake Anne Village Center Adults and children 10+ years

Beetles are the largest group of insects, and they come in a dazzling array of sizes, shapes and colors. Meet live beetles and decorate your own bug box to take home. Go on a short hike to discover the different places that beetles live. Reservations required by June 10.

Explore Lake Anne from a different perspective. Paddling is a leisurely and enjoyable way of getting up close to waterfowl, fish and turtles that seem far away from shore. Learn about lake ecology and what you can do to help the lake and its aquatic wildlife. Co-sponsored by Reston Community Center. Reservations required by June 23.

BIRD WALK: LOWER GLADE STREAM VALLEY Sunday, June 14 ∙ 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. ∙ Free Park on Glade Drive at Twin Branches Road. Adults, Leaders: Joanne & David Bauer

INTRODUCTION TO WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY Saturday, June 27 ∙ 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. $10/person RA members ∙ $15/person Non-members Adults


Join local photographer John Eppler to learn how to photograph wildlife in your backyard. Discuss setting up your backyard to attract wildlife. Learn about what equipment and settings to use. Go outside to apply what you have learned. Be sure to bring your camera. Reservations required by June 24.

July BOX TURTLES Monday, July 6 ∙ 10 - 11 a.m. OR Tuesday, July 7 ∙ 10 - 11 a.m. $7/child RA members ∙ $9/child Non-members Hunters Woods Pavilion - 2501 Reston Parkway, park at Hunters Woods Pool Ages 18 months to 35 months

Meet a box turtle up close. Learn why they are called “box” turtles, what they eat and where they live. Make a craft to take home. Enjoy a snack while reading Box Turtle at Long Pond. Reservations required by July 1. FIREFLIES IN JULY Friday, July 10 ∙ 7:30 - 9 p.m. $7/person RA members ∙ $9/person Non-members Brown’s Chapel - 1575 Brown’s Chapel Road All ages

Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are insects that produce their own light. Discover what makes them glow and why they want to be seen in the darkness. Find out what they eat, how they grow and where they live. Take a short hike in search of flashing fireflies and make a glowing craft. Reservations required by July 7. BIRD WALK: TWIN BRANCHES NATURE TRAIL Sunday, July 12 ∙ 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. • Free Twin Branches Road at Glade Drive Adults, Leader: Jenny Vick HOME FOOD PRESERVATION Tuesday, July 14 ∙ 7 - 8:30 p.m. $5/RA or RCC member $7/Non-member Adults

Learn to preserve your garden’s bounty at this introductory class covering canning, fermentation, drying/dehydration, and freezing. Learn the science behind food preservation, safety precautions, kitchen set up, and jar and equipment prep as well as food and recipe selection.

of Events There will be a “dry” demo of filling jars. Guest Speaker: Katie Strong of the VA Cooperative Extension. Co-sponsored by Reston Community Center. Reservations required by July 11. THE ART OF CAMOUFLAGE Saturday, July 18 ∙ 11 a.m. - Noon $5/person RA members ∙ $7/person Non-members All ages

Some animals blend in, while others take camouflage to amazing levels. From green-colored frogs to moths that resemble bird droppings, there are amazing examples of camouflage right under our noses. Explore the gardens and trails in search of hidden critters. Reservations required by July 15. SENSATIONAL SENSES Saturday, July 25 ∙ 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. $6/person RA members ∙ $8/person Non-members Ages 3 to 5

Bring your nature tools with you to explore life along the trails. Smell a fragrant flower, touch smooth moss, and listen for the birds and bees. See if you can find the colors of the rainbow and use your tastebuds on a tasty snack. Reservations required by July 22. NOISY NATURE CAMPFIRE Friday, July 31 ∙ 7 - 8:30 p.m. $7/person RA members ∙ $9/person Non-members WNC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road All ages

What do crickets, katydids, treefrogs, and owls have in common? They make a lot of noise at night! Discover how they make their sounds, and what all that noise is really for. Enjoy songs, stories and a snack by firelight while we listen for these nocturnal noise-makers. Reservations required by July 28.


CRITTERS IN THE CREEK Monday, August 3 ∙ 10 - 11 a.m. OR Tuesday, August 4 ∙ 10 - 11 a.m. $5/child RA members ∙ $7/child Non-members Buttermilk Creek Nature Trail - 11032 Ring Road, park at Uplands Pool Ages 18 months to 35 months

FAMILY GEOCACHING Saturday, August 15 ∙ 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. $6/RA or RCC member $8/Non-member Adults and children 10+ years

LAKE ANNE BY CANOE/KAYAK Saturday, August 8 ∙ 10 - 11:30 a.m. $6/person RA members ∙ $8/person Non-members Lake Anne Public Boat Docks Ages Adults and children 10+ years

MOTHS BY MOONLIGHT Thursday, August 20 ∙ 8 - 9:30 p.m. $5/person RA members ∙ $7/person Non-members All ages

BIRD WALK: LOWER GLADE STREAM VALLEY Sunday, August 9 ∙ 7:30 - 10:30 a.m. • Free Park on Glade Drive at Twin Branches Road Adults, Leaders: Joanne & David Bauer

STREAM SLOSH Saturday, August 22 ∙ 10:30 a.m. - Noon $5/person RA members ∙ $7/person Non-members All ages

Search the cool waters for frogs, tadpoles, minnows and other creatures. Be ready for a fun hike and a wet time! Wear your wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We will provide nets and buckets. Reservations required by July 29.

Join a naturalist to explore Lake Anne from a different perspective. Paddling is a leisurely and enjoyable way of getting up close to waterfowl, fish and turtles that seem far away from shore. Co-sponsored by Reston Historic Trust. Reservations required by August 5.

KNEE DEEP IN A CREEK Thursday, August 13 ∙ 10 - 11 a.m. OR 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. $5/child RA members ∙ $7/child Non-members WNC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road Ages 3 to 5

Wade in the cool waters of The Glade stream in search of frogs, tadpoles, minnows and other creatures. Be ready for a fun hike and a wet time! Wear your wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We will provide nets and buckets. Reservations required by August 10.

Geocaching is high tech treasure hunting, using a handheld GPS unit to find hidden containers. Bring your GPS device or borrow one of ours. There will be a quick lesson, then you will hit the trails in search of caches (treasures). Each cache will include a green living tip for your family. Find all and collect an ecofriendly prize. Co-sponsored by Reston Community Center. Reservations required by August 12.

Moths are nocturnal insects that are important as pollinators and as a source of food for many animals. See moths at night by use of a light trap and white sheet setup. Learn how to distinguish moths from butterflies, why moths are ecologically important, and how many different shapes and colors they can be. Reservations required by August 17.

Dip into a cool stream to escape the heat of summer. Use a net to search for fish and frogs, and take a peek under rocks to look for insects. Wear your wading shoes and clothes that can get dirty. We’ll provide the nets and buckets. Reservations required by August 19. CAMPFIRE FUN Friday, August 28 ∙ 7 - 8:30 p.m. $7/person RA members ∙ $9/person Non-members WNC Campfire Ring - On Soapstone Drive, between Glade Drive and Lawyers Road. All ages

Summer is winding down. What better way to end the season than around a crackling campfire. Sing songs, tell jokes, play games and roast marshmallows during this evening of old fashioned fun. Reservations required by August 25.

All programs will be held at the Walker Nature Center, 11450 Glade Drive, unless otherwise noted.

Call 703-476-9689 and press 5 or email naturecenter@reston.org for reservations and information. Advanced reservations are required for all fee-based programs. Programs may be canceled in the event of severe weather, severe weather warnings or low enrollment. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.


Who Knows Where the Shadow Goes? Have you ever noticed that the sun appears to move in the sky? The sun is actually in the same place, but the Earth makes a full rotation, or spin, once every 24 hours. Earth’s movement is what causes shadows to move. Try this activity to see how much your shadow moves in a day.

Summer Sun

1. Find a helper who can do this activity with you. 2. Pick a spot on a sidewalk or driveway that will be in the sun for all or most of the day. Stand with your feet together facing your shadow. Using sidewalk chalk, have your helper trace around your feet. 3. Next have your helper trace the outline of your shadow. Write down the time inside this outline. 4. If you want, pick another sunny spot and repeat the steps for your helper. 5. Come back to your spot in 1-2 hours. Step into your traced footprints. Have your helper trace your new shadow. If you have different colors of chalk, try using another color. Mark the time inside this outline. 6. Come back to your shadow throughout the day. Notice how much your shadow moves and changes.

Drawing a Compass

By drawing a line from the top of the head in your first shadow to the top of your head in your second, you will create an approximate east-west line. If you stand with your first shadow (west) on your left, and your second (east) on your right, you will be facing north.

By Earl the Squirrel with help from Abby Stocking What do you think about when you hear the word summer? We squirrels think about raising our young and about the acorns that will be coming soon to the oak trees. You humans may think about camp, vacations or swimming in a watering hole (maybe you call them pools?). No matter what comes to mind, our summer is sure to have one thing in common: some hot days full of sun.

Sun Maze

Can you make it through this sunshine maze? START

The sun is actually a star, the closest one to Earth. The core of the sun is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. (And we think a day over 100 degrees is hot!) Without the sun, there would be no life on our wonderful planet. The sun is the source of light and energy that are needed by living things on Earth. Plants take energy from the sun and change it into food through a process called photosynthesis. This happens in the leaves of the plants. Summer is a great time for plants to make and store food. Though plants generally want all the sunshine they can get, animals can be quite different. For you humans, too much time in the sun burns your skin. That’s why you need to wear sunblock. We squirrels have fur that protects our skin, but it makes us feel very warm on END a hot, sunny day. You may see us spread out with our bellies on the shady ground to cool down. For animals like reptiles, the sun helps them maintain their body temperature. They bask in the sun to warm up, and move to shade or water when they feel too warm. Scales on butterflies’ wings help them collect sunlight that they use to warm their bodies. They have the original solar panels! Although you may feel like you want the sun to go away on those hot “dog” days of summer, just remember that we need the sun to keep our planet healthy. To cool off, try lying in the dirt – it sure helps me!


Kids’ Corner

Project Feeder Watch Update 100 and Still Counting In April, the nature center completed 6 years of participation in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project Feeder Watch Program by counting birds every Wednesday and Thursday (November – early April). We have now submitted over 100 counts for the program. Thirty-four different species of birds have been recorded on count days at the feeders or visible from the observation windows at Nature House. We look forward to continuing our tradition next winter and always welcome your help counting our feathered visitors.

For more information, see www.feederwatch.org.

Native Spotlight: CONEFLOWERS

Rudbeckia spp. By Sharon Gurtz

Coneflowers are members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae), wonderful sun-loving prairie plants adapted to summer gardens. They are easy to grow, spreading readily with good disease and drought resistance. Many coneflowers and Susans are members of the Rudbeckia genus, and if you find the common names confusing, you are not alone. You may be familiar with orange, purple, three-lobed, common or green headed coneflowers or perhaps black-eyed or brown-eyed Susans. These plants are all good native additions to your garden but may be used for blooms at different times of year or in different locations.

Sorting out the Susans

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) This native is considered a biennial or short-lived perennial, blooming after two years. If grown from seed and started early in the year, it can be grown as an annual in this area blooming later in the season. There has been extensive breeding and many cultivars with some being more perennial and blooming at slightly different time periods. Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba) This species (also called three-lobed coneflower) is listed as a short-lived perennial blooming from June – October. It has smaller (2”) but more numerous flowers than R. hirta with fewer short, fat rays. It grows taller (2 – 5’) and bushier. The basal leaves are often three-lobed, hence the species name.


Friday, August 7 ∙ 7 - 9 p.m. Free, $5 suggested donation ∙ Adults Temperatures are hot outside, so join us inside for some of the coolest short films that shed new light on environmental topics in concise, creative and quirky ways. Popcorn and drinks for sale. Co-sponsored by Friends of Reston. Reservations requested by August 4.

Orange Coneflower (Rudbeckia fulgida) The orange coneflower stems are 1-3 feet tall and yellow-orange flowers 2-3 inches wide with curved petals each toothed at its tip. To add to the confusion, this is sometimes called the perennial Black-eyed Susan. This species is our favorite at the nature center due to its many flowers, spreading nature and long blooming time lasting from July often until November.

Photo by: The Dow Gardens Archive Country: United States Organization: Dow Gardens http://www.forestryimages.org

Common or Green Headed Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) In contrast to those above, the centers or cones of this plant are green. They can grow very tall (3-12 feet) with flowers 3-4 inches across. While this plant thrives in wet meadows, it can also tolerate some shade. Due to its height, it is not used as often in garden settings where it can also become invasive. There are, however, cultivars adapted well to moist gardens. Bloom time July-October.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) This is a common coneflower but a member of a different genus. It is 2-5’ tall and has long-lasting lavender flowers. Echinacea comes from a Greek work meaning sea urchin or “hedgehog” referring to the spiky appearance of the brown central cone. Purple coneflower has been bred extensively for flower color and plant form. This is an especially good plant for butterflies. Bloom time July-September.

Sponsored by Friends of Reston. All proceeds benefit the nature center.



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

Come to Camp at the Walker Nature Center WALKER’S RANGERS AGES: 6 – 9 by Sept. 30, 2015 DATES: Monday–Friday Four one-week sessions TIME: 9 a.m.–Noon LOCATION: Walker Nature Center, 11450 Glade Drive

FEE: $85/session – RA members $110/session – Non-members

REGISTER: Online at www.reston.org or in person at 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, VA 20191 CONTACT: For more information call 703-435-6551 or email camps@reston.org. Parents: Drop off your child at this morning jam-packed with outdoor fun! We will pick up where camp ended with fun and exciting outdoor activities. Kids: Discover the world of invertebrates! Search for aquatic invertebrates, tadpoles, and minnows in a cool stream. Explore the life cycle of insects through a geocache trail. Finish with a campfire and a traditional campfire treat. Reservations required by August 21. Call (703) 476-9689 and press 5 or email naturecenter@reston.org to sign up.


Micro World

Creature Features

Session 2A: July 13-17 Get zapped by our shrink ray so that you can enter the fascinating world of nature’s smallest life forms. Look at pond water through a microscope and use a magnifying glass to look at insects visiting flowers in the gardens. Peek under a log to discover beetles, slugs, ants and more. Make mushroom spore prints and see how soil teems with life. Have big fun in a small world.

Session 4A: August 10-14 Discover the five groups of animals with backbones: mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish. See what makes each of these groups unique from one another. Compare skulls, ribs and other bones, and construct replicas of each type of animal. Search for reptiles and amphibians in the pond and under logs. Use binoculars to observe birds and mammals. Dip a net into the creek to catch small fish.

Predators & Prey Session 2B: July 20-24 In nature, predators need to eat prey to survive while prey need to escape predators in order to survive. Discover how animals hone their senses for hunting or for hiding. Meet live animals and find out if they are predators or prey. Play role-playing games like “Bat and Moth” and “Camouflage.” Find out how the dynamic between hunter and hunted provides a balance in nature.

Water Wonders Session 4B: August 17-21 Water is essential to life but it can be a lot of fun, too. Dip into a creek to find critters that live there. Peer into the pond to see who hides in the watery depths. Sketch a watery scene and paint with special watercolors. Have a water balloon toss and participate in water relays. Discover how “cool” water can be, especially during the hot days of summer.


Summer 15 Volume Seventeen

Profile for Reston Association

Branching out summer 2015  

WNC newsletter

Branching out summer 2015  

WNC newsletter