As a Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Outreach center specializing in songbirds and corvids, we offer education programs. Our programs are focused on our ambassadors, who are birds that have come to our facility and been determined by veterinarians to be non-releasable. Our ambassadors have adapted to humans, and we use them for education purposes to help people learn about their species. Our education programs can be in person or virtual over Zoom, and we have attended schools, libraries, fairs, and even birthday parties.
For our events, we usually bring Apollo (our education crow) and/or Admiral Ackbar (our education blue jay) because they both do well with human interaction. For our younger audiences, we talk about the birds in general and provide worksheets that create fun interactions with the material. For an older audience, we discuss rehabbing the birds, and go into more specific details about each bird. Our virtual education experience is always available, and we’ve utilized it mostly during the Covid-19 pandemic. We encourage donations on our programs, which help us take care of and rehabilitate the birds that come to our facility. If you would like to book an education program, please visit our website at DivaCrows.org and click the ‘Education Center’ tab on the top of the homepage, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another option for locals to have a chance to see some native birds in Virginia is to go birding! Sam Sparks, our Etsy store coordinator and certified bird enthusiast, has a lot of information and tips for the best times to go birding and where. “There’s technically a difference between birding and bird watching… birding is essentially the active form of birdwatching, so you’re out there seeking out birds instead of passively watching from your window or on a park bench” said Sparks. She recommends birding at Huntley Meadows, Winkler’s Botanical Preserve (Alexandria, VA), Occoquan Wildlife Refuge (Lorton, VA), Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve (next to the Belle Haven Marina), Holmes Run Trail, Four Mile Run Trail, and Mason Neck State Park.
The best times to go birding are within an hour of sunrise and an hour or two before sunset, because that is when the birds are the most active, said Sparks. Downloading a field guide app like eBird, Audubon, and Song Sleuth are great ways to find out about local sightings and ID species. One of the most important things to bring for birding is your binoculars (8×42-12×42 is the best range for spotting birds)! “Listening for birds is just as important as looking for them,” said Sparks. And always be patient!
Migration is one of the best times to see less common bird species because they are traveling north and south. Sparks recalled seeing a Solitary Sandpiper in the stream along Four Mile Run. “It was en route from Central or South America, where it spends the winter, to Canada for breeding season.” Birding can also be interesting because birds are often unpredictable. “I once was patiently watching a double-crested cormorant at Belle Haven Marina. I had my camera ready, thinking it was about to take flight, but instead I captured an action shot of it projectile pooping,” said Sparks.
If you decide to go birding in any of the spots we recommend, tag or send us a photo of what you find @divacrows on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We have also added a donation button through our Facebook, and our donation links are always available on our website.