Conservation News

Bee and Ant Observer Cards from the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology and the Encyclopedia of Life

From an e-mail I received recently; you can also build your own guides for certain species:

The Entomology Department at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology and the Encyclopedia of Life ( have collaborated to develop a set of "Bee Observer Cards" that are intended to teach naturalists, teachers, resource managers and other interested public something about the diverse anatomy, natural history, and behaviors of bees.  The cards are not a guide to taxonomic identification, but more a tool to help people observe the remarkable diversity of body structures, nesting habits etc. when they are out in the field.  They are freely available to anyone as a PDF on the EOL website: 

From there, they are easy to print up as cards or for use on screen devices.  Please take a look, and spread the word!  Thanks.
Tracy Barbaro
Encyclopedia of Life
Harvard University
Museum of Comparative Zoology
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Phone: 617.496.6764

Riparian Workshop on June 22 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Front Royal, VA

On Saturday, June 22, the Virginia Working Landscapes program will hold a workshop at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. with lectures on watershed management, on-the-ground conservation programs, and benefits of riparian restorations to local wildlife, followed by a panel discussion and farm tour in the afternoon.

The workshop is sponsored by the SCBI and the Piedmont Environmental Council. The $25 registration fee includes lunch. Registration is limited. To register or get more information, go to

Virginia Working Landscapes is a network of government and nongovernment nonprofit conservation organizations and several local service providers and landowners that convenes at SCBI. VWL “studies and encourages the sustainable use of Virginia’s landscapes for native biodiversity through community engagement and scientific research.” For more on VWL, go to

Studies Link Pesticides to Plunging Bee Populationsfrom CNN's Light Years blog

Photo by José Reynaldo da Fonsecalicensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license  
A widely used family of pesticides may cause bees to lose their homing instincts and hinder the survival of their colonies, European researchers reported Thursday, suggesting that governments should re-examine their use.


New Web-based tool for Virginia's native plants
from the Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation

Yellow Ladyslipper.
Photo by Pam Owen.
Virginians from the beach to the mountains have a new tool at their disposal as they plan their spring gardens.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has launched the Virginia Native Plant Finder, an online database that enables users to easily search for plants that are native to their region of the state.
Users can look up specific plants by common or scientific names. They also can enter a variety of search terms to find native plants fitting selected moisture, light or landscape requirements.

Native plants are those that occur in the region where they evolved. They possess certain traits that make them uniquely adapted to local conditions. Staff from DCR’s Virginia Natural Heritage Program work to inventory and protect the state’s native plants.

Landscaping with natives offers several benefits.
  • Because native plants are acclimated to local conditions, they often require less water, fertilizer and pesticide than non-natives. This means less maintenance for gardeners.
  • Planting with natives reduces the risk of invasive, non-native plants taking over the yard.
  • Beneficial wildlife such as birds and butterflies rely on native plants for food and habitat. Yards planted with natives can become outdoor classrooms.
  • Native plants help preserve the natural landscape, creating a sense of place and pride. For example, Virginia’s state tree — the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) — makes the native plant list.
  • The Virginia Native Plant Finder is built on information from DCR’s “Native Plants for Conservation, Restoration and Landscaping” brochure series. The series was created with assistance from many partners, including the Virginia Native Plant Society.

The society maintains a list of nurseries that grow natives. Native plants should be purchased from reputable vendors and never taken from wild places.

The Virginia Native Plant Finder is at DCR’s website, Click on “Natural Heritage” and then “Native Plants.” It also can be found by clicking on “What to plant.”
For more information about Virginia native plants, contact Kevin Heffernan, DCR stewardship biologist, at

Jewel's Den Cam
Watch Black Bear mom Jewel with her two new cubs, born this winter, in their den on the North American Bear Center's web cam. Get updates on Jewel and her family or watch older videos of them on YouTube.

Photo by  Thegreenjlicensed under
the Creative Commons 
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
The Sky Is Falling. (No, really.)—and It's Good News! Grist magazine reports the lowering of clouds, which might actually help offset global warming. Bask in the good news, because we know how much climate change is likely to affect biodiversity and change the natural world as we know it. Humans are not exempt. so even if you're not interested in other species, this particular bird will come home to roost.
Eagle Cams: Watch Bald Eagles Raising Their Young
Bird enthusiasts now have a chance to watch live, via webcams, bald eagles raising their young in Decorah, Iowa (click here) and the Wildlife Center of Virginia eagles (click here).
Bald eagle chicks (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in nest on Kodiak Island, in Alaska.
(Photo from US Fish & Wildlife Service)
Watch Hummingbird Babies Growing Fast on Live Webcam
Mother Channel Island Allen's
Hummingbird feeding her two
growing babies on live webcam
Photo from
Having a hectic day? Take a break and watch a hummingbird mom and her babies live in California at phoebeallens.comThese are a nonmigrating subspecies of the Allen's Hummingbird (Selaphorus sasin), The Channel Island Allen's (Selaphorus sasin sedentarius). This Allen's, now on her third clutch of the year, is named "Phoebe." The migrating Allen's Hummingbird has extended its range from the West Coast into Virginia in the last few decades and are sometimes confused with the most common eastern species, the Ruby-throated (Archiochus colubris) and another West Coast species that has also expanded into Virginia, the Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus), which is more common than the Allen's here. Both the Rufous and the Allen's will overwinter here when food is available. The fact that people are increasingly feeding hummingbirds is the reason why these western species are successfully expanding their range all along the East Coast, and even to some areas in between. See my post on the Rufous for more info on that species and its successful expansion of its range. For more on the Allen's, go to Cornell Lab's AllAboutBirds website and check out my post about the extension of the range of the migrating Rufous and Allen's hummingbirds.