past Newsletter Issues

Riding the Wind, by CVWO's president, Brian Taber, is a celebration of birds, birding and conservation. The book - released in honor of CVWO's 25th anniversary this year - features essays, some previously published in magazines. Twenty illustrations by award-winning artist Julie Zickefoose accompany the birding stories inside and the cover art is by CVWO Hawkwatcher, Anna Stunkel. The book is a fundraiser for CVWO.

You can purchase a copy of Riding the Wind with the PayPal link below, or visit local bird stores, Wild Birds Unlimited and Backyard Birder, for signed copies of the book.

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!

show at cvwo's cafe press

MARCH 1, 2019

CVWO Announces Recipient of Bill Akers 2019 Graduate Student Grant

AUGUST 30, 2018

HawkWatch At Kiptopeke Kicks Off!

Anna Stunkel is back in the 757! She arrived today from Massachusetts and three volunteers from CVWO helped unload her car. She'll start counting raptors at Kiptopeke State Park on Saturday, September 1.

Last year Anna counted 14,442 raptors of 14 species at the Kiptopeke Platform between September 1 and November 30 for a total number of 783.25 hours! Whew!

Kiptopeke Hawkwatch at the tip of the Eastern Shore of VA begins its 42nd season this week, sponsored by CVWO! Anna Stunkel will be on the platform beginning Thursday, August 30 for her third year! Welcome back, Anna!

Visitors are always welcome at Kiptopeke State Park to help us find birds and to learn about the amazing hawk migration. The hawkwatch operates daily, weather permitting, through November.

Anna and the platform volunteers also keep track of the other notable species flying over the platform! How many saw the Roseate Spoonbill flyover last fall? And we’ll be paying attention to our hummingbird feeders and seed feeders, too.

Wonder how the 2018 season will go? Stay tuned to our social media pages at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Please also support our nonprofit work with your membership and/or donation!

June 18, 2019

NEW BOOK RELEASE: Riding the Wind

MAY 1, 2018

CVWO Tagged Monarchs Found In Mexico And North Carolina

In the fall of 2017, 1485 Monarch butterflies were tagged by Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory biologist Clay Buffkin at Kiptopeke State Park. Weighing approximately half a gram and making a journey of 2400+ miles to their overwintering grounds in Mexico, they congregate in numbers that have ranged over the last 25 years from 14 million to 380 million (World Wildlife Fund).  

 Hoping to learn their fate is like hoping to find a needle in a haystack.   Monarch Watch, a program affiliated with the University of Kansas Biological Survey, maintains and publishes records of butterflies that are recovered in the Monarch sanctuaries in Mexico. This past winter 928 tags were recovered.  Incredibly, four of these were CVWO-tagged butterflies.  All four -- 3 males, 1 female -- were tagged in a three day period from 9/29-10/01. Two were recovered in Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary, and two in El Presario sanctuary.  

In addition a CVWO-tagged Monarch was observed in Wilmington, NC, five days after tagging at Kiptopeke. This sighting provides data on an impressive leg of the journey: 319 miles in five days, or averaging 64 miles a day.

All of these Monarchs were tagged while nectaring on goldenrod, pine, and Mist Flower. In addition to the Monarch Butterfly Migration Program CVWO creates and manages numerous butterfly gardens for education and research. For more information please see our Butterfly Research Project page and support our nonprofit work with your membership and tax-deductible donations!

Dunkadoo. It’s an unusual name. Dunkadoo is an old New England term for the American Bittern and the name of a non-profit that has developed software tools for professional hawkcounters and other research scientists.

The aim is to collect data, download, and share it using the global reach of the Internet, while saving valuable time for our hawkcounter at the end of a long day.

Using Dunkadoo our CVWO hawkcounter will enter data on a Galaxy tablet throughout the day which will automatically download to a customized web page on the Dunkadoo site. This will have links to the CVWO web page. The data is used to create colorful charts, and graphs, which can be used for education and public outreach. The tool will also auto-submit the CVWO data to With this new tool CVWO can share our hawk watch data with a global community. 

We are excited to begin the fall hawk migration season with our returning hawkcounter, Anna Stunkel, and this great new tool!

NOVEMBER 8, 2018

Motus Wildlife Tracking System Launched At Craney Island

Find T-shirts, mugs, water bottles, hats, totes and a shirt for your dog in CVWO's online Cafe Press store! These items feature our 25th Anniversary artwork by Megan Messa. Thank you for supporting our work! SHOP NOW!


Did you know there are “shy” bluebirds and “bold” bluebirds? Eastern Bluebirds have personalities just like humans.

Heather Kenny, recipient of CVWO’s Bill Akers 2019 Graduate Student Grant, will use the grant funds to help understand “how anthropogenic noise and personality interact to influence population level structure and trends in suburban Eastern Bluebirds.”

Heather is a master’s degree student at the College of William and Mary studying with Dr. Dan Cristol, Chancellor Profesor of Biology and co-founder of William and Mary's Institute for Integrative Bird Behavior Studies.

“Are bold birds more likely than shy birds to settle in nests with higher levels of background noise?”

“Do shy-type birds alter their behavior more than bold-type birds in response to experimentally applied noise?”

“Are shy birds more likely than bold birds to move away from sites where noise was experimentally increased?” 

Per Heather, “Results from this study will help inform responsible placement of future nest boxes to foster a healthy and diverse bluebird population that can persist well into the future.”

CVWO is proud to support her research in 2019 with the Bill Akers Graduate Student Grant. And we are excited to share this news with our friends, members, and supporters.

Follow cvwo on twitter

Below are CVWO's past newsletters starting with October 2018. Please subscribe to our newsletters here.

FEBRUARY 14, 2019

Meet Megan Messa, Artist for CVWO's 25th Anniversary Artwork

The Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory’s Waterbirds Team is excitedly proud to report that as of 8 November 2018 its Motus Wildlife Tracking System is completely installed and fully operational at Craney Island, Portsmouth, Virginia. Motus (Latin for ‘movement’) is a Bird Studies Canada research partnership with Acadia University and collaborating researchers and organizations such as CVWO. 

The program uses radio telemetry to study the movement and behavior of birds, bats, and large insects that have been affixed with digitally-encoded radio transmitters that broadcast signals several times per minute. The system’s antennae are capable of detecting these signals up to 20 km away. 

The Craney Island Motus station, Virginia’s eighth, becomes part of an international network of more than 350 Motus sites from Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut, Canada to southern Argentina and as far west as Vancouver Island, Canada. The recorded data “hits” will periodically be downloaded from a memory card then transmitted to Bird Studies Canada for researcher access.

CVWO’s participation in this project was enabled, in part, by a $1,000.00 Virginia Society of Ornithology Conservation Fund Grant. That amount supplemented funds from CVWO’s Ruth Beck Research Fund to purchase the system. CVWO is very grateful to the VSO, the Williamsburg Bird Club and the Hampton Roads Bird Club for their financial assistance and, most especially, for the ongoing support of the Norfolk District Office of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Craney Island management and staff. Results from the Craney Island station will be reported as soon as the Waterbirds Team is made aware of them.

This project was brought to its successful fruition by Andy Hawkins and Dave Youker who devoted considerable time, physical effort and technical skill to the installation of the station and to ensuring it was functionally on line.

Photo above left: Andy Hawkins and Dave Youker work on installing the MOTUS antenna. Above right: MOTUS antenna is located on the Chesapeake Bay. All text and photos by Bill Williams.

Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory



cvwo blog



Dunkadoo At Kiptopeke Hawkwatch