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Events Coming Soon

30 Jul 2020 10:00 AM • On-line order





   

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OWL MOON

OCTOBER 17th  7:00PM




It’s nearly time for the Friends of Mason Neck State Park’s annual presentation of OWL MOON!

This year, we will be bringing the event to you right in your own home using Zoom. There is no charge for this event.  


You will meet and learn about all the owls from raptor rehabilitator Secret Garden Birds and Bees, our favorite presenter.


A special treat will be the introduction of Phantom – a beautiful barn owl. Find out what makes him unique as you also explore the life of a barred owl, great horned owl, and screech owl.




You will be able to ask questions about all the raptors in the program.


Get the family together.  This event is appropriate for all ages and is open to the public.  Registration is free! Don’t miss it! 

 

After you register, we’ll provide you with the instructions you’ll need to join the program.       


Register now here.



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The Importance of Bugs

Text and photos by Randy Streufert     





If you love seeing the many beautiful birds when you visit Mason Neck State Park as well as those that visit your own neighborhood, you should also recognize the importance of arthropods (insects, caterpillars, and spiders).

   

In the last month adult birds representing numerous species have been busy raising their broods of chicks feeding them a diet of protein-rich bugs.  Even seed-eating songbirds like Northern Cardinals and American Goldfinches rely on arthropods to feed their young. In the last month, he abundance of arthropods has enabled many, many chicks to grow and survive.



Studies by Douglas Tallamy, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware have documented songbirds’ critical need for arthropods.  A single pair of Carolina Chickadees must find and capture between five and seven thousand arthropods to feed to a single brood of chicks.  That’s a minimum of 180 bugs per day for their brood from the time the chicks hatch to about two weeks after they fledge.  Imagine the numbers of arthropods required for all of the pairs of the many species raising chicks right now in this area.

In the past three weeks in the nest boxes around our house (located not far from the park), we’ve hosted two broods of Chickadees, one brood of Eastern Bluebirds and another of Prothonotary Warblers.  Photographing the activities of the birds has confirmed their dependence on arthropods to feed their young.  The only criteria the adults seem to use is whether the arthropod is alive and will fit in the chick’s mouth.













Although many of us aren’t big fans of bugs, we should be able to appreciate the critical role they play as a food source for the birds.  Many birds, like the American Kestrel (our smallest Falcon), rely on insects as a primary source of food.  If mosquitoes near your home cause you to consider a spraying service, know that pesticides don’t just kill pests, they poison bees, butterflies and caterpillars.  Its much easier and less costly to just get rid of mosquito breeding grounds (standing water) than to eliminate the food that birds need to survive.   Your feathered friends will show their appreciation by continuing to live and display their beauty at the park and by your home.

 



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Join the Fight Against Disposable Plastic


The Friends of Mason Neck State Park are doing their part to slow the production and disposal of plastics.  Plastic bottles take as long as 450 years to decompose in the environment.  Before they do, they break down into "micro-plastic" bits that are eaten by animals and can end up in our own bodies.  On land, plastic adversely affects soil fertility, and can choke our streams and rivers.




The Friends of Mason Neck State Park have stopped offering disposable water bottles to Park volunteers and at Friends events.  Instead, they are offering free multi-use bottles that recipients can take home with them.  Hopefully, people will use these bottles instead of buying more disposable ones.  


Mason Neck State Park also is committed to reducing the use of disposable plastic bottles and has installed water bottle filling stations at the Visitor Center and the picnic area.  


         


Do your part too:  find ways to limit your use of disposable plastics, including those grocery store bags that have a typical useful life of 15 minutes -- the time to get from store to home -- and take 1000 years to decompose in a landfill.  



The Friends of Mason Neck State Park


The Friends of Mason Neck State Park is a Section 501(c)(3) organization that works to conserve, enhance, and interpret the Park's natural, educational, recreational, cultural and historic resources. We assist the Park Staff in implementing its programs and activities such as the annual Eagle Festival, shoreline cleanups, and outreach events.  We also sponsor special events such as our annual Owl Moon and Holiday Party, help guide canoe and kayaking trips and lead hikes.__

               

            


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Mason Neck State Park 

Mason Neck State Park is located on the Mason Neck peninsula in southeastern Fairfax County, Virginia. The Park's wetlands, forest, water, ponds, and fields are home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, osprey, geese, ducks, swans, and other birds living on or near the Potomac River, Kane's Creek, and Belmont Bay. 


The Park has hiking trails, three miles of paved multi-use trails, a large picnic area, a playground, a car-top canoe and kayak launch, and a visitor center. Canoe, kayak, and bicycle rentals are available.

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