What is a Master Naturalist?

Virginia Master Naturalists are trained and certified volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping to conserve and manage natural resources and public lands in Virginia.

Members of the Arlington Regional Master Naturalist (ARMN) chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program:

  • provide, promote, and facilitate volunteer service to sustain natural areas in our communities using sound natural resource management and conservation practices,
  • offer and support environmental education and outreach to encourage understanding and respect for our natural environment, and
  • engage in a wide range of citizen science activities that contribute to greater knowledge of local streams, plants, animals, and local habitat.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Recent Posts

Bird Mobs at Long Branch Nature Center

by Steve Young

ARMN member and Long Branch environmental steward Steve Young shares a mindful encounter with nature.

During a warm July morning, I found myself walking along the Long Branch Nature Center access road. Just east of Willow Pond, I began to hear a commotion among small birds. First to get my attention were the scolding alarm calls of Wood Thrushes—”Whip! Whip!” Then I began to notice other birds calling and in some cases flying around near the stream: Eastern Towhees, Common Grackles, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Wrens, Blue Jays, and undoubtedly some others I either missed or have forgotten.

To me the uproar was almost a sure sign of the presence of some predator. Birds alert each other to a predator and often “mob” it. Interestingly, even though there are crows around and they tend to be very aggressive mobbers, I heard or saw none.

I slowly walked closer to the stream, toward the epicenter of the activity, expecting to see perhaps a ground-based predator like a domestic cat or a fox, maybe with a victim in its grasp, since that would amplify the upset of the birds. But I saw nothing. Barred Owl? I looked up in the trees, but saw no owl. Finally, about 15 feet above the stream, I spotted a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk perched motionless in a tree. This was the cause of the racket. As I got close, it flew to a new perch about 3 feet away from its previous one. As soon as it moved, two grackles dived at its head. There was no more direct mobbing, but the sonic uproar continued. I took several pictures and walked on.

Red-shouldered Hawk at Long Branch (upper right in tree)

Red-shouldered Hawk at Long Branch (upper right in tree)

Had I not focused on the message from the birds and realized they could tell me something, I would never have known the silent, motionless hawk was there. The more attention we pay to nature with our various senses, the more stories nature shares.

  1. Applications for ARMN Fall Training Class Due August 20 Leave a reply
  2. Arlington 4-H’s Environmental Programs Help Kids Explore Nature Leave a reply
  3. Amazing Grasses . . . Right Under Our Feet! Comments Off on Amazing Grasses . . . Right Under Our Feet!
  4. Application Period Open for ARMN Fall 2016 Training Class Comments Off on Application Period Open for ARMN Fall 2016 Training Class
  5. ARMN Members Win Environmental Education Challenge Comments Off on ARMN Members Win Environmental Education Challenge
  6. Arlington County Recognizes ARMN’s Eric Midboe as “Outstanding Volunteer” Comments Off on Arlington County Recognizes ARMN’s Eric Midboe as “Outstanding Volunteer”
  7. Master Naturalists Visit the Shenandoah Valley’s SCBI Comments Off on Master Naturalists Visit the Shenandoah Valley’s SCBI
  8. Spring Wonders in Potomac Overlook Regional Park Comments Off on Spring Wonders in Potomac Overlook Regional Park
  9. ARMN Joins Central Rappahannock on Visit to Crow’s Nest Comments Off on ARMN Joins Central Rappahannock on Visit to Crow’s Nest