Winter Wildlife Festival

Join us for a month-long celebration of coastal wildlife and nature! See all the festival highlights below.
The 2023 Winter Wildlife Festival will be January 28 through February 5. Registration is open now!

 Keynote Speakers

Dawn Songs: The Poetics of Migration

Join this team of award-winning literary naturalists for an exploration of migration at the interface of Nature and human nature. They will take you on a journey that spans miles, ecologies, and cosmologies. They will invite you into the deep terrain of birds and birders through the recitation of selected works from their upcoming anthology, Dawn Songs: A Birdwatcher's Field Guide to the Poetics of Migration. Proceeds from Dawn Songs sales will go to the American Bird Conservancy's Conservation and Justice Fellowship program.

  • Date: Sunday, January 29
  • Time: 2:30-4pm
  • Location: The Goode Center at Virginia Wesleyan University

About the Speakers:

Drew Lanham.jpgJ. Drew Lanham, PhD

Drew loves birds. He is an Alumni Distinguished Professor of Conservation and Cultural Ornithology at Clemson University. He is the author of The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature, Sparrow Envy, and Sparrow Envy: Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts. His work has been recognized with the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize. He was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. Most notably, he received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2022—an award that recognizes and supports creative genius. Drew is a regular contributor to Orion Magazine and a much sought-after speaker in ornithological and literary circles. He is the Poet Laureate of Edgefield, South Carolina.

Jamie Reaser.jpgJamie K. Reaser, PhD

Jamie is the author of ten full-length poetry and lyrical prose collections, the editor of two prosaic anthologies, and co-author of Bring Back the Birds: What You Can Do to Save Threatened Species. She is the recipient of two Nautilus Book Awards, a USA Best Book award, and several Pushcart Prize nominations. Jamie has been an avid birdwatcher since early childhood. Over the course of her career, she has translated that passion into roles as an ecologist, educator, and international policy negotiator. Jamie has worked in over 70 countries and has been recognized for her substantial contributions to conservation through numerous awards, including the prestigious Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State and appointments to high-level advisory bodies by the United Nations and Executive Office of the President. Jamie is the co-founder of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and International [World] Migratory Bird Day. She is tended by the Rockfish River in central Virginia.

 Photo Contest


Capture Wildlife Photos for a Chance to Win Festival Prizes

Entry Period: Jan 1 - Feb 5, 2023


  • WILDLIFE (Excludes captive animals including those in a zoo or museum or similar.)
    • PORTRAIT - Must show wildlife in Coastal Virginia ; animal(s) must be still. (e.g. a perched bird)
    • ACTION - Must show wildlife in Coastal Virginia; animal(s) in motion, displaying a behavior, etc. (e.g. a bird in flight, a whale breeching)
  • FESTIVAL IN ACTION | Must show festival partcipants during any 2023 Winter Wildlife Festival activity. Submission should capture the “spirit” of the festival.
  • LANDSCAPE/SCENIC | Must show scenic landscape and/or native flowers, trees, shrubs or plants in Coastal Virginia.
  • YOUTH | Subject may be of wildlife, nature, or people participating in nature-based recreation taken in location in Coastal Virginia; must be under 16 to qualify.
  • PEOPLE’S CHOICE | Subject may be of wildlife, nature, or people participating in nature-based
recreation taken in location in Coastal Virginia. Photo with the most likes on Facebook wins!

Click here for the full rules. 

All photos submitted must be taken in Coastal Virginia. Coastal Virginia is defined as the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg; and the counties of Accomack, Isle of Wight, James City, Northampton, Southampton and York.

All entries must be submitted between 1/1/23  - 2/5/23 at 11:59pm.  All photos must be taken during entry period. You may only submit one (1) photo per eligible category.


Bundle Up the family and visit StoryWalk®

Winter is here! Birds and other animals are prepared for the cold. Come learn all about wintering animals and their wonder-inspiring ways through brilliant graphic illustrations and gentle, thought-provoking text.

StoryWalk® will feature the following books: 

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Lake Lawson/ Lake Smith
Natural Area
​Jan. 7
​Winter Dance
​Marshview Park
​Jan. 14
​First Landing State Park
​Jan. 14 & 15
​Winter Dance
​City View Park
​Jan. 21
​Winter Dance
​Back Bay Wildlife Refuge
​Jan. 21 & 22
​Pungo- Blackwater Library
​Jan. 24
​Winter Dance
​Princess Anne Library
​Jan. 28
​Winter Dance
​Kempsville Library
​Jan. 30
​Winter Dance
​Virginia Aquarium
Feb. 2, 3, 4, & 5​
​Winter Dance
Pleasure House Point
Natural Area
​Feb. 5

 Birding Challenge

2023 Birding Challenge | Saturday, January 28 – Sunday, February 5 

This is a Team Competition; teams must have 2-5 people. Cost is $15 per person, which includes a t-shirt and awards of recognition for winning teams. Only one team member is permitted to register all team members. When checking out please enter number of seats for number of Team Members. Birding must be done between Saturday, January 28 and Sunday, February 5. 

  • Big Day Division: Observe birds from 12am until 11:59pm on any eligible day. Team does not have to bird for all 24 hours but should bird for more than three.
  • Mini Day Division: Observe birds for any continuous 3-hour period; must indicate start and stop time on submission.
  • Backyard Bird Count Division: Observe birds at a private residence for any amount of time, not to exceed 24 hours. Hours must be continuous.

 Workshops & Library Events

Workshops (ages 13 & up) | Saturday, January 28 | Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)

Online registration is required. 

Allegheny Alligators, Snot Otters, and Devil Dogs: Conservation of a Living Fossil - the Eastern Hellbender - The eastern hellbender is one of the most unique and endangered salamanders in Virginia. This presentation will cover its life history, ecology and some of the conservation efforts implemented by the Department of Wildlife Resources and their partners at Virginia Tech. Presented by J.D. Kleopfer, Department of Wildlife Resources State Herpetologist.
  • 9:30am

Birding Skill-builder Workshop - Are you just starting to get into birds? Do you enjoy watching them around your home and neighborhood and wish you knew how to identify them? Then this class is for you! This workshop will introduce you to the rewarding hobby of birding and will cover all the basic skills to help you get started. Topics covered will include the seven key identification clues, including the how-tos of observing birds by sight and sound, plus helpful resources and equipment. Participants in this workshop are encouraged to also register the accompanying optional field session (see festival trips & excursions for details) to practice these skills and more. Recommended for new or casual birders. Presented by Jessica Ruthenberg, Department of Wildlife Resources Watchable Wildlife Biologist. 
  • 11:00am

The Amazing Coyote Resident Everywhere - The Eastern Coyote has now settled in all of North America and is present in every county and city in Virginia. This presentation will provide information about their behavior, especially in the urban environment. Also included are strategies to mitigate their presence. Presented by Dr. Richard Groover, author of The Environmental Almanac of Virginia. 
  • 1:00pm

Diamondback Terrapins: Biology, Conservation and a new Citizen Science Initiative - The Diamondback Terrapin is the only turtle species in North America that lives exclusively in brackish water such as the tidal marshes of coastal Virginia. Unfortunately, this incredibly charismatic species is declining throughout the majority of its range, including within the Chesapeake region. This session will discuss the unique natural history of Diamondback Terrapins, provide information on the multitude of threats facing terrapin populations, and introduce a new citizen science project that is currently recruiting volunteers to assist with terrapin monitoring. Presented by Meagan Thomas Department of Wildlife Resources Watchable Wildlife Biologist. 
  • 2:30pm

Library Events

Photography 101 - Build your knowledge and skills with this introductory photography program with using what is already in your pocket! With additional focus on wildlife and natural setting photography.  In support of Parks & Rec's Winter Wildlife Festival and VBPL partnership. Grades 6-12. Registration required. 

Save the Birds! Story and Craft Join us during the Winter Wildlife Festival for a story and craft event. You will learn how you can help local birds right at your home and make a birdfeeder to help birds and enhance fine motor skills. Preschoolers (3-5 years) & K-2nd Graders with caregiver. Registration is required.

TACO Presents: A Celebration of Birds Storytime & Craft Join us for a story, a bird-friendly craft, and some fun science as we investigate what makes a bird a bird.  Ages 3-7.  Registration is required. 

Birding with Tech Whether you’re new to birdwatching or experienced, learn how to take your birdwatching to the next level using free apps and digital tools. Adults. Registration required.

Birding with Tech Whether you’re new to birdwatching or experienced, learn how to take your birdwatching to the next level using free apps and digital tools. Adults. Registration required.

 Exhibit Hall

2023 Winter Wildlife Exhibit Hall | January 28

Join us at Princess Anne Recreation center for our annual winter wildlife exhibit hall - featuring live animals, exhibitors, children's activities, door prizes and much more! This event is free and open to the public. 

Princess Anne Recreation Center
​Date & Time
Saturday,  January 28 | 10 am - 3 pm


Deadline to submit: December 16, 2022. Applications submitted after December 16, 2022, will be reviewed. If accepted payment will incur an additional $10 late fee.

2023 Exhibit Hall Vendors

  • Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society 
  • Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
  • Backyard Birder Seed & Supply
  • Barbara Bloom Pottery
  • Butterfly Society of Virginia
  • C. Beauvais Photography
  • Cape Henry Audubon Society
  • Claudia Moore Homemade Dog Treats
  • Dirty Bird Podcast
  • Eco Maniac Company
  • Elizabeth River Project
  • Environmental Studies Program
  • Evelyn’s Wildlife Refuge
  • False Cape State Park 
  • First Landing State Park
  • iPhotoBirds
  • Lynnhaven River NOW
  • MiaImaMai
  • Michael Schimmel Photography
  • Moore to Sea Photo Expeditions
  • The Nature Bus
  • Nature Matters
  • Nature’s Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation
  • Oberweis Dairy
  • Ocean Art by Stephanie
  • ODU Tick Research Team
  • Olehenns Photography 
  • Our Numinous Nature
  • Parks and Landscape Services
  • Rie Adore
  • SHill Creations Studio
  • Sierra Club Virginia Chapter
  • Solar Services
  • Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club
  • Tidewater Master Naturalist
  • Tidewater Rehabilitation & Environmental Education
  • Tidewater Wildlife Rescue
  • U Rock Art
  • USDA Wildlife Services
  • U.S. NAVY Environmental Outreach, Stewards of the Sea
  • VA Aquarium & Marine Science Center
  • VA Beach Audubon Society
  • VA Coastal Zone Management Program
  • VA Department of Wildlife Resources 
  • Wild Baby Raccoon Rescue
  • Food Vendors: Luvabowls | Mello Beans Coffee
    Available at scheduled times. 

 Trips & Excursions

Click here for the printable 2023 festival schedule. 

Trips & Excursions (listed in alphabetical order)

Birds in the City; ages 13 & up - Discover a variety of interesting birds that spend the winter in Virginia Beach on this introductory bird walk around Mount Trashmore Park. Even in the heart of the city, in this urban park, a surprising number of birds may be found. We will walk the paved paths around the park, primarily focusing on observing its two lakes. Binoculars will be available for loan and your guide will teach you how to use them. No previous birding experience is needed. Wear comfortable walking shoes and dress in layers appropriate for the winter weather.  Recommended for anyone interested in giving birding a try or just simply wishing to spend a morning outdoors connecting with nature.
  • Location: Meets at Mount Trashmore Park (310 Edwin Drive)
  • $5
  • Wednesday, February 1 | 9am-11am

The Birds and History of Fort Monroe; ages 13 & up Enjoy a birding tour and history talk at Virginia's landmark Fort Monroe, also known as "Freedom's Fortress." A Park Ranger with the Fort Monroe National Monument will discuss the historical significance of the area. Then, we will walk the Fort Monroe seawall, a paved walkway that overlooks the confluence of the Chesapeake Bay and James River to look for migratory waterfowl, sea ducks, and seabirds. After the seawall, transportation will be provided to check out additional birding vantage points around the area, including Fort Monroe's northern end that overlooks Mill Creek and the Hampton River, which in addition to the waterbirds, provide an opportunity to spot wintering songbirds and raptors. 
  • Location: Meets at Fort Monroe Visitor & Education Center (30 Ingalls Road, Fort Monroe, VA)
  • $30
  • Friday, February 3 | 8:30am-12:30pm

Birding Skill-builder Field Session; ages 13 & up  Join Jessica Ruthenberg, a DWR Watchable Wildlife Biologist, for an introductory bird walk at Pleasure House Point Natural Area to practice the new birding skills gained in the accompanying workshop (see festival workshops for details). The area is an excellent spot to observe seabirds, waterfowl, songbirds, and more. Binoculars will be available for loan and Jessica will teach you how to use them. Participants in this field session are encouraged to also register for the accompanying optional workshop, but it is not a pre-requisite for attending this field session. If you have your own and prefer to use those, you are welcome to bring them. Participation in the accompanying workshop is not a prerequisite for this field session, but is encouraged. Recommended for new or casual birders.  
  • Location: Meets at Brock  Enviromental Center Parking Lot (3663 Marlin Bay Drive VB)
  • $5
  • Monday, January 30 | 9am-12pm

NEW Birding with award-winning guide & tour of CBF Green Building; ages 12 & up - Join the heated Nature Bus and bird expert James Abbott for a guided walk at Pleasure House Point. The "National Park Service, Excellence in Education Award" was given to James a couple of months ago!  Pleasure House Point is a winter birding hotspot. Almost all of our local waterfowl species can be observed here, as well as wintering shorebirds and songbirds. We will tour the marshes, woodlands, and open water areas.  After our winter walk, hot chocolate and coffee will be served to you inside of CBF's Living Building Certified Brock Environmental Center. We will be met by a second tour guide, who will show off the behind the scenes of this spectacular building. This is one of the most energy efficient, environmentally smart buildings IN THE WORLD! Transportation is included and required for participation. Visit for more trip details; be sure to click the green button for important information!
  • Location: Meets at Princess Anne Rec Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
  • $45
  • Saturday, January 28 | 8am-12pm

Blue Goose Birding Tram Tour; ages 16 & up - Winter is an exciting time of year at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. Ducks, geese and swans overwinter in our area and use the Refuge and State Park as feeding and resting grounds. On our birding tram we will focus on viewing opportunities of these and other winter migrants. Binoculars are recommended for this trip.Transportation is included and required for participation. Trip fees cover transportation & state park activity costs; tour and admission to refuge is free. 
  • Location: Meets at Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
  • $15
  • Sunday, January 29 | 8am-12:30pm
  • Sunday, February 5 | 8am-12:30pm

Blue Goose History & Wildlife Tram Tour; all ages – Adventure doesn't disappear in the winter! The Blue Goose Wildlife Tram takes passengers through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and False Cape State Park. We observe wintering ducks, geese and swans, visit the cemetery of the historic community of Wash Woods and discuss what makes this part of Virginia Beach a unique and exciting place. This trip includes an optional, one-mile hike. The tram is an open-air vehicle, please be prepared for the weather! Transportation is included and required for participation. Trip fees cover transportation & state park costs; admission to refuge is free.
  • Location: Meets at Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
  • $15
  • Saturday, January 28 | 12:30pm-5pm
  • Wednesday, February 1 | 8am-12:30pm
  • Saturday, February 4 |  12:30pm-5pm

Cape Henry Tour: ages 8 & up – This trip highlights two destinations in the historic Cape Henry area of Virginia Beach; First Landing State Park and the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse located on Fort Story. These locations offer views of the Chesapeake Bay where shorebirds, wintering seabirds, and waterfowl can be plentiful. In addition to wildlife viewing this trip will include historical information on the first landing of the Virginia Company and the old Cape Henry Lighthouse. Participants 16 & older are required to bring a government-issued picture ID for access to Fort Story.  All experience levels welcome. Must be 42 inches to climb lighthouse. Transportation is included and required for participation.  
  • Location: Meets at Princess Anne Recreation Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
  • $15
  • Saturday, January 28 | 8:30am-11:30am

Chesapeake Bay Birding Boat Trip; ages 16 & up - View the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Islands up close and personal! This boat trip offers eye-level views of birds, harbor seals and other wildlife on and around the CBBT islands. This is an excellent opportunity to view sea ducks, shorebirds and seabirds. Recommended for experienced birders. Please wear (and bring extra) warm layers, a hat, gloves or mittens, and a wind- or water-proof outer layer.
  • Location: Meets at Dockside Marina (3311 Shore Drive)
  • $45
  • Saturday, January 28 | 8am-11:30am
  • Saturday, February 4 | 8am-11:30am

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel 4th Island; ages 12 & up – The man-made islands of the CBBT that support the bridge provide rest stops for migrating and wintering birds. The islands can offer unusual or locally rare sightings. Northern gannet, brant, king eider, harlequin duck, little gull, great cormorant, purple sandpiper and rarities such as black-tailed gull make this one of the best winter birding sites in Virginia. The presence of the occasional harbor seals and wintering whales adds to the appeal of this unique site. Additional registration form required by Jan 18 for all participants. Due to construction this trip will visit the 4th island only.  All experience levels welcome. Transportation is included and required for participation.   
  • Location: Meets at Bayside Rec Center (4500 First Court Road)
  • $15
  • Sunday, January 29 | 8:30am-10am
  • Sunday, February 5 | 8:30am-10am
  • Registrants must complete the Individual Security Form to participate. 

NEW Definitely not Dismal: A history and nature tour!; ages 12 & up – If there were a place that was at once, one of the largest peat bogs in North America, the most important wildlife habitats in Mid-Atlantic region, once over 1.28 million acres of wilderness, listed by Audubon Society as a Globally Important Area, designated as an Underground Railroad Network Freedom Site, would you go? What if it is one of the top three homes for Black Bears in the East, with more than 200 bird species, 334 plants from 100 plant families? How about if this place was where the poet Robert Frost came to commit suicide, or the place George Washington came to drain the swamp? Or just simply join notable visitors including Poe, Wordsworth, Sir Thomas Moore, Madison, Monroe, and Harriett Tubman? Here's your chance! Your guided tour includes two (2) expert guides: a historian and a naturalist! An educational power point presentation will be conducted on board the bus during travel to the refuge. Transportation is included and required for participation. Visit for trip itinerary; be sure to click the green button for important information!
  • Location: Meets at Mount Trashmore Park (310 Edwin Drive)
  • $75
  • Tuesday, January 31 | 9am-4pm

NEW Eastern Shore Birding & Lunch; ages 12& up – Cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, an engineering marvel from Virginia Beach to the Eastern Shore; they have a slogan over there "You'll Love Our Nature!"  The Eastern Shore of Virginia plays host to tens of thousands of waterfowl every winter season. This provides opportunities to observe truly spectacular congregations of birds on the water and in farm fields. In early February, in particular, large flocks of snow geese and other waterfowl congregate on the eastern shore as they make their way back north. We will be visiting several protected areas. Join the heated Nature Bus and bird expert James Abbott for a trip through the birding hotspots of Northampton County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We will be mostly on the heated bus, driving the majority of the time, hopping on and off of the bus to view birds at a variety of locations, and with a 1.5 hour break for lunch. Although there is never a guarantee as to which birds we will actually spot, we will go on a search to see and photograph species such as Snow Goose, Tundra Swan, and Brant. We may even have a chance to see regionally rare species such as Ross's Goose, Cackling Goose, Greater-white fronted Goose, and Trumpeter Swan. Transportation is included and required for participation. Visit for more trip details; be sure to click the green button for important information!
  • Location: Meets at Bayside Rec Center (4500 First Court Road)
  • $60
  • Saturday, February 4 | 9:30am-4:30pm

Exploring Virginia's Seaside Lagoon System; ages 16 & up– The first weekend trip in January will start on a rising tide and go through mid-low tide whereas the second weekend trip in February will start on a dropping tide and go through mid-high tide, each offering unique opportunities to see birds in a variety of habitats.  Both boat trips begin in Oyster Harbor and will meander along salt marshes looking for shorebirds and other water birds, raptors, seals and other interesting wildlife as we make our way toward the barrier islands. If weather conditions allow, we will disembark on Wreck Island, a remote barrier island owned and managed by the VA Dept. of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program. There we may encounter flocks of dunlin, American oystercatchers and other shorebirds.  Depending on the tide, we may head north to Little Cobb and Cobb islands to look for roosting flocks of shorebirds, rafts of sea ducks and other treasures. Please keep in mind, this trip is weather dependent and may be cancelled if conditions are deemed too dangerous. The decision to go or cancel will be made by 5 pm the night before. Keep in mind temperatures and windchills are much colder on the water than on land. Please wear (and bring extra) warm layers and bring a hat, gloves or mittens, a wind- or water-proof outer layer, and waterproof knee or hip boots for getting in and out of the boat. You are also strongly encouraged to bring sunscreen, sunglasses. Bring your favorite binoculars, spotting scopes are optional. Trip leaders will bring light snacks and water and several spotting scopes. 
  • Location: Meets at Oyster Boat Ramp (Crumb Hill Road, Oyster, VA)
  • $40
  • Saturday, January 28 12pm-4pm (inclement weather date: 1/29/23)
  • Saturday, February 4 11am-3pm (inclement weather date: 2/5/22)

False Cape After Dark all ages - Take an open-air tram ride through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and explore False Cape State Park after dark! This program includes a guided hike through pristine maritime forest and dune habitats and out to the beach. We will call for owls along the way and check out the night sky (weather permitting) when we reach the beach. Expect to walk approximately 1.5 miles (round trip), partially over soft sand. ALL guests must wear a face mask while on the tram. Dress warmly, wear sturdy shoes, and bring a flashlight! Note: This program will be cancelled if temperatures are below freezing.
  • Location: False Cape State Park; meets at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (4005 Sandpiper Rd.)
  • $10
  • Saturday, January 28 and Friday, February 3 | 6pm-9pm THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED.

First Landing Nature Walk; ages 5 & up – Experience firsthand the amazing habitats that exist within First Landing State Park. Discover what makes the park's environment so unique that it has been made a national natural area. The 2-mile hike will take participants across swamp overlooks and through maritime forest in search of wildlife and natural phenomena found within the park. All experience levels welcome.
  • Location: Meets at First Landing State Park (2500 Shore Drive – Trail Center)
  • Free
  • Saturday, January 28 | 2pm-4pm

Fisherman’s Island: A Wildlife, Nature, and History Walk; 10 & upFisherman’s Island has been a marine hospital (1890), an artillery site (1942), part of Back Bay (1973) and the Eastern Shore of Virginia (1984). Additionally, it is critical habitat for nesting and migrating shorebirds. Join us as we walk along sandy trails thru maritime forest, swales, secondary dunes, and beach areas. Migratory birds and a variety of flora and fauna are also part of this walk. Don’t miss out on the spectacular views this location offers of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel!  Meets at Bayville Rec Center (4500 First Court Rd.). All experience levels welcome. The walk is about 2-miles and over uneven sand. Transportation is included and required for participation. Trip fees cover transportation & toll costs; refuge-led tour and admission are free.
  • Location: Meets at Bayside Rec Center (4500 First Court Rd.)
  • $20
  • Saturday, January 28 | 8:30am-12:30pm
  • Saturday, February 4 | 8:30am-12:30pm

Keynote: Dawn Songs – The Poetics of Migration; ages 14 & up - Join the award-winning team of J. Drew Lanham, PhD and Jamie K. Reaser, PhD for an exploration of migration at the interface of Nature and human nature. These literary naturalists will take you on a journey that spans miles, ecologies, and cosmologies. They will invite you into the deep terrain of birds and birders through the recitation of selected works from their upcoming anthology, Dawn Songs: A Birdwatcher's Field Guide to the Poetics of Migration.
  • Location: The Goode Center at Virginia Wesleyan (5817 Wesleyan Drive)
  • Free
  • Sunday, January 29 | 2:30-4pm

North Landing River Boat Tour; ages 10 & up – Join Moore to See Expeditions for an in-depth eco-tour of the marshlands that surround the North Landing River.  These areas provide critical habitat for many species of wintering waterfowl including snow geese, tundra swans and variety of ducks. Bald eagles are also a common site along this waterway.  This trip will provide many unique opportunities for taking nature photos.  All experience levels welcome. Please wear (and bring extra) warm layers, a hat, gloves or mittens, a wind- or water-proof outer layer, and waterproof shoes or boots for getting in and out of the boat.
  • Location: Meets at Pungo Ferry Boat Launch (2272 Old Pungo Ferry Road)
  • $35
  • Saturday, January 28 | 10am-12pm & 1pm-3pm
  • Sunday, January 29 | 10am-12pm
  • Friday, February 3 | 10am-12pm & 1pm-3pm
  • Saturday, February 4 | 10am-12pm & 1pm-3pm
  • Sunday, February 5 | 10am-12pm & 1pm-3pm

Notable Trees; ages 12 & up – Join Lynnhaven River Now's Captain Brent James in visiting some of Virginia Beach's Notable Trees! While seeing these trees up close you will learn history of the property on which they reside, their approximate ages, as well as their sizes relative to the state and national champion trees of that species. All experience levels welcome. It is recommended that you wear sturdy, waterproof footwear.  Transportation is included and required for participation.
  • $20
  • South: Sunday, January 29 | 9am-12pm
    •  Meets at Princess Anne Rec Center (14001 Nimmo Parkway)
  • North: Thursday, February 2 | 1pm-4pm
    • Meets at Bayside Rec Center (4500 First Court Road)
  • Central: Sunday, February 5 | 1pm-4pm 
    • Meets at Kempsville Rec Center (800 Monmouth Lane)

Owl Creek Watch; all ages – Come join staff at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Boat Dock and learn about the wildlife that inhabits the creek.  During the winter we see a large variety of birds on the creek including bald eagles, mergansers, bufflehead, egrets and herons; we have even seen a harbor seal or two make their way up the creek. Pre-registration is not required for this activity; stop by dock at any point during time frame. Aquarium admission is not required for participation.
  • Location: Meets at Virginia Aquarium Dock (717 General Booth Blvd.)
  • Free
  • Thursday, February 2 | 10:00am-2:00pm

Owl Prowl; ages 10 & up – Explore the night-time woods looking and listening for their nocturnal hunters. Great horned, barred and screech owls and other creatures of the night are all possibilities for these trips. Look up and keep your ears open as we discover what life is like for an owl. Meet at location. All experience levels welcome.
  • $10
  • Sunday, January 29 | 7pm-8pm
    • Location: Meets at Virginia Aquarium – South Building/Owls Creek Preservation Area (801 General Booth Blvd)
  • Tuesday, January 31 | 7pm-8pm
    • Location: Meets at Great Neck Park  (2513 Shorehaven Drive)
  • Thursday, February 2 | 7pm-8pm
    • Location: Meets First Landing State Park (2500 Shore Drive - Trail Center)

Pleasure House Point Bird Walk; ages 12 & up - This 188 acre site at Lynnhaven Inlet encompasses Maritime forest, beaches, marshes, and mudflats that were recently added to the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail. These varied habitats support a wide array of birds and wildlife like songbirds, raptors, and shorebirds and is home to many breeding diamondback terrapins.  At one time this site was targeted for intense development, but a partnership between the City of Virginia Beach, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and The Trust for Public Land made the preservation of this space possible.  Recommended for all levels.
  • Location: Meets at Pleasure House Point (3957 Marlin Bay Dr, please park along roadway)
  • $5
  • Sunday, February 5 | 8am - 10am

Princess Anne Wildlife Management Area Birding; ages 13 & up – This trip will visit the Beasley and Whitehurst Tracts of Princess Anne WMA where we will walk grassy, rustic paths to observe birds amongst the WMA's patchwork of marshes, fields, narrow freshwater impoundments, and pine woodland. This area is known for winter waterfowl, including snow geese, tundra swan, and green-winged teal. Raptors, wintering songbirds, and wading birds, such as white ibis and American bittern can also be found in the varied habitats here. **Please note that some of the trails may be wet or muddy this time of year; comfortable waterproof shoes or rubber boots are required.** Transportation is included and required for participation.  
  • Location: Meets at Princess Anne Rec Center (1400 Nimmo Parkway)
  • $15
  • Sunday, January 29 | 8am - 12pm

NEW Relationship of Winter Ecology on Birds; ages 12 & up -  Hop on board The Nature Bus for a unique experience. Our guide will be Dr. Shawn T. Dash, a Chesapeake Bay biodiversity specialist! Not only will you see birds, but you will learn more deeply about their lives in winter, as we explore the ecology of wintering plants and animals. You will explore some of the unique habitats of First Landing State Park, both the forested areas and the Chesapeake Bay beach. Your morning will be filled with expert driven explorations of winter's natural history of the region, spotting and enjoying the behavior of wintering waterfowl and resident bird species. We hope for the possible opportunity to glimpse Common Eiders or Razorbills. The variety of habitats allows views of wintering ducks, spotting numbers of migrant songbirds, and beholding the key assemblage of year around classics. Transportation is included and required for participation. Visit for more trip details; be sure to click the green button for important information!
  • Location: Meets at Mount Trashmore Park (310 Edwin Drive)
  • $45
  • Sunday, February 5 | 8am - 12pm

Waterfowl Walk; ages 12 & up - Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to thousands of ducks, geese and swans each winter. Join us for a one-mile guided walk along the bay as we search for and identify our winter visitors. Binoculars are recommended but not required. Recommended for experienced birders.
  • Location:  Meets at Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge (4005 Sandpiper Rd.)
  • Free
  • Saturday, January 28; Tuesday, January 31; Thursday, February 2 & Saturday, February 4 | 8am - 10am

Whale Watching Boat Trip; all ages - Join the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, the longest running and most experienced whale watching entity in Virginia, in an immersive encounter with some of the ocean's most magnificent creatures. Specialized educators will share a program built upon the Aquarium's scientific research and almost three decades of experience connecting guests with the area's marine mammal visitors. Trips take place on a spacious and stable catamaran that boasts one of the most comfortable rides in Virginia Beach, and has been outfitted especially for conducting dolphin & whale watching trips.  Experience spectacular views from the outdoor covered seating areas, or from cushioned seats inside a heated cabin. This ~2.5 hour adventure is an exploration in search of whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds. Marine mammal sightings are not guaranteed.  All experience levels welcome.
  • Location: Meets at Virginia Aquarium Dock (717 General Booth Blvd.)
  • $30, ages 12 & up
  • $25, ages 3-11
  • Free, under 3
  • Sunday, January 29 | 10am - 12:30pm
  • Thursday, February 2 | 2pm - 4:30pm
  • Sunday, February 5 | 10am - 12:30pm

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Community Art Project

 ‭(Hidden)‬ StoryWalk ®

 Wildlife Advocate Award

Mary Reid Barrow Wildlife Advocate Award

Named after Mary Reid Barrow, who devoted her entire career to engaging the public about our natural environment, the Wildlife Advocate Award was created in 2020 as a way to honor those in our community that strive to make a difference for wildlife and the environment. Barrow's weekly columns made nature relatable to the average person and she was a gentle, but tireless, advocate for wildlife. She continues to serve the community through her involvement with environmental non-profits and campaigns. 

The nomination period for the 2023 Mary Reid Barrow award has passed. Please stay tuned for updates and to hear about this year's winner!

2022's Winner: Reese Lukei

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Reese has been active in the wildlife community for over 30 years. He is a dedicated volunteer whose observations on raptor habits and habitats have been shared numerous ways and have benefited both biologists and bird enthusiasts alike. He has been a mentor to many in the wildlife community and is known for his love of engaging in discussions on the topic. 

He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Society and continues to volunteer time and expertise on refuge projects. An avid photographer, Reese is always willing to share his vast skill and knowledge with others. In 2017, the Reese F. Lukei, Jr. Raptor Trail – a network of trails in southeastern Virginia – was dedicated in appreciation of his decades of volunteer work with raptor conservation, wildlife education and nature trails.

Read the full press release here

2021's Winner: Meredith Broadhurst

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Broadhurst is a valued member of the wildlife rehabilitation community who goes above and beyond to help injured animals in need. Answering the calls of concerned citizens at all times of day or night, her dedication knows no bounds when it comes to assisting wildlife. To aid in her work, she raises funds and finds creative ways to educate the greater community through social media, outreach, training, and workshops. Through those efforts, she has also established a network of other caring individuals to share in the work of caring for the animals. It is for all of those reasons that she was nominated and selected as the 2021 award recipient. 
Read the press release.

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Resources

Special Thanks to our Festival Partners

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Contact Information