Local Food Hub Annual Partner Producer Meeting

photo 1We are always delighted that the Local Food Hub comes to the Baldwin Center at Bundoran Farm for their annual meeting. This year’s meeting was held on Jan. 23rd, which a very cold Thursday!  A frigid start to the day doesn’t slow down the Local Food Hub or these local farmers and there was a great turn out for the annual event.

The Local Food Hub is a non-profit organization that distributes food from our local farmers to our schools, hospitals, food banks, restaurants, nursing homes and more. To learn more about the Local Food Hub and find out how you may be able to get involved, go to www.localfoodhub.orgphoto 2

There was much to be learned at this meeting and Bundoran Farm looks forward to continuing support and having the Baldwin Center for Preservation Development be a part of the annual Local Food Hub Partner Producer Meeting.   Also, thanks for lunch, it was excellent!

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    Bundoran Farm Wildlife Management Team Cookout 2013 by Jonathan Shannon

    What a treat! Jim Wynne and the Bundoran Wildlife Management Team held a cookout this past Saturday for our owner’s resident’s and neighbors at the Baldwin Center. The gathering was a great success and Jim’s cooking was fantastic.

    It was great to see such a crowd at the Baldwin Center to enjoy what would have been otherwise a rainy afternoon. Members of the team where in attendance to meet and share insight on our quality deer management practices here at Bundoran Farm for our owners and residents. We were also treated to a very informative presentation by Steve Owen’s, Wildlife Biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

    This was yet another example of the way of life here at Bundoran Farm. Wildlife, culture, nature, friends, neighbors and good food! Can’t ask for much more on a Saturday afternoon. Thanks again to Jim, Steve, members of our Wildlife Management Team, owners and residents for making this annual event such a success!

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      Through the Garden Gate 2013 by Jonathan Shannon

      Bundoran Farm is proud to announce that Dorothy and Bill Tompkins and Mary and Bill Tillman’s gardens were chosen for the sites of the 2013 “Through the Garden Gate” tour on Saturday, September 14th.

      There was a wonderful turnout to view the work our residents have done with their gardens. The Tompkins have made priority to providing native plants and perennials and extensive warm season grasses. Two large white oaks provide shade for ferns and other woodland perennials while the easterly facing lot provides many areas with full sun. The Tillman’s started with the challenge of only one tree for shade and a lot on the edge of an old red clay pasture. Over the years they have adapted to their conditions and created an excellent vegetable garden and many beautiful flowers.

      Both the Tompkins and Tillman’s have spent countless hours working in their gardens and it is great to see they were chosen as features of this year’s tour. Props to you Dorothy, Mary and Bill’s!

      Photograph of Dorothy showing the visitors all the hard work taken by Bundoran resident photographer John Foraste.

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        Barn Owl’s Find New Home at Bundoran Farm by Jonathan Shannon

        Thanks to Bill and Mary Tillman and The Wildlife Center of Virginia, three rescued Barn Owls (Tyto Alba) can now call Bundoran Farm their home. Bill has a Barn Owl box which he mounted in a tree on the edge of the Tillman woods, close to one of Bundoran’ s agricultural pastures. A conversation took place and Bill was in contact with The Wildlife Center of Virginia. http://wildlifecenter.org/


        As timing would have it, the center had three Barn Owls that were ready for release back into the wild. So, the owls were on their way to Bundoran Farm. The habitat in which they were released at the Tillman’s is just what the Barn Owl likes. A field edge with good roosting sights, the agricultural pasture holds rodents (Barn Owls favorite meal) and a sufficient water source close by. The vantage point from the Tillman’s is ideal as the provided “home site” is atop the pasture hill which has a great and vast visibility for the owls.


        Barn Owl’s in general are nocturnal and usually hunt at night. However, it is not completely uncommon for them to be out during the day. They have good eye sight in low light and excellent hearing. The opening of one ear on this bird is higher than the other enabling it the outstanding capability to locate prey at the ground level. Additionally, the disc like shape of the face acts like a type of radar dish deflecting sound to the ears. These are just a couple cool facts about the Barn Owl. To learn more; http://www.buzzle.com/articles/barn-owl-facts.html

        The release was a success and there was an enthusiastic crowd gathered to watch the owls take their first flight at Bundoran. Way to go Mary, Bill and the Wildlife Center of VA team! Bundoran Farm looks forward to more experiences like this!

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          The American Kestrel by Dorothy Tompkins

          The American Kestrel

          Falco sparverius

          The American Kestrel, Falco sparverius,  can be seen in Albemarle County year round.  They prefer open habitats covered by short ground vegetation, such as along Plank Road and the fields of Bundoran.  It is the smallest and most widespread North American falcon.  The specific name sparverius was given to it by Linnaeus because of its mistaken connection with the European sparrowhawk which is in a different genus, Accipiter.   The facial pattern is distinctive, with one vertical black stripe across the malar region and another across the auricular area.   The male has blue gray wings and a rufous tail with a single broad black band.  The female is slightly larger and has rufous wings barred with black and has multiple bands on the tail.  In flight it has a characteristic falcon silhouestte with long pointed wings and deep wing-beats.

          The kestrel migrates from its northern most breeding grounds in Canada and the northern US to spend the winter in many of the “lower 48” and Central America. In the southern US some individuals are resident year round and some move about in the winter.

          Even though kestrels prefer open habitats they need perches and nest trees.  They may be seen on braches of large trees or power lines when looking for prey.   Occasionally they “hover-hunt”.   Insects and small rodents, especially grasshoppers, beetles, mice and voles, are predominant in their diets but small birds and reptiles are eaten.  Both sexes will cache uneaten remains and surplus kills in tree limbs fence posts, grass clumps etc for later use.

          Kestrels breed and nest in April and May in our area.  The male locates potential nest cavities, then escorts the female to them.  The female apparently selects the site.   They are “obligatory” secondary cavity nesters, using woodpecker excavated holes and natural cavities.   Nest boxes are sometimes used, usually when well concealed by vegetation.  They prefer cavities surrounded by large open areas with perching areas nearby or along the edges of forests.  The female lays 4 to 5 eggs and both parents (predominantly the female) incubate the eggs using incubation patches.  After about 28 days the eggs hatch; the altricial young are almost naked.  All of the brooding is done by the female; after 8-10 days the young are developed enough to maintain their body temperature during the day and the female stays on the nest only at night.

          Density of kestrels in an area varies greatly, as does nesting density.  Nesting boxes can increase the density particularly if cavities for nesting are limited.  Nesting or roosting boxes can be important for overwintering birds as well.  Twentieth century farming practices of large areas of monoculture without hedgerows or edge habitat have reduced Kestrels’ habitat.  Nesting boxes have been associated with a reversal of kestrel decline in many areas.

          Kestrels have been successfully raised in captivity more than any other native North American “hawk”.   Hand-reared kestrel commonly exhibit play behavior and single-sex colonies do not show overt physical aggression.Kestrel’s have 3 main types of vocalizations; the klee call, consisting of 3-6 notes,  is most often heard from stressed or excited birds.  The whine callis made by both sexes during courtship as well as in response to human disturbance.  The chitter call is used by both sexes when interacting with the opposite sex or with other kestrels.

          Kestrel vocalizations can be heard:



          An excellent site to read more about kestrels and nesting boxes is:


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            Brown-headed Cowbird by Dorothy Tompkins

            Brown-headed Cowbird

            Molothrus ater

            Brown-headed cowbirds are common in Bundoran and widespread throughout “the  lower forty eight” except for southern Florida.  Originally they were limited to short-grass plains where they followed herd of buffalo feeding on the insects stirred up by the buffalo.  Since they moved about with the buffalo and did not stay in one place long enough to nest and raise young they developed “brood parasitism”, laying their eggs in other birds’ nests.  As Europeans settled the country and opened up forests the cowbirds have greatly expanded their range and the birds whose nests they utilize.


            In a heavy snow late this winter cowbirds began visiting one of my bird feeders for the first time.   They have continued to come back occasionally to eat the sunflower seeds.   Even though the cowbirds liked insects stirred up by the herds they used to follow, it turns out they eat more seeds than insects in recent populations studied.  Females also will eat eggs removed from parasitized nests.


            Brown-headed cowbirds are found in our area year-round.  They do exhibit short distance migration between breeding and wintering habitats.  In winter they are usually in mixed species blackbird flocks.   They prefer scattered trees among grassland vegetation and are often found in pastures.


            Because cowbirds are “generalists” when selecting nests to lay their eggs in they are quite successful in their parasitism: they can always find some nests to lay their eggs in.  Cowbird populations seem to have stabilized after expanding out of the Great Plains.  Host birds have developed some strategies that help keep the cowbird population from continuing to expand.   American Robins, Blue Jays, Brown Thrashers,  Gray Catbirds and Northern Orioles eject the cowbird eggs from their nests.  The yellow warbler will build a new nest on top of the parasitized nest, burying her own eggs as well as the cowbird eggs.   Some birds will abandon a parasitized nest.  Blue Jays will eat fledgling cowbirds.


            Female cowbirds lay many more eggs in a season than do birds who raise their young.  Since the female does not need to expend energy raising young she will lay about one day a day during the breeding season.  One research study concluded that females lay about 40 eggs per season.  Overall survival of cowbird eggs from laying until leaving the nest is only 13% because of the strategies mentioned above.   But if the host bird treats the cowbird egg as one of her own the survival is 36%.


            Cowbirds are a threat to the survival of a few species: Kirtland’s warbler, Blac-capped Vireo and Least Bell’s Vireo.   They are no significant threat to birds that nest in “deep” woods since they are found in grasslands and fragmented forested areas.


            The cowbird is quite vocal, with a liquid song and many squeaks.  The link below has numerous recordings under the “Sound” tab.



            Submitted by Dorothy Tompkins

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              American Robin by Dorothy Tompkins

              AMERICAN ROBIN

              Turdus migratorius

              April 2013


              We have been seeing many American Robins flocking in Bundoran this winter and early spring.  The American Robin, Turdus migratorius, is the largest and most abundant North American thrush.  Migratorius means wandering as well as truly migratory and in the mid-Atlantic states robins are more wandering than actually migratory.  Large wintering roosts are often established in Virginia but these flocks shift their concentrations with weather changes and to find food.  Birds who nest in Canada or more northern states do migrate to the southern states and Mexico for the winter.


              The robin is easy to recognize by its coloration, stance and song..  The male has a blackish head and both male and female have rich rufous underparts with white throat streaks.  The juvenile is distinguished by black spotting on its underparts.  The robin usually runs along the ground then stands “proudly” to look about.  It feeds on terrestrial invertebrates and fruit.   Hence our late heavy snow made it difficult for a few days for the robins to find some of their usual food.  When seeking earthworms robins demonstrate the “Head-Cock” and “Bill-Pounce” behavior that is so characteristic of them.  Robins also feed on native berries including juniper (red cedar), and chokecherry.   They can become intoxicated from the berries of non-native honeysuckle.  Robins lack the enzyme sucrose in their digestive systems and avoid fruits with that sugar.  They will regurgitate fruit seeds, especially if the seeds are relatively large: birds have many adaptations to reduce the amount of weight they carry when flying!


              The song of the male robin at dawn or dusk is a complex array of familiar syllables that have a liquid quality.  There is a less familiar “whisper song” often heard at the end of the characteristic song.  Whisper syllables have a greater range of frequencies and higher frequencies.  Both males and females produce a variety of calls and notes.  A loud alarm call in response to predators is distinctive.  Males sing more frequently before mating but continue during nesting season.


              The female constructs the nest; working from the inside, she constructs the outer wall with dead grass and twigs, occasionally adding other material, then adding mud from worm castings, and finally lining the nest with fine pieces of dead grass.  Completion of the nest can be delayed by dry weather and the lack of mud.


              Beginning in April eggs are laid one day at a time for 3 to 4 days, then the female incubates the eggs for 12-14 days.  Eggs vary in color from “Nile” blue to a deep grayish blue.  Hatchlings are altricial, completely dependent on the parents for food and temperature regulation.  They are so immature that the skin is translucent and the greenish gall bladder as well and the purplish-red liver can be seen through the skin.  The egg tooth may be retained until fledging.  Eyes open on day 5, and fledging occurs at 9-16 days after hatching.  Both parents feed the young.


              Robins are important prey items for Coopers’s and Sharp-shinned  hawks and domestic cats.  Snakes, ravens, blue jays and house cats eat the eggs and young of robins.  Robins recognize and reject the eggs of cowbirds by puncturing and removing the eggs.


              Like all birds robins engage in frequent preening: keeping their feathers in good condition is a must for efficient flight as well as warmth.


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                Ring-necked ducks at Bundoran

                Ring-necked ducks have been on Lake Scogo this March because this species prefers wetlands with a stable water level and abundant emergent and submerged plants and temporally flooded areas.  With the water level so high this winter in Scogo it is a perfect area for these ducks.  March and April are peak migration times and they are pairing up for this breeding season.


                Ring-necked ducks nest predominantly in Canada with an extension of nesting area into Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin.   They winter in the southern and western states, with an extension along the eastern seaboard.   We are near the western edge of their winter habitat in Virginia.  They feed on plants in very moist soil, and aquatic plants and their seeds as well as aquatic invertebrates.  They feed mostly by diving, but sometimes “tip” or dabble at or just below the water surface.  They may ingest food during a dive, or bring it up to clean or separate out edible parts.


                Since ring-necked ducks are diving ducks their legs are more posterior than birds that walk on land and they are quite awkward on land.  Their feet and strong legs propel them underwater.


                The ring-necked duck has a distinctive white wedge extending upward in the area in front of the folded wing, a white area at the base of the bill and a white band near the tip of the bill.  The male has a black head, neck breast and upper parts with whitish to grayish belly and flanks.  It is distinguished by a peaked angular head profile.   The female is grayish brown and darkest on top of the head and has a white eye ring.


                Ring-necked ducks’ populations have appeared to be fairly stable in the past few decades.  Life span has been documented from tagging to be about 20 years.


                Ring-necked ducks sounds can be heard at the following link:


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                  Bundoran Farm Presents Innovation in Agriculture Award

                  This fall, Bundoran Farm and Local Food Hub were proud to launch the first ever Innovation in Agriculture Award.  The award’s concept originated from Bundoran Farm’s commitment and belief in the conservation and sustainability of the rich agricultural heritage of Central Virginia.  

                  This $1,500 award recognized a small-scale family farmer who has demonstrated creativity and innovation in order to grow or expand their farm business.  Selected by a 5-person committee, we were delighted to present Bundoran Farm’s first Innovation in Agriculture Award to Mike Clark founder of Planet Earth Diversified.

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                    The Louisiana Waterthrush

                    The Louisiana Waterthrush 

                    Parkesia motacilla


                    The lovely, resonant song  of the Louisiana Waterthrush with its descending notes is one of the delightful indications that spring is really here.  The Waterthrush returns from wintering in Central America and the West Indies to look for nesting sites along relatively unpolluted headwater streams.   The male returns before the female and until he finds a mate he sings vigorously all day.  Once a mate is acquired his singing is predominantly in the morning.   The female also sings, though a shorter version of the song, as well as gives the same calls as the male.

                    The Louisiana Waterthrush is noted for constantly wagging its tail in a teetering motion as it forages.  Both the generic and specific name mean “tail-wagger”.

                    Louisiana Waterthrush populations and successful reproduction are decreased by the lack of benthic macroinvertebrates found in healthy streams and by the impact of acid rain on streams.  Thus this species is an indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

                    Preferred nesting sites are along fast flowing small steams, frequently at the headwaters of the streams.  Hence western Albemarle County is a good area to find them.  In upland forests the nest is usually placed in a cavity along a stream bank.  The male and female both walk along looking for the site.  The male will enter a potential site, turn around several times and drag nearby leaves into the cavity.   If the female does not enter, he follows her further up the stream to explore other sites.   Once she enters a site that is acceptable they both gather leaves from the immediate area to build the nest.   Once the nest is finished there is often a delay until the female begins laying one egg a day until 5 eggs are laid.  The eggs are approximately one third the mass of the female.  Incubation by the female begins the day before the last egg is laid and all of the eggs hatch the same day, after 10-14 days of incubation.  They leave the nest at 10 days of age.

                    The young are given the same food as the adults eat.  The predominate food consists of adult and immature stages of aquatic invertebrates.  They may forage along the forest floor, trails, and even in gardens and in trees if there is a shortage of food near their nest.

                    The brown-headed cowbird will frequently lay eggs in the Louisiana Waterthrush nest.  The adults will chase the cowbirds but if the cowbird is successful in laying in the nest the waterthrush may bury the alien egg under the floor of the nest, or peck, puncture and discard the cowbird eggs.   Since the eggs are similar in size and the cowbird will remove a host egg for each parasitic egg laid, sometimes the waterthrush will raise both species.  In some areas  studied cowbird parasitism led to a 50% reduction in fledglings of waterthrushes.

                    To  see a picture of and hear the song of the Louisiana Waterthrush go to:


                    and click on “Sound”

                    Submitted by Dorothy Tompkins

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