Love is in the air

Published 8:53 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

By Susan and Biff Andrews

Now that we are past the sticky-sweet commercialism of Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about the birds and the bees for a while … and another kind of love — love for our neighbors in the natural world.

On Saturday we spotted a juvenile bald eagle, probably in his second year, at the water’s edge of Lake Meade, chowing down on what appeared to be a substantial catfish.

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It took a while to identify this guy, because he has not yet developed the white feathers on his head and tail, characteristics of an adult bald eagle. In typical gangly teenager fashion, he had size and appetite down pat.

At first we thought he might be a vulture, because his feathers were so dark, but that thought quickly went away at closer inspection with the binoculars and a consultation with a field guide.

On Sunday it was a pileated woodpecker flitting from tree to tree. It is always a thrill to see these birds, because they are so flashy and large compared to the other varieties of woodpeckers we see around our house.

Seeing these magnificent creatures gives us a moment of otherworldly beauty and grace. It reminds us of the importance of making sure there is abundant suitable habitat in our communities for wildlife of every kind so we can ensure that all species thrive and participate in the delicate balance of the ecosystem that includes us.

Animal habitat is disappearing at an alarming rate, but there is some good news, and that is where the love comes in. There are some events coming up that will be a love-fest for the birds and the bees and all the other pollinators — and maybe even a few politicians and regular folks, too!

The monarch butterflies will be feeling the love in the town of Windsor. The mayor has declared March “Monarch Month,” has taken the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch pledge and has teamed with the Virginia Master Naturalists of the Historic Southside to promote monarch-friendly policies and increase monarch habitat in her municipality.

On March 11, officials will break ground on a new monarch and pollinator learning garden in front of the Windsor Library.

The master naturalists have also put a lot of love into their pollinator garden, which was recently started at the Isle of Wight County courthouse. Benches have been added, and a walking trail is being cleared, with some help from the Boy Scouts.

Students at Windsor Elementary are sharing the love, too. Mrs. Arden’s art students are learning about butterflies and using butterfly field guides as inspiration to make artwork, which will be on display March 9. Awards for contest winners will be given out the following Saturday at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The Suffolk Master Gardeners have lots of love — they maintain several pollinator gardens throughout Suffolk — and they will be sharing the love and selling plants on April 22 at the Suffolk Earth and Arts Festival hosted by Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church to benefit the Hope for Suffolk Community Garden.

So mark your calendars and plan to join these events and share the love!

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at