Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory's Mission

"Protecting Wildlife through Field Research, Education and Habitat Conservation for 25 Years"

CVWO's Annual Report for 2019

If you are having trouble opening the file below, you can also use this Dropbox link to access a downloadable PDF of CVWO's annual report.

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CVWO's Brief history

CVWO Was Founded In 1994

In April 1994, the Observatory was established as the 501 (c ) 3 non-profit K.E.St.R.E.L. with Bill Williams of Williamsburg as founding President. The name was later changed to Coastal Virginia Wildlife Observatory. The mission is “Protecting wildlife through field research, education and habitat conservation.”

The Board of Directors is all-volunteer. Seasonal biology staff are hired for hawkwatching, Monarch tagging and education. A large corps of volunteers assists with all program areas.

There are five teams: Songbird Research, Raptor Research, Butterfly Research, Waterbird Research and Education.

Partnerships include Kiptopeke State Park, Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Northwest River Park in Chesapeake, James City County Parks and Recreation, Williamsburg Bird Club, Hampton Roads Bird Club, the Virginia Society of Ornithology, Colonial National Historical Park at Jamestown, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hawk Migration Association of North America, Monarch Joint Venture, Monarch Watch and the Butterfly Monitoring Network of North America.

The Observatory has funded songbird banding and hawk banding by other organizations and has conducted its own banding programs at Kiptopeke State Park and First Landing State Park. The Observatory participates in the Prothonotary Warbler Nesting Program, in conjunction with Virginia Commonwealth University and partners with Richmond Audubon Society in the study of Northern Saw-whet Owls.

The Observatory operates the Kiptopeke Hawkwatch, which began in 1977 and the College Creek Hawkwatch, which began in 1997.

The Observatory provides grants to graduate students studying birds in Virginia.

The Observatory celebrated its 25th anniversary this year with multiple events, parties, workshops, an annual birding competition and the release of a new book by president Brian Taber entitled Riding the Wind: A Birder’s Ups and Downs (see below).

Since 1977, CVWO has conducted raptor research during fall migration at Kiptopeke State Park located on Virginia's Eastern Shore. During this time, raptor populations have declined due to habitat loss and pesticides, as well as other factors. CVWO's research contributes to international data bases, scientific insight, and preservation of these magnificent birds of prey. 

Experienced biologists are hired each year to conduct the Hawkwatch, from September 1 to November 30, assisted by a corps of dedicated volunteers. Thanks to new technology, called Dunkadoo, you can also view the live Hawkwatch count from Kiptopeke on CVWO’s website. 

Over the past decades, CVWO has recorded nearly 900,000 hawks and vultures of 19 species. Visitors are always welcome.

 You can view CVWO’s video interviews with their hawk biologists on our YouTube channel here: 


Celebrate CVWO's 25th Anniversary!

Riding the Wind: A Birder's Ups and Downs

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Riding the Wind, by CVWO's president, Brian Taber, is a celebration of birds, birding and conservation. The book - released in honor of CVWO's 25th anniversary this year - features essays, some previously published in magazines. Twenty illustrations by award-winning artist Julie Zickefoose accompany the birding stories inside and the cover art is by CVWO Hawkwatcher, Anna Stunkel. The book is a fundraiser for CVWO.

You can purchase a copy of Riding the Wind with the PayPal link below, or visit local Williamsburg bird stores, Wild Birds Unlimited and Backyard Birder, for signed copies of the book.

"Brian writes engagingly of his birding life over the years with essays on his experiences in Arizona, Costa Rica and many other places and times and of course, Virginia. Has two cover color paintings by Anna Stunkel, 19 black and white sketches by Julie Zickefoose and a Foreword by Pete Dunne. "  -- Harry Armistead

CVWO's Research projects

CVWO's Research Projects

  • Kiptopeke Hawkwatch
  • Annual Kiptopeke Challenge
  • The Big Sit (one day bird survey)
  • College Creek Hawkwatch
  • Songbird Research, including Prothonotary Warbler projects at Dragon Run and Newport News.
  • New Jamestown Marina Butterfly Garden
  • Kiptopeke Butterfly Garden
  • SouthRiver Mercury Dietary Transfer
  • Annual Williamsburg Area Butterfly Count
  • Delmarva July Butterfly Count
  • Monarch Butterfly Migration Program
  • Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel Summer Bird Survey
  • Wood Duck Monitoring in Newport News
  • Waterbird Research at Craney Island
  • Motus Wildlife Tracking System at Craney Island
  • Creole Pearly-eye Butterfly Monitoring in Colonial National Historical Park
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl Project

American Bird Conservancy
Virginia Society of Ornithology
Virginia Master Naturalist
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Virginian Bird Conservation Initiative
Williamsburg Bird Club


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