Who We Are

CVWO is a non-profit organization founded in 1994 with a mission of "protecting wildlife through field research, education and habitat conservation. 

Our multiple and diverse wildlife research projects contribute to national science databases, local educational programs, and a furthering of our insight and stewardship into our natural world.

The Observatory is committed to the study of birds and butterflies and to conservation. The area around the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, in coastal Virginia, with its varied habitat types, is globally significant for migratory birds and hosts a tremendous diversity of wildlife. More rare birds have been found here than anywhere else in Virginia. 

The Observatory was begun in 1994 as a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization, to expand on the songbird and hawk studies that were begun by volunteers in 1963 on land which later became Kiptopeke State Park, on Virginia's Eastern Shore. In addition to conducting programs at Kiptopeke and other Eastern Shore sites, we're involved in activities near Richmond, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. 

We accomplish our field research through the hiring of seasonal biologists and a corps of dedicated volunteers. Our data is sent to a number of international databases for sharing and analysis. We provide educational material on the website, through printed literature and through presentations to visitors. 

We trust that individuals, schools and other organizations will find our website and our organization a valuable resource. We invite you explore the website, to visit our programs...see the calendar for more details...to ask questions through our contact page and to read our newsroom and blog for updates. 

Also, please feel free to share your thoughts on our social media pages. 

Interested in joining the wildlife conservation effort? Select the membership button! Your support is important!

Become a member, support our projects and share our work on social media!


Why it's important

A Global Migratory Hotspot

Satellite photo of the lower Chesapeake Bay area, showing the diverse geographic features and illustrating how birds traveling down the Atlantic coast during late summer and fall migration become concentrated at a critical stopover site at the tip of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, near Kiptopeke. 

Some birds cross the 30 kilometer stretch of water to the Virginia mainland shore, while others return north to search for an alternate route. During spring migration, birds generally travel up the western shore of Chesapeake Bay. First Landing State Park, in the midst of a huge urban area, is an important spring migration site. 

Map Key:

  1. Chesapeake Bay
  2. York River
  3. James River
  4. Kiptopeke State Park
  5. Eastern Shore of Virginia and Fisherman Island National Wildlife Refuges
  6. First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach
  7. Atlantic Ocean

Satellite photo NASA Earth Observatory


board of directors

Brian Taber, President

​Dave Youker, Vice President

Shirley Devan, Secretary

Ann Carpenter, Treasurer

Nancy Barnhart, Williamsburg Bird Club representative 
Andy Hawkins, Hampton Roads Bird Club representative 
Dr. Sheila Scoville

Lisa Reagan

Cheryl Jacobson, Virginia Society for Ornithology Representative

Riding the Wind, by CVWO's president, Brian Taber. Click to order.

Riding the Wind, by CVWO's president, Brian Taber. Click to order.

CVWO Advisors

Dr. Robert Ake 
Dennis Baker 
Ruth Boettcher, Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries
Larry Brindza 
Dr. Ned Brinkley
Dr. Mitchell Byrd, Center for Conservation Biology, The College of William and Mary, and Virginia Commonwealth University

Dan Cristol, College of William and Mary
Dorothy Field, Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, Div. of Natural Heritage
Mark Garland
Earl Hodnett
Dr. Robert Reilly, Virginia Commonwealth University
Jill Bieri, Virginia Coast Reserve of the Nature Conservancy
Sue Rice 
Forrest Gladden, Kiptopeke State Park, Virginia Dept. of Conservation and Recreation
Dr. Bryan Watts, Center for Conservation Biology, The College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University
Bill Williams

Bill Williams at the CVWO 25th Anniversary Celebration at Williamsburg Botanical Gardens.

Bill Williams at the CVWO 25th Anniversary Celebration at Williamsburg Botanical Gardens.


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