Blue Ridge Center
for environmental stewardship
preserve ~ experience ~ enjoy


With nearly 900 acres of land surrounded by a few thousand additional acres of protected and undeveloped land, the Blue Ridge Center is both home to wildlife and an indicator of ecological health of the Northern Blue Ridge. Whatever your interest, be it wildflowers or salamanders, the Blue Ridge Center has a rich diversity of wildlife to discover. We've identified 130 species of birds, 60 species of butterflies, and you can walk the trails looking for signs of fox and bobcat.

Read the details below to find out more information about the types of wildlife and variety of species living at the Blue Ridge Center:



Animals on the property are typical of those generally found within recovering mixed mesophytic Blue Ridge forests. The white footed mouse, eastern chipmunk, gray squirrel, and eastern cottontail number among the smaller species, with raccoon, and white-tailed deer among the larger. Coyotes, beavers, black bears and red and grey foxes have been sighted, and there is abundant evidence of bobcats.

Mammal Baseline Inventory

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Sciurus carolinensis


Lynx rufus

Black Bear

Ursus americanus


Marmota monax


Castor canadensis


Didelphis marsupialis

Striped Skunk

Mephitis mephitis

Eastern Cottontail

Sylvilagus floridanus

Eastern Chipmunk

Tamias striatus

White-footed Mouse

Peromyscus leucopus

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes


Procyon lotor

White-tailed Deer

Odocoileus virginianus

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The variety of birds found at the Blue Ridge Center is unique in the Mid-Atlantic region.  We have been named a "birding hotspot" by the Fairfax Audubon Society and are featured as a location in Virginia's Birding and Wildlife Trail. The Blue Ridge Center also serves as a release site for rehabilitated birds through the Raptor Society of Virginia.  Additionally, we're proud to host a monthly bird walk led by the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy; please check our online calendar for upcoming dates.  Conversely, use our "Birds of a Feather" trail map for a self-guided excursion.

A rich bird life is ensured at the Blue Ridge Center because of open fields, fence rows, riparian areas, deciduous forests, wetlands, ponds and rock outcrops. So far, 25 species of warblers have been identified, and our bird list stands at about 130 species. Wading birds, such as herons, are a common occurrence.  Open area species such as mourning doves and field sparrows, as well as birds of prey, benefit from the diverse habitats the Blue Ridge Center offers.  Wood ducks and double-crested cormorants are regular visitors to Gordon Pond.  Eastern bluebirds, Carolina wrens and tree swallows take full advantage of our 90+ bluebird boxes.

Since May of 2001, the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has sponsored International Migratory Bird Day bird counts here at the Blue Ridge Center. Thanks to the many volunteers that take part, we have added new birds to the list below every year. Some highlights include: summer tanager, northern harrier, cooper’s hawk, red-headed woodpecker, yellow-billed cuckoos, and incredible numbers of blue-winged warblers.  Read more in the table below or download our bird brochure.

Bird Baseline Inventory
Herons, Ibis and New World Vultures - Order: Ciconiiformes
Herons and Bitterns - Family: Ardeidae
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Green Heron Butorides striatus
New World Vultures - Family: Cathartidae
Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Swans, Geese and Ducks - Order: Anseriformes
Swans, Geese and Ducks - Family: Anatidae
Canada Goose Branta canadensis
Wood Duck Aix sponsa
Eagles, Kites, Falcons and Hawks - Order: Falconiformes
Eagles, Kites & Hawks - Family: Accipitridae
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperi
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus
Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Grouse, Turkey and Quail - Order: Galliformes
Grouse - Family: Phasianidae
Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus
Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo
Shorebirds - Order: Charadriiformes
Plovers - Family: Charadriidae
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Doves - Order: Columbiformes
Pigeons and Doves - Family: Columbidae
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
Rock Dove Columba livia
Cuckoos - Order: Cuculiformes
Cuckoos - Family: Cuculidae
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus
Owls - Order: Strigiformes
Owls - Family: Strigidae
Great Horned Owl Bubo virginianus
Barred Owl Strix varia
Swifts and Hummingbirds - Order: Apodiformes
Swifts - Family: Apodidae
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica
Hummingbirds - Family: Trochilidae
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris
Kingfishers - Order: Coraciiformes
Kingfishers - Family: Alcedinidae
Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon
Woodpeckers - Order: Piciformes
Woodpeckers - Family: Picidae
Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrophalus
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus
Perching birds - Order: Passeriformes
Flycatchers - Family: Tyrannidae
Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens
Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus
Vireos - Family: Vireonidae
White-eyed Vireo Vireo griseus
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus
Jays & Crows - Family: Corvidae
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Fish Crow Corvus ossifragus
Northern Raven Corvus corax
Swallows - Family: Hirundinidae
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
Chickadees & Titmice - Family: Paridae
Black-capped Chickadee Parus atricapillus
Carolina Chickadee Parus carolinensis
Tufted Titmouse Parus bicolor
Nuthatches - Family: Sittidae
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Wrens - Family: Troglodytidae
Carolina Wren Thryothorus ludovicianus
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Kinglets - Family: Regulidae
Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
Gnatcatchers - Family: Muscicapidae
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
Thrushes - Family: Turdidae
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Mockingbirds & Thrashers - Family: Mimidae
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos
Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum
Starling - Family: Sturnidae
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
Waxwings - Family: Bombycillidae
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
Warblers - Family: Parulidae
Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata
Blue-winged Warbler Vermivora pinus
Northern Parula Parula americana
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia
Black-throated Blue Warbler Dendroica caerulescens
Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea
Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata
Prairie Warbler Dendroica discolor
Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum
Bay-breasted Warbler Dendroica castanea
Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivora
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapillus
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla
Kentucky Warbler Oporornis formuosus
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla
Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina
Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens
Tanagers - Family: Thraupidae
Summer Tanager Piranga rubra
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
Towhees & Sparrows - Family: Emberizidae
Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Grasshopper Sparrow Ammodramus savannarum
Vesper Sparrow Pooecetes gramineus
Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Grosbeaks & Buntings - Family: Cardinalidae
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea
Blackbirds & Orioles - Family: Icteridae
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
Finches - Family: Fringillidae
Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis
Old World Sparrows - Family: Passeridae
House Sparrow Passer domesticus

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Photograph courtesy of Nicole HamiltonThe Blue Ridge Center's extensive habitat variety provides an excellent venue for butterfly enthusiasts. The land preserve at the Blue Ridge Center is invaluable for butterflies because, unfortunately, many species are rapidly losing habitat because they are highly vulnerable to pesticide pollution, often suffering from agricultural sprayings and mass sprayings against gypsy mothinfestations.

Butterlies were first surveyed at the Blue Ridge Center in 1998; species identified since then have been added to our inventory database. Currently, our butterfly list stands at about 60 species, notably including the gold-banded skipper. The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy holds an annual Loudoun County butterfly count every August, contributing greatly to butterfly conservation.


Swallowtails: Family Papilionoidea

Pipevine Swallowtail

Battus philenor

Zebra Swallowtail

Eurytides marcellus

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Papilio glaucus

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (black form)

Papilio glaucus

Black Swallowtail

Papilio polyxenes asterius

Spicebush Swallowtail

Papilio troilus troilus

Sulphurs & Whites: Family Pieridae

Cabbage White

Pieris rapae

Clouded Sulphur

Colias philodice philodice

Orange Sulphur

Colias eurytheme

Gossamer-wing Butterflies: Family Lycaenidae


Feniseca tarquinius

American Copper

Lycaena phlaeas americana

Coral Hairstreak

Satyrium titus mopsus

Banded Hairstreak

Satyrium calanus

Striped Hairstreak

Satyrium liparops strigosum

Red-banded Hairstreak

Calycopis cecrops

Gray Hairstreak

Strymon melinus

Eastern-tailed Blue

Everes comyntas

Spring Azure

Celatrina argiolus ladon

Brush-footed Butterflies: Family Nymphalidae


American Snout

Libytheana carinenta bachmanii

Heliconians & Fritillaries

Variegated Fritillary

Euptoieta claudia

Great Spangled Fritillary

Speyeria cybele cybele

Meadow Fritillary

Boloria bellona bellona

True Brush-foots

Pearl Crescent

Phyciodes tharos

Silvery Checkerspot

Chlosyne nycteis

Question Mark

Polygonia interrogationis

Eastern Comma

Polygonia comma

Mourning Cloak

Nymphalis antiopa antiopa

American Lady

Vanessa virginiensis

Painted Lady

Vanessa cardui

Red Admiral

Vanessa atalanta rubria

Common Buckeye

Junonia coenia

Admirals & Relatives

Red-spotted Purple

Limenitis arthemis astyanax


Limenitis archippus archippus


Hackberry Emperor

Asterocampa celtis celtis

Tawny Emperor

Asterocampa clyton

Satyrs & Wood Nymphs

Northern Pearly-eye

Enodia anthedon

Little Wood Satyr

Megisto cymela

Common Wood Nymph

Cercyonis pegala pegala



Danaus plexippus

Skippers: Family Hesperiidae

Open-Winged Skippers

Silver-spotted Skipper

Epargyreus clarus

Gold banded Skipper

Autochton cellus

Northern Cloudywing

Thorybes phylades

Southern Cloudywing

Thorybes bathyllus

Dreamy Duskywing

Erynnis icelus

Juvenal's Duskywing

Erynnis juvenalis

Horace's Duskywing

Erynnis horatius

Wild Indigo Duskywing

EErynnis baptisiae

Common Checkered Skipper

Pyrgus communis communis

Common Sootywing

Pholisora catullus

Branded Skippers

Clouded Skipper

Lerema accius

Least Skipper

Ancyloxypha numitor

Fiery Skipper

Hylephila phyleus

Peck's Skipper

Polites peckius

Tawny-edged Skipper

Polites themistocles

Crossline Skipper

Polites origenus

Northern Broken-dash

Wallengrenia egeremet

Little Glassywing

Pompeius verna verna


Atalopedes campestris huron

Zabulon Skipper

Poanes zabulon

Dun Skipper

Euphyes vestris metacomet

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Reptiles & Amphibians

The Blue Ridge Center offers excellent habitats for snakes, turtles, frogs, newts, toads and salamanders. Riparian habitats, rocky outcrops, seeps, historic structures, vernal pools, mulch piles and two fishless ponds are among the best environments. The streams, ponds, and wetlands of the Blue Ridge Center host a large number of reptiles and amphibians, including the Virginia-listed threatened wood turtle. Explore our trails and search for these species and more.

Did you know the Blue Ridge Center holds a Loudoun county record? In March of 2004, we found Marbled salamander. Thanks to Loudoun county high school students and Mike Hayslett of the Holiday Lake 4-H Educational Center, they found 11 larvae. Mike says this find represents a county record for Loudoun (i.e., the first formally documented site of this species in the county) and a surprising find, being located along the Blue Ridge scarp versus the eastern end of the county, where more are expected. Another unexpected find was the Jefferson salamander. The discovery of this population represents the third known site for the county.

Amphibian/Reptile Baseline Inventory

Salamanders: Order Caudata

Newts: Family Salamandridae

Red-spotted Newt

Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens

Lungless Salamanders: Family Plethodontidae

Redback Salamander

Plethodon cinereus

Northern Dusky Salamander

Desmognathus fuscus

Slimy Salamander

Plethodon glutinosus

Seal Salamander

Desmognathus Monticola

Northern Two-lined Salamander

Eurycea bislineata

Northern Red Salamander

Pseudotriton ruber ruber

Frogs & Toads: Order Salientia

True Frogs: Family Ranidae

Green Frog

Rana clamitans melanota

Pickerel Frog

Rana palustris

Wood Frog

Rana sylvatica

Treefrogs: Family Hylidae

Grey Tree Frog

Hyla versicolor or chrysoscelis

Spring Peeper

Psudacris crucifer

True Toads: Family Bufonidae

American Toad

Bufo americanus

Turtles: Order Chelonia

Pond and Box Turtles: Family Emydidae

Eastern Painted Turtle

Chrysemys picta picta

Wood Turtle

Clemmys insculpta

Eastern Box Turtle

Terrapene carolina carolina

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There are two primary streams on our land, Sweet Run and Piney Run, both of which contain a high diversity of fish for a small, first-order stream. Both streams are major drainages of the "Between the Hills" valley and lead north to the Potomac river. Water quality analysis of these streams tells us that they are healthy and capable of supporting a wide variety of life.

Sweet Run contains seven species of fish: pumpkinseed, white sucker, creek chub, blunt nose minnow, black nose dace, long nose dace, and fantail darter. In addition to those seven species, Piney Run also contains blue gill, red-breasted sunfish, green sunfish, northern hogsucker, silverjaw minnow, yellow bullhead, margined madtom, largemouth bass, and common shiner.  Fish in Sweet Run are less diverse due to its substantially colder water than Piney Run

Information in the table below was collected during the summers of 2000 and 2004.

Fish Baseline Inventory

Minnows: Family Cyprinidae

Silverjaw Minnow

Ericymba buccata

Common Shiner

Luxilus cornutus

Bluntnose Minnow

Pimephales notatus

Blacknose Dace

Rhinichthys atratulus

Longnose Dace

Rhinichthys cataractae

Creek Chub

Semotilus atromaculatus

Suckers: Family Catostomidae

White Sucker

Catostomus commersoni

Northern Hog Sucker

Hypentelium nigricans

Bullheads & Catfish: Family Ictaluridae

Yellow Bullhead

Ameiurus natalis

Margined Madtom

Noturus insignis

Sunfishes & Basses: Family Centrarchidae

Redbreast Sunfish

Lepomis auritus

Green Sunfish

Lepomis cyanellus


Lepomis gibbosus


Lepomis macrochirus

Black crappie

Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Largemouth Bass

Micropterus salmoides

Darters & Perches: Family Percidae

Fantail Darter

Etheostoma flabellare

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Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship

11661 Harpers Ferry Rd.

Purcellville, VA  20132



The Blue Ridge Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by donations

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