Established in 1897, ANS began with a mission to protect birds from slaughter for fashion. Today, our mission has expanded to help residents of the DC metro region enjoy, learn about, and protect all aspects of nature.
ANS is headquartered in the historic Woodend Mansion at Woodend Nature Sanctuary. The diversity of habitats at Woodend supports innumerable species of insects that in turn feed many species of birds and other animals.
What does that mean for you? It means there is a lot to see, learn and enjoy! Purple wildflowers, bright red beetles, blue and yellow polka-dotted salamanders are among the many natural wonders waiting to be discovered at Woodend Nature Sanctuary.
(Click the image for larger view)
One of Woodend’s oldest trees is an enormous Black Walnut.
It has provided food for squirrels and nesting places for birds for nearly 100 years.
Look for it along the drive, just below the mansion parking lots.
This easily grown native plant thrives under a Black Walnut tree in our restored meadow. It feeds birds and butterflies with its nectar and seeds, while producing glorious yellow blooms all season long.
Many birds and mammals rely on acorns, while more than 500 species of caterpillars feed on Oak leaves. Want more wildlife in your yard? Plant an Oak! We’ll be doing it here at Woodend as we restore our forest.
Used by Native Americans for medicinal teas, this plant is in the mint family and graces our restored meadow with an expanse of pale purple in early summer.
The Prickly-pear is native to Maryland and can be found in the sandy soils of the coastal plain, as well as the rocky soils of the mountainous regions.
Look for this summer bloomer in the native plant collection of the Blair Garden.
Six species of woodpeckers are frequently observed at Woodend. The two smallest are the Downy and Hairy, medium-sized are Red-Bellied, Northern Flickers, and Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers. Much larger than the others is the Pileated Woodpecker, seen in the photo.
WOODLAND BOX TURTLE
These charming reptiles are frequently encountered along our trails. If you find one with red eyes, it is a male. Females have brown eyes.
The Yellow-Spotted Salamander spends most of its time underground, but between March and May they can be found under logs as they make their way to breed in the pond.
The other common salamander at our sanctuary is a Red-backed Salamander, which spends all of its time under logs and debris in the woods.
Similar in shape to the more familiar cardinal, these birds are often found in flocks, feasting on ripe fruits, including the blue berries of its namesake tree.
Look for the bright red milkweed beetle on the leaves of the plant for which it is named. Its coloring sends a warning signal to predators that it is toxic.
Many Opportunities to Engage
The Audubon Naturalist Society offers a wide variety of activities and resources to engage with nature throughout the DC-metro region and beyond. We have a nature preschool, camps year-round, teach environmental education at schools in MD, VA, and DC, host and sponsor conservation events, conferences, and nature-themed celebrations. Our Rust Sanctuary in Leesburg, VA is also home to programs and events.
Please note: Woodend’s vehicle entrances feature deer exclusion grates, which also preclude pedestrians and cyclists from crossing. All pedestrians and cyclists should enter Woodend through either the pedestrian entrance on Jones Mill Road to the right of the vehicle entrance or the pedestrian entrance on Brierly Road to the right of the vehicle entrance. Crossing the deer exclusion grates on foot or on a bicycle could result in injury.
Visit Woodend Sanctuary
Come enjoy the serenity of our wildflower meadow, walk our meandering trails, visit our native plant garden, and explore the aquatic life of our pond. And don’t miss the wonderful selection in our Audubon Naturalist Shop.
Admission is free. Trails are open daily dawn to dusk. Please leave your pets at home.