Bat visiting Woodley Park in 2012

From the Petworth listserv:

“To all Powell Elementary Parents,

This evening [Tuesday] while playing baseball with my son on the baseball field, my son and I, along with few other folks out on the field and soccer field, noticed hundreds of bats swarming inside the chimney of the school.

It looked like a scene from a halloween/Dracula movie. I stopped a police officer to see if he could alert the custodian since there was a door open to the school. The officer thought the section of the school thats connected to the chimney was blocked off, but wasn’t sure.

As we walked home, I’m was not sure if the officer was able to talk to anyone at the school tonight because I saw him ride towards the back of the school since no one answered the front door. We wanted parents to be aware in order to take the necessary precautions on Wednesday morning.

I’m hoping the school is sectioned off from the bats for the safety of all the students.”

Fortunately another member responds:

“Did you get a close look?

These could be Chimney Swifts – small birds that could be mistaken for bats – kinda look like cigars with wings. These birds roost in chimneys in groups, and may swarm around these roosts in the evening. During fall migrations these groups can be large.

They pose no threat. Practically speaking, neither would bats, for that matter. Little Brown Bats would be the common bat around here. They eat insects (mosquitoes) and have been hit hard with a fungus in recent years, making them much less common. We definitely want them around.”

Ed. Note: Back in June we learned a Big Brown bat in Ward 1, was determined rabid by the DC Department of Health. Fortunately Powell is in Ward 4.


A reader writes:

“It was hanging out on the steps to our English basement near Lincoln Park. Apparently it’s copperhead birthing season.

Update: My roommate works at the Museum of Natural History, so she’s talking to some herpetologists there. Right now, we’re just leaving through the garage….

Update: Official verdict is that it’s not a copperhead! Juvenile ratsnake (pantherophis alleghaniensis)”

Ed. Note: Heads up. Literally. Last May/June we talked about rat snakes falling out of trees in Cleveland Park and Adams Morgan.


Thanks to a reader for sending:

“My husband spotted this little guy as we were awaiting the metro yesterday. The groundhog has made his burrow on the hill to the right of the sign where you can see him sitting at the entrance. He blends in a bit with the brown earth. Perhaps other readers have spotted him.”

Looks like a corpulent squirrel to me but I’m gonna take your word for it :)

Update: Thanks to another reader for sending a close up!


Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

Terrible update to our snowy owl who was hit by a bus in Jan. then taken to Minnesota for care then released into the wild. The Raptor Center reports:

“Sadly, we’re writing today to let you know that The Raptor Center has learned the snowy owl’s body has been recovered from the shoulder of a Minnesota highway, near where he had been released last spring. The snowy’s cause of death is uncertain, but the placement of the body indicates he may have been hit by a vehicle. The body was in good condition, indicating the owl was successfully hunting, and was identifiable by a bird band placed on the leg prior to release.”

Photo via Washington Humane Society’s Facebook page

From the Washington Humane Society:

“The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was alerted to a Pygmy goat just running down the street! He had obviously taken a few wrong turns, and was calculating his next move when he was spotted on V Street, NE, between 31st and 33rd Streets.

WHS Animal Care and Control Officer Beth Phillips was quickly en route. Sure enough, a young, male goat had been corralled by MPD into their vehicle maintenance facility. Officer Phillips arrived and sprang into action, easily leashing up our new friend and guiding him safely into her van.

Back at the New York Avenue animal center, Billy was given a deluxe suite in our agility yard. For the first few days his fame overwhelmed him, so he rested beneath the stairs. But after settling in, and spying on the nearby dogs inquisitively, Billy took to exploring his temporary home and lying in the sun.

In the meantime, WHS searched for a more suitable habitat for Billy, and soon found one with our friends at Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary in Poolesville, MD. Just three days later, Billy was once more catching a ride, this time to his new home.”

Washington Humane Society

Photo by PoPville flickr user quemac

Last week we learned “Thus far, presence of West Nile Virus has been noted in Wards 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8″. Add Ward 3 to the list. From an email today:

“Per recent laboratory results received from our army collaborators on West Nile Virus surveillance, the following mosquito pool was found positive for West Nile Virus:

• one pool containing 2 Culex sp. mosquitoes, collected on July 29 and confirmed on August 6, from the Massachusetts Avenue Heights neighborhood in Ward 3.

Thank you,
Maria Hille
Supervisory Biologist, M.S., Animal Disease Control/HRLA DC Department of Health / Government of the District of Columbia”

Photo by PoPville flickr user quemac

From an email:

“Please be informed that the West Nile Virus (WNV) has made presence in the District of Columbia since early June. When we discussed the positive results last year from your area, I anticipated a similar outcome of WNV infection for 2014 summer. This year up to now, the following mosquito pools were reported positive for West Nile Virus on August 5:

• eleven total pools containing a total of 108 Culex sp. mosquitoes, collected on July 24 from the west of Ward 8 and confirmed on July 31.

• two pools containing a total of 31 Culex sp. mosquitoes, collected on July 22 from the south of Ward 5 and confirmed on July 31.

Thus far, presence of West Nile Virus has been noted in Wards 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Moreover, your area at the western location in Ward 8 has received continuous positive results during the month of July up to the present.

Thank you for your collaboration,
Maria Hille

Supervisory Biologist, M.S., Animal Disease Control/HRLA DC Department of Health / Government of the District of Columbia”

Uh – break out time to break out the deet!!


“Mosquitos are always of concern and problematic during the hotter months of the year and especially during times of increased rain fall. To that point, the best method of minimizing mosquitos is to be sure that all standing water has been removed from a property including flower pots, buckets, open bins and old tires. Any standing water present on a property allows for the breeding cycle of mosquitos to perpetuate as noted by the mosquito larvae found in the standing water.

Additionally, properties that have large amounts of vegetation and/or wooded areas are also areas of increased mosquito populations. Decreasing vegetation and trimming trees and bushes will also help to decrease the mosquito population.

The Department of Health is able to send an investigator to a property to evaluate the area and to make recommendations. The Department of Health can also provide mosquito larvacide to be placed in District street drains to help decrease the mosquito population. The District does NOT however, allow or provide for the spraying of mosquitos do to the negative environmental impact on multiple species of animals and plant life. In addition, spraying leads to the increased complications associated with District residents who may show signs of respiratory distress and/or allergic reaction.

Please let us know if you would like for a member of our team to evaluate your property for recommendations on mosquito infestation.

Thank you,
Vito R. DelVento, DVM, MS
Executive Director | Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners
Program Manager | Animal Services Program
DC Department of Health | Government of the District of Columbia
899 North Capitol Street, NE | 2nd Floor | Washington, DC 20002
Office: (202) 724-8813 | Mobile: (202) 420-9250 | Fax: (202) 535-1359 |”


DC Beekeepers getting international recognition! Thanks to a reader for sending from the BBC:

“When you see a swarm of honeybees swarming around the city, who you gonna call?

If you’re in Washington DC, a call to the DC Beekeepers Alliance summons a well-trained apiarist ready to capture the bees safely and find them a new home in a community garden or rooftop hive.”

We talked about this in April withIf You See a Bee Swarm Don’t Panic, It’s a Good Thing – Call (202) 255 4318 for Help by DC Beekeepers. And saw them in action at the Newark Street Community Garden.

Video after the jump for sizing reasons: (more…)