Gulf Branch Nature Center

Gulf Branch Nature Center Free and open to the public six days a week. Check out our live animals and exhibits, attend a virtual or in-person program, explore the park, and more!
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Please note: The nature center is temporarily closed due to Covid-19; however the park is open and naturalists are still providing outdoor and virtual programming! See below for more info. Set in a wooded stream valley, Gulf Branch Natural Area preserves and protects wildlife habitat while serving as an educational and recreational resource for the public. Staffed by friendly naturalists, the nature center houses exhibits about local natural and cultural history as well as live animals. Outside, visitors may check in with the barred owl and explore wooded trails, the stream, the pond, or the 3/4 mile trail to the Potomac River. Also located at the park are the Robert Walker Log House and a working forge operated by the Blacksmith's Guild of the Potomac. All of our programs and events can be found in our quarterly publication. Come by to pick up a copy, or access it on-line: https://parks.arlingtonva.us/nature-history/ See you soon!

Operating as usual

Now that the leaves have fallen, a friendly reminder to keep them on the ground!  If you have to rake, try raking into g...
12/08/2020
Leaf Litter Keeps Ground-Roosting Eastern Red Bats Warm

Now that the leaves have fallen, a friendly reminder to keep them on the ground!
If you have to rake, try raking into garden beds or tidy piles. DYK that eastern red bats hang out in the leaf litter on the coldest winter days?? #leavetheleaves #bats #tuesdaytips https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/compass/2014/02/20/leaf-litter-keeps-ground-roosting-eastern-red-bats-warm/#:~:text=When%20winter%20temperatures%20are%20not,temporarily%20hibernate%20underneath%20leaf%20litter.&text=Even%20a%20shallow%20layer%20of,air%20temperatures%20fall%20below%20freezing.

Fish & Wildlife Upland Hardwoods Leaf Litter Keeps Ground-Roosting Eastern Red Bats Warm by Sarah Farmer, Science Delivery Group  •  February 20, 2014 Eastern red bat. Photo by Anita Gould, courtesy of Creative Commons. When winter weather arrives, most bats hibernate in caves, but a few species...

We're offering virtual camp during winter break!  December 21-23 for ages 8 - 11 years.  Space is still available, sign ...
12/08/2020
Arlington County Parks and Recreation

We're offering virtual camp during winter break! December 21-23 for ages 8 - 11 years. Space is still available, sign up online! :)

Winter Explorers Virtual Nature Camp Dec. 21-23.

Join us for a three-day virtual camp to explore what local animals are doing at this time of year, and how they are surviving the cold winter months! Tune in each day of camp from 9-11 a.m. to play virtual games, learn a few songs, and create a few projects from the comfort of home.

Register: https://bit.ly/3gpd5Qs

We love this info from the U.N. on why trees are so important, especially in urban areas.  http://www.fao.org/zhc/detail...
12/08/2020
Building greener cities: nine benefits of urban trees

We love this info from the U.N. on why trees are so important, especially in urban areas. http://www.fao.org/zhc/detail-events/en/c/454543/ You can tell us how important you think trees are, too - submit your thoughts about our forestry and natural resources plan here: https://engage.arlingtonva.us/collections/forestry-and-natural-resources-plan?fbclid=IwAR2aON-ovY87Kk3Qqle9cYXFUGd-AGZkBg0J3s8WFTNLxfOLcRZ5n7PzBRA

For the first time in history, more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in towns and cities. By 2050, this number is expected to increase to 66 percent. The shift from rural to urban areas, mainly in Africa and Asia, is due to poverty and related socio-economic factors.

In December, our #MondayMystery posts will feature an evergreen. This evergreen has needles that grow in bunches of five...
12/07/2020

In December, our #MondayMystery posts will feature an evergreen. This evergreen has needles that grow in bunches of five! Post your guess below and we'll get back to you tomorrow with the correct answer! Photo credit: The Arbor Day Foundation.

Thanks to everyone who has dropped off food items in addition to their letters to Santa!   Let's get this bin completely...
12/06/2020

Thanks to everyone who has dropped off food items in addition to their letters to Santa! Let's get this bin completely filled for the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC)! We're almost there!

For the month of December, we'll be bringing you something fun to do with pinecones each Sunday!  This week, try a neat ...
12/06/2020
Gymnosperms: Pine Cone Experiment | Science project | Education.com

For the month of December, we'll be bringing you something fun to do with pinecones each Sunday! This week, try a neat experiment with pinecones! Can you figure out what makes them open and close? #SundayFunday https://www.education.com/science-fair/article/conifers/

Gymnosperms are coniferous trees that reproduces using pine cones to spread seeds. Check out this simple pine cone experiment to learn about the process!

Happy #wildilfewednesday! The small wren on the left is a Winter Wren, winter migrants from up north who spend their win...
12/02/2020

Happy #wildilfewednesday! The small wren on the left is a Winter Wren, winter migrants from up north who spend their winters in the eastern U.S. (except in some of the Appalachians, where they can be found year-round). The larger wren on the right is a Carolina Wren, found here year-round. Photos are not to scale - I chose to sacrifice scale for better detail. Winter Wrens are smaller than Carolinas- 4" in length to 5.3" - darker, and often hold their shorter tail straight up. They search for arthropods even in winter, gleaning them from bark and other surfaces. Winter wrens are usually in constant motion, flying in short bursts when disturbed. And, if you're fortunate enough to hear one, they have a beautiful song: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Winter_Wren/sounds

For the month of November, our #MysteryMonday posts will highlight birds that travel during the fall to spend the winter...
11/30/2020

For the month of November, our #MysteryMonday posts will highlight birds that travel during the fall to spend the winter in our area. For this week - who is this bird?? Their gray backs and white breasts are key characteristics!

Photo credit: By Ryan Hodnett via Wikimedia Commons.

Love Bugs is a different kind of love story. You will find a link to the documentary in the article.https://www.washingt...
11/30/2020
Short film explores legendary entomologists’ decades-long relationship and contributions to the study of insects

Love Bugs is a different kind of love story. You will find a link to the documentary in the article.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/insects-film-entomologist-love-bugs/2020/11/19/82f92df2-29cf-11eb-9b14-ad872157ebc9_story.html

“The Love Bugs” documentary is a glimpse into an illustrious dual career that took off on the couple’s honeymoon, which was spent collecting insects in Canada.

#SundayFundays in November will highlight one of our favorite birds . . . turkeys!  Each Sunday we'll explore a turkey c...
11/29/2020

#SundayFundays in November will highlight one of our favorite birds . . . turkeys! Each Sunday we'll explore a turkey craft that uses a different set of materials.

Our last turkey of the month uses leaves . . . collect what you can find outside and glue them together into a beautiful turkey tail!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

11/27/2020
YouTube

Nature is all around us, constantly in motion whether we notice or not. In Five Minute Finds we spotlight many of these little-noticed or unseen wonders in five minutes or less.

Today we'll talk about winter dormancy, and when to properly use the term hibernation.

https://youtu.be/Qx-uDiI924U

Just a reminder, in case you haven't yet: Arlington is developing its Forestry and Natural Resources Management Plan, wh...
11/27/2020
Forestry and Natural Resources Plan | Engage Arlington

Just a reminder, in case you haven't yet: Arlington is developing its Forestry and Natural Resources Management Plan, which will provide strategies to support Arlington's forests and other natural resources. You are welcome and encouraged to share your thoughts and insights at the site below (this is also where you can sign up for updates!): https://engage.arlingtonva.us/collections/forestry-and-natural-resources-plan

We'd like to hear from you! What's your vision for Arlington County's forestry and natural resources? Share your thoughts by clicking the button below.

Even the turkeys are physically distancing...
11/26/2020

Even the turkeys are physically distancing...

Happy #WildilfeWednesday! You can still see insects in November and even December when sunny, warm days rouse them. This...
11/25/2020

Happy #WildilfeWednesday! You can still see insects in November and even December when sunny, warm days rouse them. This unique moth is Alsophila pometaria, the fall cankerworm. The wingless individual on the right is the female. The species gets its name from the fact that females emerge from soil in November looking for a mate. They lay their eggs on a hardwood tree. The eggs hatch the following spring and the caterpillars feed until pupating in summer. They will stay as a pupa in the soil for as long as four months until emerging in November. In addition to finding them on trees, you may spot them on the sides of buildings.

Would you like a grant to plant or maintain native trees on private property? The application period for the Arlington T...
11/24/2020
Grants to Plant or Maintain Trees on Private Property - Parks & Recreation

Would you like a grant to plant or maintain native trees on private property? The application period for the Arlington Tree Canopy Fund is now open. The Tree Canopy Fund is administered by EcoAction Arlington and the Arlington County Urban Forestry Commission (UFC). EcoAction Arlington is a tax-deductible, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, while UFC is a volunteer, citizen commission, whose members are appointed by the Arlington County Board.

https://parks.arlingtonva.us/grants-to-plant-or-maintain-trees-on-private-property/

The Tree Canopy Fund is used to plant trees on private property or to maintain trees. Tree Planting: Here’s a list of trees you could apply for; each new tree will be about two inches in diameter. Tree Maintenance: Grants will be given to help maintain a tree that is designated in the Champion Tre...

For the month of November, our #MysteryMonday posts will highlight birds that travel during the fall to spend the winter...
11/23/2020

For the month of November, our #MysteryMonday posts will highlight birds that travel during the fall to spend the winter in our area. For this week - who is this tiny bird?? The red feathers found on the heads of males can only occasionally be seen!

Photo credit: By Rhododendrites via Wikimedia Commons.

#SundayFundays in November will highlight one of our favorite birds . . . turkeys!  Each Sunday we'll explore a turkey c...
11/22/2020

#SundayFundays in November will highlight one of our favorite birds . . . turkeys! Each Sunday we'll explore a turkey craft that uses a different set of materials.

Today's turkeys can be made with paper and glue! Try making that turkey tail with just one folded piece of paper or many. A simple back-and-forth fan fold will do the trick!

11/20/2020
Five Minute Finds: River Oats

Bringing you this week's #FiveMinuteFind: River oats! Hop on over to our YouTube page by clicking the link below to learn more about this awesome native grass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7Fid4eFuU0

Nature is all around us, constantly in motion whether we notice or not. In Five Minute Finds we spotlight many of these little-noticed or unseen wonders in f...

Happy #WildlifeWednesday! We found this Resinous Polypore, Ischnoderma resinosum, growing on a snag next to Gulf Branch....
11/18/2020

Happy #WildlifeWednesday! We found this Resinous Polypore, Ischnoderma resinosum, growing on a snag next to Gulf Branch. It is also known as the Weeping Polypore because a watery fluid drips from it when fresh; or the Late Fall Polypore for when its fruiting bodies appear. This Polypore is usually found in deciduous hardwoods.

For the month of November, our #MysteryMonday posts will highlight birds that travel during the fall to spend the winter...
11/16/2020

For the month of November, our #MysteryMonday posts will highlight birds that travel during the fall to spend the winter in our area. For this week - who is this bird?? Their round head, spotted upper breast, and beautiful song (although you are unlikely to hear it in winter) are helpful ID characteristics!

Photo credit: By Rhododendrites via Wikimedia Commons

#SundayFundays in November will highlight one of our favorite birds . . . turkeys!  Each Sunday we'll explore a turkey c...
11/15/2020

#SundayFundays in November will highlight one of our favorite birds . . . turkeys! Each Sunday we'll explore a turkey craft that uses a different set of materials.

Try out a classic today - handprint turkeys! You can use paint if you have it, but tracing your hand with markers or crayons works just as well and is a little bit less messy. Share what you've made in a post below!

11/15/2020
Arlington County Recreation, Youth & Family Programs

Arlington County Recreation, Youth & Family Programs

It ROCKS to spread gratitude! We hope your family will take part in November's Rec @ Home special event:

1. Search outside for small rocks and pebbles to paint with your family.
2. From November 25th - 29th, staff will be showcasing our rocks at different parks and centers around Arlington.
3. Snap pictures of your rocks or our rocks that you find. Post and tag us using #ARLROCKS

Check out some painting ideas here:
https://artsycraftsymom.com/20-awesome-rock-painting-ideas-for-kids/

We had a great time at our "Recycled Material Printmaking" program for teens this afternoon!  We ended up using both rec...
11/14/2020

We had a great time at our "Recycled Material Printmaking" program for teens this afternoon! We ended up using both recycled items and found items from the park (leaves, branches, acorns, etc.). Check out some of the artwork below!! 🍁🎨🖌

Some happy finds in the park from this past week!  An American crow came to visit the owl, a Carolina wren stopped to ch...
11/14/2020

Some happy finds in the park from this past week! An American crow came to visit the owl, a Carolina wren stopped to check things out, a Cooper's hawk looked down on us from above, and the witch hazel is wearing it's full fall colors!

You can now register for winter programs online! Find programs for you and your family from December to February at Gulf...
11/13/2020
Nature Centers

You can now register for winter programs online! Find programs for you and your family from December to February at Gulf Branch Nature Center, Long Branch Nature Center and Fort C. F. Smith.

https://parks.arlingtonva.us/nature-history/programs/

Nature Centers provide visitors with wonderful opportunities to understand and appreciate our historic and natural resources.

11/13/2020
Five Minute Finds To Fall or Not To Fall

Nature is all around us, constantly in motion whether we notice or not. In Five Minute Finds we spotlight many of these little-noticed or unseen wonders in five minutes or less.

Today we take a look at why some trees lose their leaves, and why some hang on to them.

https://youtu.be/I7iVTxItSGY

This fall we've been busy providing virtual field trips for Arlington County Public Schools students! Check out some of ...
11/12/2020

This fall we've been busy providing virtual field trips for Arlington County Public Schools students! Check out some of the virtual thank you notes we received today from Charles R. Drew Elementary 3rd graders! They made our day! ☺️🐢🌈 We agree, fall nature trails ARE beautiful!

Arlington is developing its Forestry and Natural Resources Management Plan, which will provide strategies to support Arl...
11/12/2020
Forestry and Natural Resources Plan | Engage Arlington

Arlington is developing its Forestry and Natural Resources Management Plan, which will provide strategies to support Arlington's forests and other natural resources. You are welcome and encouraged to share your thoughts and insights at the site below (this is also where you can sign up for updates!): https://engage.arlingtonva.us/collections/forestry-and-natural-resources-plan

We'd like to hear from you! What's your vision for Arlington County's forestry and natural resources? Share your thoughts by clicking the button below.

Address

3608 Military Rd
Arlington, VA
22207

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 17:00
Thursday 10:00 - 17:00
Friday 10:00 - 17:00
Saturday 10:00 - 17:00
Sunday 13:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(703) 228-3403

Alerts

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Our Story

Gulf Branch Nature Center has been a part of the Arlington community for more than 50 years! From the time it first opened, Gulf Branch naturalists have fostered an appreciation and love for the local environment within the community. Back then, youth hiked, played, created artwork, built birdhouses, and learned about the natural world – much the same way youth participating in programs today do! Over the years, Gulf Branch has expanded its range of programs to include something for all ages! Come hike in the park, play in the stream, visit with the animals, chat with the naturalists, or attend a nature program! Contact us to learn more!

Nearby government services


Comments

Unfortunately, I have a conflict. Will Top Predators of the DMV on Thursday be recorded and available later? Thanks.
Thank you Gulf Branch Nature Center naturalists Maddy and Ken for a fun Snake Campfire tonight. Also great info learning about the Catalpa Caterpillar/Moths that we spotted!
Does Gulf Branch have any Earth Day events planned? I wanna put together a list of volunteer activities to share with my high school Bio students over at Yorktown.
Please tell us more details about your upcoming Bat Fest.