The number of injured wild animals that can be saved through rehabilitation is insignificant compared to the number harmed by habitat loss and climate change. Liz believes that an understanding of the natural world and how we impact it is essential to making wise choices for the future of our planet. She hopes that the informative and entertaining programs offered by Secret Garden Birds and Bees will increase awareness of the amazing creatures around us. If each of us does our part to build our cities, suburbs, and rural communities intelligently, considering the needs of our native wildlife, we will not merely coexist with nature, we will thrive with it! As a scientist and engineer with advanced degrees in chemistry/physics and telecommunications engineering, she encourages all young people to study both science and the arts so they can understand the complex mechanisms that drive the natural world and appreciate its beauty.
Liz is a Virginia Master Naturalist (VMN), a Member of the Board of the Banshee Reeks Chapter of that organization, leader of the VMN's Barn Owl and Kestrel Nest Box Project and a contributor to the chapter's website. Liz is also a member of the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and serves on the LWC Programs and Field Trips Committee. She is a contributor to LWC's quarterly publication, the Habitat Herald. As a raptor rehabilitator she has volunteered her time with several wonderful organizations including the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, and is currently working with Owl Moon Raptor Center.
In addition to her passion for raptors Liz and her husband, Tim, are beekeepers and members of the Loudoun Beekeepers Association. They live in Northern Virginia with their two dogs, three parrots, two raptors and about 90,000 honey bees.
Nikki Stamps is passionate about caring for animals and sharing that passion with others. In her native California, she volunteered as a docent at the Cabrillo Beach Marine Museum where she educated visitors about marine life, worked in a veterinary clinic, and cared for a large menagerie of pets. Nikki's love of raptors began when she and her mom flew falcons and hawks on the Palos Verdes Peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Nikki and her husband, Frankie, moved to Warrenton Virginia in 1992, where she began working at Fauquier Hospital as a Registered Nurse (RN) in the Operating Room. She used her medical skills and knowledge of animals to begin working with wildlife as a rehabilitator apprentice with Cal Dooley and received her full state license in 2009. Nikki has enjoyed the experience of rehabilitating various birds, mammals, rabies vector species, and reptiles but her greatest love remains vultures, raptors and bats.
Nikki is a falconer who has successfully trained, flown and released three red-tailed hawks. She is currently training and flying a male great horned owl nicknamed Finney. Finney will not be released because, as a very young bird, he was imprinted on humans and can't live among others of his kind. This in no way diminishes his abilities as a totally awesome hunter and partner for Nikki in the sport of falconry.
Nikki is a member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, the International Avian Trainers and Educators, Native Wildlife Rescue, and the Virginia Falconry Association.
Tim Dennison is "Head Beekeeper", responsible for all the heavy lifting (literally heaving lifting) associated with inspecting and managing the hives. Tim enjoys working with Secret Garden's bees, spreading the word about the environmental benefits of beekeeping, and working with the Loudoun Beekeepers Association as a volunteer and mentor for new beekeepers. Tim is also happy to help homeowners remove beehives from their home or property without harming the bees in the process.
Tim prepared the soil and planted the pollinator meadow garden that provides foraging for our bees, native bees, butterflies and a wide variety of insects. Goldfinches love it too. His future plans include maintenance of the meadow garden, gradually expanding the garden into shady areas with a different assortment of native plants and replacing much of the grass on the property with clover for additional foraging.
Tim is also active with the National Weather Service (NWS) Skywarn Program, a network of volunteer severe weather spotters, who act as the "eyes and ears" of NWS offices throughout the country. Tim is a licensed amateur radio operator tasked with coordinating the efforts of other operators in the capital area to maintain a communications network during weather related outages of regular communication channels. This ensures that the NWS can continue to receive weather reports and feed warnings and other critical information out to communities during emergencies.
Tim is pictured above with Olaf, one of the two dogs he and Liz adopted from the Middleburg Humane Foundation.
Liz Dennison has been working with birds of prey for almost 10 years as an educator, rehabilitator, and falconer flying her red-tailed hawk, Midge, and her barred owl, Scarlett. Both birds were injured and are non-releasable due to permanent disabilities but they are excellent flyers and a pleasure to work with in the field. By training them as falconry birds, they are able to able to live a full life, doing many of the things they would do naturally in the wild.
Caring for injured, sick, or orphaned birds is very rewarding and certainly significant to the individual birds, their mates and their young, but even if every bird rescued could recover enough to be released, there would be little effect on the overall population and the decline we've seen in some species.