Audubon Naturalist Society Rust Sanctuary

Important Notices

COVID-19 & the VBWTBefore heading out to visit a site on the Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail, be sure to check if that site has any COVID-19 policies or closures in place. This information is typically posted on a site's own website.

Description

The Audubon Naturalist Society has recently acquired the Rust Estate that it manages as a sanctuary. The centerpiece of these 68 acres is the manor house, which now serves as the environmental education center. The sanctuary hosts multiple habitats in a small area including hardwood forests, open meadows, pine plantations and 2 ponds. The gardens near the manor house contain various plants which attract limitless wildlife. In the fall and winter, small mixed flocks of songbirds flit along the path and can contain white-throated sparrows, eastern towhees and occasional brown creepers, as well as the more numerous northern cardinal and Carolina chickadees.

As you wander downhill towards the lake, look for white-tailed deer quietly grazing just off the path. As you approach the pond try to keep a low profile while getting into the small blind to the right of the trail. This blind provides an opportunity to watch the wildlife without disturbing them. From here you can witness the numerous fishing expeditions of belted kingfishers or the gracefulness of Canada geese as they sail back and forth across the surface. The bushes around the blind often host additional species, with field and white-throated sparrows perched on the tangles and house wrens chattering from deep within.

Directions

From the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, continue south on Rt. 671 for 5.3 miles to SR 9/Charles Town Pike. Turn left (south) on SR 9 and follow it for 9.7 miles to SR 7. Merge onto SR 7/Harry Byrd Highway and follow east 2.0 miles to the SR 7 Business Exit. Merge onto SR 7 Business/W. Market Street and continue east for 0.4 miles to Catoctin Circle SW. Turn right (south) on Catoctin Circle and follow it for 0.2 miles to Childrens Center Road SW. Turn right (west) and follow it 0.2 miles to the cul-de-sac. At the sanctuary’s mailbox follow the adjacent gravel/paved road 0.3 miles to the sanctuary entrance.

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: Cliff Fairweather; (703) 737-0021 cliff@audubonnaturalist.org
  • Website
  • Access: Free, open daily sunrise to sunset

Birds Recently Seen at Audubon Naturalist Society Rust Sanctuary (as reported to eBird)

  • Turkey Vulture
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Blue Jay
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Carolina Wren
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Eastern Bluebird

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Environmental Study Area
  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Information
  • Interpretive Nature Program
  • Parking
  • Picnic
  • Viewing Blinds