Merrie Newlond has seen deer, hawks, squirrels, chipmunks, foxes, rabbits, a large variety of birds and a box turtle — all in the heavily-wooded backyard of her condominium at Vantage Hill.
“I see fox all the time around Thanksgiving,” said Newlond, a Reston resident since 1986. “Wildlife comes right up to my patio door,” she said. Just the other day Newlond said that her neighbor spotted two bald eagles.
Clearly her backyard welcomes wildlife, but now it’s official.
In February, her property and the rest of the Vantage Hill Condominium Community in mid-Reston was certified a Backyard Wildlife Habitat site by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).
There are nearly 200 properties in Reston that have received the wildlife certification, including 161 homeowners, five schools, 11 cluster associations, two condominium associations, and nine other businesses and groups.
Reston is one of only nine communities nationwide that have qualified for the Community Wildlife Habitat program, which includes over 50,000 certified backyard wildlife habitats throughout the country.
Newlond found out about the program while participating in the Great American Bird Count, which takes place in every February. Before the end of the month, she had completed the steps to qualify for certification.
The program, which started in 1973, encourages everyone to manage their backyard with the needs of wildlife in mind.