Cape Henry Audubon Society, Inc. ("CHAS"), located in Norfolk, Virginia, is a local chapter of the National Audubon Society. Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity. CHAS is also a member chapter of the Virginia Society of Ornithology ("VSO"). CHAS members have served on the VSO board and its committees and have frequently provided leadership for VSO field trips in the Tidewater areas.
The origin of CHAS dates back to late 1952 when a group of individuals established the Tidewater Council of Natural History and began meeting at what is now the Chrysler Museum of Art. With most of its members keenly interested in birds, the organization changed its name to the Cape Henry Bird Club in 1953. Some of the original members were Floy Burford, Gisela Grimm, W. F. "Froggy" Roundtrey, Elizabeth Thomas, Elizabeth Stephens, and student member Paul Sykes.The club sponsored lectures, exhibits and field trips to educate themselves and the public about birds of this and other areas.
Our affiliation with National Audubon began in 1979, at which time the club's name was formally changed to Cape Henry Audubon Society, Inc.Also in that same year Norfolk Southern Corporation (formerly N&W Railway) donated a tract of land in the West Ghent section of Norfolk to The Nature Conservancy which, in turn, transferred the land to CHAS. Through the efforts of many fine people, including founding members Dickie & Nancy Barron, Gisela Grimm, Lee & Eunice Payne, Joan & Wickham Taylor, George & Evelyn Sargeant, and Becky White, the eight-acre site has been transformed into the Weyanoke Bird and Wildflower Sanctuary. The Sanctuary today offers wooded trails, native plants, a butterfly garden, numerous birds and other wildlife.We are particularly indebted to the Master Gardeners who, along with CHAS members and others, give many hours voluntarily to maintain the Sanctuary. Please see the WEYANOKE SANCTUARY page for additional information on this urban haven.
CHAS meets monthly except during the summer months at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Norfolk (directions). Our meetings are open to the public and include guest speakers with programs on a wide variety of nature and conservation-related topics, and are always both educational and enjoyable.Over the years we have extended our educational outreach by sponsoring Audubon Adventure programs in local schools and by assisting students and teachers in attending summer camps sponsored by CHAS and National Audubon.
CHAS has a very active field trip program. While aimed primarily at birding, we often take the time to appreciate the many other types of wildlife and wildflowers we encounter. We visit a variety of local "hot spots" for either half-day or full-day excursions. Occasionally we travel to locations outside of the Tidewater area, requiring overnight stays. Non-members who are interested in birding and wildlife viewing are welcome to join us. Most trips are free of charge. For details on upcoming field trips, please see the FIELD TRIPS page.
CHAS subscribes to the Virginia Society of Ornithology's Principles of Birding Ethics. To view a copy, click here.