Bird Club holds discussion on plant spread

Published 10:56 am Thursday, February 23, 2023

Kevin Heffernan

The Margaret Watson Bird Club welcomes the public to an evening program on Thursday, March 2. The club is excited to welcome Kevin Heffernan as our speaker. His talk is titled “Invasive Plants with Wings: How Native and Nonnative Birds Assist the Spread of Invasive Plants.”

This meeting is an opportunity to learn about how a non-native species, for example, the Two-horned Trapa (Trapa bispinosa) is spread by birds. This species quickly invades freshwater ponds, lakes and lazy streams. It can form dense mats on the surface of a body of water, outcompete our native vegetation and other plant species and reduce the ability to navigate on these waterways.

Heffernan is Stewardship Biologist for the Virginia Natural Heritage Program. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, he has worked for Natural Heritage since 1993. During this time, he has mapped many acres of invasive species — such as Phragmites, wavyleaf grass, and two-horned trapa — participated in many prescribed fires, planted many trees, searched for rare plants, led invasive species campaigns and written many technical and educational publications. Heffernan is the lead author of DCR’s Invasive Plants Species List and the Virginia Invasive Species Management Plan. 

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He currently serves as chairman of the Virginia Invasive Species Advisory Committee, which reports to the Secretary of Natural and Historical Resources and the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Heffernan also works to promote the use of native plant species on solar farms and roadside rights-of-way through the development of the Virginia Native Plant Finder, an online tool for creating custom plant species lists. He serves as a DCR representative on the Pollinator Smart Program steering committee.

The meeting will be at the Farmville Presbyterian Church in the Fellowship Hall located at 200 West Third Street in Farmville. Light refreshments start at 6:30 p.m. and the program starts at 7.