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Plants and Animals at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

Bird Species

White-Breasted Nuthatch

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park falls within the Piedmont geologic province, which stretches south-westward from New York City to Alabama. Upon arrival in this region nearly 300 years ago, European settlers cleared the forested land and converted it for agricultural use. Within the last 100 years much of this region has been abandoned as farmland, largely due to the decrease in soil quality from intensive farming practices. Where development has not moved in to replace farms, natural succession has led to reforestation.

Bird FinderThe Killdeer Bird
is featured on
Nature Page.

Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is a prime example of this succession. Once a working farm, ECLP was a gift from David Lawrence in honor of his wife, Ellanor. Now totaling over 650 acres, the park encompasses several different stages of forest succession, offering a variety of different habitats for wildlife. These include open meadows, an eastern red cedar thicket, mixed deciduous-conifer forest, maturing hardwood forest, several stream valleys, and a pond. It is this diversity that provides for the 133 species of birds that have been documented in the park

We've come up with a list of birds of interest. These 16 birds are indicator species - or the presence of each bird can tell us something about what is going on in the environment.

The Dogs of Fairfax County


Canidae, the dog family, is a group of small to medium sized predators containing about 35 species worldwide. Dogs are extremely adaptable, making their homes in almost every type of habitat on every continent except Antarctica. The earliest dogs occur in the fossil record about 40 million years ago. Dogs are mammalian carnivores with 42 teeth, non-retractable claws, and four toe pads on each foot. Although America’s largest dog, the gray wolf, is no longer found in Virginia, Fairfax County is still the home to four dog species: the domestic dog, coyote, red fox and gray fox.

Flowering Plant Species


The flowering plant species list was compiled over several years from observations by park staff and local amateur botanists. It represents most of the non-woody and woody flowering plants found in the park. New species are added each year. You may encounter species not found on this list. Park staff would appreciate it if you would report all new sightings on the park message board or at Walney Visitor Center (phone 703-631-0013). Please include your name, an e-mail address or phone number, species name (botanic and common), location, reference volume used and date sighted in all reports.

Native Backyard Plants is one in a series of Park Authority Stewardship Brochures which explain stewardship and its benefits to the public.

Mammal Species

White Tailed Deer

This list of mammal species has been compiled by park staff through field observations, sightings and lists of animals found in the region that could occur here. Please report all new sightings on the park message board or at Walney Visitor Center (phone 703-631-0013). Please include your name, an e-mail address or phone number, species name, and location.

Learn More...
The White-tailed Deer Information Card and Wildlife Brochure are part of a series of Park Authority Stewardship Brochures which explain stewardship and its benefits to the public.

Wildlife in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

This list of reptile and amphibian species has been compiled by park staff from field observations, sightings, and lists of animals found in the region that could occur here. Please report any new sightings or observations on the web page message board. Additional information is available at the Virginia Herpetological Society.


Ask A Naturalist

If you have a question, you can Ask A Naturalist!

Please post your questions for our naturalist in the space provided below. BOLDED fields are required to enable a response.

The 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are there rattle snakes and water moccasins here?
No, the only venomous snake we have in Fairfax County is the northern copperhead. Snakes should never be handled. Many snakes try to mimic the pattern of copperheads for their own protection. Please stay on the trail and do not attempt to handle a snake.

2. Are there coyotes here?
Yes. Coyotes are becoming more and more common in Fairfax County and they have been seen here at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. They generally pose no threat to humans.

3. I just saw a fox in broad daylight and he didn't run. Does that mean he has rabies?
No. Although fox and coyotes are chiefly nocturnal they are still seen during the day. Never approach an animal and please report any out of the ordinary behavior.

4. Can I take a few tadpoles home for my kids to watch grow up?
No, this park and its staff are dedicated to protecting wildlife. We cannot remove anything from the park.

5. I have a critter living under my house, how do I get it out of there?
The best way to handle wildlife that is around your house is to leave it alone when ever possible. Generally, animals will leave on their own after a while.

6. Should I use moth balls to get rid of animals?
No, moth balls are very poisonous. They harm the environment and put children and pets at danger.

7. What does poison ivy look like?
Poison ivy has 3 leaves and it has a very hairy vine. Please stay on the trail.

8. The beavers are cutting down all the trees, are you going to do any thing about it?
Beavers are a part of this park's ecosystem. We let nature take its course whenever possible. A leaning tree that appears to be dangerous should always be reported to a staff member.

9. Can you fish at the pond?
Yes, fishing is allowed at Walney pond. You do need a proper fishing license.

10. Do ticks from the park carry lyme disease?
Yes, they can. Staying on the trail and using insect repellant will help reduce your risk to tick exposure.

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