Audubon Naturalist Society -- Woodend Sanctuary

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Editorial Review

A hilly path winds around the property. While the self-guided hiking paths cover plenty of ground, they're also accommodating places for the sort of very young hikers who may poop out within half a mile.

Woodend, the property's impressive Georgian-style estate designed by National Gallery and Jefferson Memorial architect John Russell Pope, serves as headquarters for the society, which is dedicated to preserving habitat for birds and other creatures. During the week there, you can see a collection of nearly 600 bird species. The society offers numerous educational programs for all ages.

Words to the wise: The house is rented for events such as weddings, so you may find it overrun on a weekend and its bathroom inaccessible.

Notes: There's neither food nor picnicking here.

-- by John Kelly and Craig Stoltz

The Bookshop:
The Audubon Naturalist Society promotes environmental awareness and encourages citizen action on the grassroots level. As might be expected, the society's bookshop stocks books that further those goals -- from Peterson's nature guides to travel books to do-it-yourself environmental activism manuals. All told, it's one of the best collections of natural history books on the East Coast. The bookshop is housed in what was once the kitchen and butler's service pantry of Woodend, the neo-classical mansion that is the society's headquarters. All things bright and beautiful concerning wildlife are sold here -- birdfeeders, videos on bird watching, jewelry inspired by nature, T-shirts with nature themes, calendars and desk items. A range of optics -- binoculars and scopes -- sell from $50 to $1,200. There's a selection of science toys and games for kids, as well as puppets and nature books aimed at small fry. Occasionally, the bookshop holds book signings and reading events, usually to celebrate a new publication by a society staff member or local naturalist.

-- L. Peat O'Neil