Who doesn’t love to see little visitors to our bird feeders? I enjoy watching little birds visit the Vitex tree outside my kitchen window. I regularly get cardinals, eastern bluebirds, tufted titmice, blue jays, house finches, and Carolina chickadees, but they aren’t my only visitors. I’ve seen a Cooper’s hawk on my fence and a Great Blue heron on my pergola. And somewhere nearby is a pair of nesting bald eagles that create huge shadows when they do their fly-bys.
The Chesapeake watershed is the permanent home and to many large birds and the seasonal retreat for others. These include raptors, water, and wading birds. We also have wild turkeys!
If you live near water and marshes, you probably see herons and egrets regularly. But if you pay attention, you will likely see hawks and eagles too. If you visit this region, you will probably catch a glimpse of one or more of our larger feathered friends.
Since most large birds cannot live on vegetation alone, they rely on small animals like bugs, fish, and rodents to make their meals. Protection of habitats like marshes and limiting pesticides and other pollutants keep their prey healthy and in turn, they support healthy bird populations. Big birds are a mark of a healthy ecosystem. In Virginia, we have taken steps to ensure these beauties have good homes, keep scrolling to learn more.
Raptors: Owls, Hawks, and Eagles
|Eastern Screech Owl||Barred Owl||Coopers Hawk||Osprey||Bald Eagle|
We have a lot of competition here between herons and egrets, but we decided on showing you some less recognizable beauties.
|Black-Crowned Night Heron||Glossy Ibis|
We’ve got lots varieties of ducks and geese, but these two are particularly pretty, and they trade places over the course of the year.
The Wild Turkey is an American native and once was a contender to be our national bird.
If you want to significantly increase your chances of seeing large Virginia birds while in the Hampton Roads areas, go to one of their many preserved or cultivated habitats. At Davis Lakes Campground in Suffolk,VA, we get our share of beauties, but here are a few more places in the area to check out while you're visiting. Most of these parks and preserves are free.
Chesapeake and Suffolk
Bear Path Acres in Southampton County is a wildlife sanctuary and animal education center. They have owls, hawks and white crows along with many other lovely animals. Check them out here: http://bearpathacres.org/
The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is world-famous for its unique ecosystem! It’s also your best chance to see owls in wild. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/GreatDismalSwampNationalWildlifeRefuge/
Grandview Nature Preserve is 2 1/2 miles of Chesapeake Bay-front beach, perfect to observe birds. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/GrandviewNaturePreserve/
Sandy Bottom Nature Park features two lakes and wetlands that provide habitat for native birds. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/SandyBottomNaturePark/
Bluebird Gap Farm in addition to other animals features various birds to include owls, hawks, turkeys. Perfect for an outing with small kids. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/ThemeParksAndZoos/BluebirdGapFarm/
Bald eagles and many species of water birds are at the Virginia Living Museum. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/Museums/VirginiaLivingMuseum/
If you’re up for a Sunday morning walk, you can join local bird watchers at Newport News Park for their bi-monthly strolls. http://www.nnparks.com/parks_nn.php http://www.hamptonroadsbirdclub.org/nnpark.asp
The Virginia Zoo has native and exotic birds. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/ThemeParksAndZoos/VirginiaZoo/
Climb the observation tower to spy nesting eagles and wading birds at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org
Visit a well-kept secret among birdwatchers, Weyanoke Sanctuary at 1501 Armistead Bridge Road.
Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve is a thriving habitat for native species, includes a unique saltwater lake, has walking trails, and an observation tower for bird watching. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/HofflerCreekWildlifePreserve/
Ragged Island Wildlife Management area features nature trails and beautiful panoramic views of the James River. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/RaggedIslandWildlifeManagement/
Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is a habitat for raptors like peregrine falcons and bald eagles. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/BackBayNationalWildlifeRefuge/
North Landing River Natural Area is a refuge for migratory waterfowl and rare plants and includes four of the state's rarest habitats: freshwater-brackish tidal marshes, canebrakes, pocosins and Atlantic white cedar forest. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/NorthLandingRiverNaturalArea/
Hunt Club Petting Farm has geese, swans and more. http://www.virginia.org/Listings/ThemeParksAndZoos/HuntClubsPettingFarm/
Chickahominy Wildlife Management Area has mowed trails to benefit wildlife as well as hikers. Visit bluffs along the river to see bald eagles and ospreys. Check out the interior roads to see turkeys! http://www.virginia.org/Listings/OutdoorsAndSports/ChickahominyWildlifeManagementArea/
Love birds? See how many backyard birds you can find and play our Backyard Bird Bingo! This free, full color, printable game sheet has 18 beautiful birds that are common in Virginia. Click to get your game!
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