The number of Virginia birds to make the official state checklist continues to climb, now nearing the five hundred species mark. They all have plenty of fine places to live or visit through the state from the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley and National Park in the West to the coastal areas of the east.
The types of birds in Virginia can be divided into a variety of common categories, depending on the readers or writers interest. Land planners across the state might have a special interest in differentiating between the state’s breeding and non-breeding species. Virginia residents might want to know the types of birds that are year round residents and eager to be invited to a backyard feeder.
The picture at the top of the page, for example, shows the male Cardinal, the official bird of Virginia. It’s a common backyard bird that visits feeders throughout the state.
Virginia’s birding history traces back all the way to the Colonial Era. One need go no further than the story of Thomas Jefferson’s pet mockingbirds to know their mimicry captured the attention of his ear. Jefferson was also interested in the migratory birds of Monticello such as the Purple Martin (pictured). His notebooks contain records of their arrival dates.
History moves forward and another president, Theodore Roosevelt, builds a retreat in southern Albemarle County. Roosevelt’s enthusiasm for bird watching are well know. Less well known might be one historic fact reported by the Monticello Bird Club,
On May 18, 1907 he made an exciting observation, a flock of a dozen Passenger Pigeons near the cabin, and immediately wrote to two of his naturalist friends, John Burroughs and C. Hart Merriam. Although Burroughs and Merriam doubted the observation, the Pigeon having been thought extinct, other naturalists found the identification satisfactory. If correct, this would mean that the last sighting of the Passenger Pigeon in the wild by a reputable observer was in Albemarle County.
Today members of the Monticello Bird Club continue to follow Jefferson’s lead and lead bird walks around Monticello during the migratory season. Tourists are welcome.
Virginia is also for lovers of beach birds. The Tidewater area of Norfolk and Virginia beach, along with the entire coastal area hosts dozens of species that share the beach with tourists.
This section covers all Virginia birds and is open for contributions from everyone who has a story to tell.
The categories are loosely organized to insure that all the backyard birds and most of the common wild birds are included. Choose a category and begin the adventure.
The green bird button points to more information covering bird identification questions.