The Top 10 Amazing Virginia Birds

Virginia is home to over 450 species of birds, making it a great destination for seasoned birding and birdwatching enthusiasts. Virginia birds can range from waterfowls to songbirds and raptors to small birds.

With many nature reserves, state parks, and wildlife refuges, Virginia provides conducive habitat for various animals and birds. The state even has notable birding festivals and events such as the Virginia Beach Birding & Wildlife Festival and the Great Dismal Swamp Birding & Nature Festival.

Whether you’re an ornithologist or simply a typical birdwatcher, this guide will take you through the ten most popular Virginia birds and where you can find them.

1. Northern Cardinal(Cardinalis cardinalis)

Most popular among Virginia birds

The Northern Cardinal belongs to the family of finches and grosbeaks and it’s a popular bird in Virginia because of its bright red plumage, which is more vibrant in males than in females. This small bird is quite a celebrity as it’s a state bird in Virginia and the other six states, including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia.

Did you know that the bright red plumage of male Northern Cardinals is due to the presence of carotenoids in their diet? These pigments are plenty of seeds, fruit, and insects, and are responsible for the vibrant red, orange, and yellow colors found in many birds.

The Northern Cardinal also loves visiting backyards with millet, sunflower seeds, and safflower seeds. Females build the nest and incubate the eggs, while the male helps to feed and protect the female and their young.

These birds are non-migratory and stay in Virginia throughout the year. Northern Cardinals are obsessive territorial birds who even attack their reflection!

2. The Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Belong to the same family as pigeons, the Mourning Dove makes a unique and mournful call, which is a series of soft cooing sounds. Mourning Doves are medium-sized graceful birds with long, pointed tails. They have a pale gray to brown plumage, with a lighter underside and a black spot on their neck. These birds live long and the oldest is known to be 30 years.

You can find the Mourning Dove in open woodlands, fields, gardens, and parks. These Virginia birds are non-migratory; therefore, they are one of the few Virginia birds that stays in the state all year long. They are the most abundant dove species in Virginia and the entire country.

These birds feed on a variety of seeds, grains, and small insects. Mourning Doves are popular birds for birdwatchers, game hunters, and backyard birders. They’re fast and agile in flight and can reach up to 50 mph downwind.

3. Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis)

Native to the eastern United States, the Carolina Chickadee is a small songbird, which is a member of the tit family, and a close relative to the Black-capped Chickadee. The Carolina Chickadees measure 4.5 inches and have a wingspan of about 7 inches. Their caps and bibs are gray, while the cheeks are white. You can spot their pale underparts when they extract seeds from pine cones.

The Carolina Chickadees thrive in deciduous forests and coniferous forests, but they can also live in wooded swamps and suburban areas. They are active social birds with amazing agility and acrobatic capability.

They make soft “chick-a-dee-dee” calls and are non-migratory Virginia birds, which reside in their breeding territory year-round. The Chickadees form monogamous pairs and are known to be very faithful to their mates. They build nests in cavities in trees or nest boxes, and the female usually lays a clutch of 5 to 8 eggs.

Carolina Chickadees are one of the few Virginia birds that survive in cold temperatures by entering a state of torpor, in which their body temperature and metabolism drop significantly. This allows them to conserve energy.

4. American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Most widespread among small Virginia birds

With a length of 10 inches, the American Robin is a medium-sized migratory songbird that is abundant and widespread across North Carolina and the rest of the United States. It’s a member of the thrush family and has a plump, round body, distinctive orange breast and throat, gray back and wings, and dark head.

While these birds live in a variety of habitats, they’re often seen on lawns picking up earthworms and small insects. These birds of Virginia are common in deciduous forests, grasslands, gardens, and urban areas. They frequent backyard feeders and feed on insects, fruits, and berries. In the winter, they often visit bird feeders to supplement their diet.

The American Robins have melodious and cheery songs and form large flocks during the winter months. They build nests in trees or shrubs, and the female usually lays a clutch of 4 to 5 eggs. Males sing more frequently and loudly than females.

5. Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Woodpeckers are among the most abundant birds in Virginia, but the Downy Woodpecker species can be found throughout the state. The Downy Woodpecker resembles the Hairy Woodpecker in nearly all areas, except that it’s smaller and has a shorter beak. They are small birds with short, stout bills, and black and white plumage.

Downy Woodpeckers are non-migratory and typically stay within their breeding territories in Virginia year-round. These birds are agile and can climb trees while drumming on tree trunks and branches in search of food. Their tongues are sticky, which allows them to extract insects from crevices.

You can find the Downy Woodpeckers in a variety of habitats, including in open woodlands and suburban areas. They also like orchards, city parks, backyards, and vacant lots.

6. Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)

The Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized birds, with a body length of about 9 inches, a large, rounded head with a long, stout bill, and checkered black and white plumage. Males have a small patch of crimson-red feathers on the back of the head, whereas females don’t.

These woodpeckers in Virginia are non-migratory, therefore permanent residents of the state. The Hairy Woodpeckers feed on beetles, ants, and caterpillars, but can supplement their diet with fruits, nuts, and seeds. They can be very vocal during the breeding season in spring and summer.

7. Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Intelligent Virginia birds

Nearly the same size as the sparrow, the Tufted Titmouse is one of the popular Virginia birds. It’s a close relative to the Chickadees and has a plump, round body, and gray plumage. The Tufted Titmouse has a unique tuft of feathers on its head. They have a short, conical bill adapted to extracting seeds from cones.

These small birds of Virginia flourish in deciduous forests and coniferous forests, but can also do well in suburban areas. Their favorite food includes a wide variety of insects, seeds, and nuts. In the winter, they often visit bird feeders to supplement their diet. Tufted Titmice are active, social birds, which flock together in the breeding season while making chattering and trilling calls.

The Tufted Titmouse is a permanent resident of Virginia, and they are one of the most intelligent songbirds you can find. In times of plenty, they store food in thickets and logs, to help sustain them through winter when food is scarce.

8. Blue Jay  (Cyanocitta cristata)

Loudest Virginia birds

As one of the loudest Virginia birds, the Blue Jay has blue and white plumage, with a blue head, back, wings, and white underparts. A thick bill and a crest of feathers on the top of the head mark their rounded heads.

The Blue Jays in Virginia are known not only for their vocals but for their intelligence as well. They can mimic the calls of other birds and animals and have spectacular problem-solving abilities. These birds don’t migrate and typically stay within their breeding territory in Virginia forests and woodlands all year round.

These birds are graceful but aggressive. They are popular with Virginia birdwatchers and backyard birders and are known to fight other birds for sunflower seeds, suet, and nuts. Blue Jays are common in backyards with acorns.

9. Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

Almost the size of the American Robin, the Eastern Bluebird has colorful plumage with a blue head, back, and wings, and a rust-colored breast. Male Eastern Bluebirds are more brightly colored than females.

The Eastern Bluebird is a common backyard bird and loves foraging in open grasslands, fields, and suburban areas. They eat insects, fruits, and berries, and in the winter, they visit suet feeders to supplement their diet.

You don’t want to miss the beautiful sight of an Eastern Bluebird. So the next time it visits your backyard in Virginia suburbs, arm yourself with a monocular scope. Sometimes, these birds mob predators, such as raptors and wild cats to drive them away from their territory.

10. Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus)

The Carolina Wrens are small Virginia birds, with round bodies, and reddish-brown plumage, with a long, thin tail that sits upright. They are birds with remarkable memory and can remember the location of food sources.

Unlike the Canyon Wren, males and females of the Carolina Wren species don’t make different songs and calls. Be careful not to confuse the songs of the Carolina Wren with those of the Kentucky Warbler. This bird is also the largest of all the Wren species in Virginia.

The Carolina Wren is found in open areas and fields with angles and undergrowths. They are adaptable and thrive in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and suburban areas. These birds mostly feed on insects such as caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, and beetles. But they will frequent backyard feeders for suet and nuts during winter.

More To Explore