Today we’ll cover the top 47 AMAZING Virginia Birds you MUST see:
Let’s jump in…
1. Northern Cardinal(Cardinalis cardinalis)
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)
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)
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)
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.
11. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Virginia’s skies are often graced by the Bald Eagle, a powerful symbol of America. This bird of prey has a striking appearance with its white head, dark brown body, and hooked yellow beak. Found near water bodies, they feed primarily on fish and waterfowl. In recent years, their population has rebounded from the brink of extinction due to conservation efforts.
12. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
The Osprey, a fishing specialist, is easily recognizable by its dark brown back, white belly, and black eye-stripe. It dives into the water to snatch fish in its talons. Virginia’s coastline and rivers provide a perfect habitat for these birds, which are known to return to the same nesting sites year after year.
13. Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
This large, majestic raptor is a common sight soaring over Virginia’s open fields, forests, and highways. With its broad wings, reddish-brown tail, and piercing eyes, the Red-tailed Hawk is a skilled hunter, preying on rodents and smaller birds. Its distinctive scream is often heard during courtship or territorial displays.
14. Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
The agile Cooper’s Hawk is a woodland raptor known for its stealth and speed. Its slate-gray back, reddish-barred chest, and long, banded tail make it a fierce and beautiful predator. It feeds on smaller birds, which it captures mid-flight using its impressive aerial skills.
15. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
The American Kestrel, North America’s smallest falcon, is a colorful and energetic bird. With its blue-gray wings, rust-colored back, and striking facial markings, this tiny predator hunts insects, rodents, and small birds. It can be spotted perched on fence posts or wires, scanning the ground for prey.
16. Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Known for its incredible speed, the Peregrine Falcon is a bird watcher’s delight. These birds are slate-gray with black barring and a distinctive black “mustache.” They are expert hunters, diving from great heights to catch birds in mid-air. Once endangered, their population has recovered in Virginia thanks to conservation efforts.
17. Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)
The Wild Turkey, with its fan-shaped tail and iridescent plumage, is a Virginia native. These large, ground-dwelling birds are quite vocal, emitting a range of calls including the well-known gobble. They feed on seeds, insects, and berries, and can be found in woodlands and grassy areas.
18. Bobwhite Quail (Colinus virginianus)
The charming Bobwhite Quail is a small, plump bird with a distinctive whistling call. They sport a reddish-brown body, black-and-white facial markings, and a short tail. Found in grasslands, woodlands, and agricultural areas, these birds feed on seeds, insects, and green vegetation.
19. Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
The Killdeer is a medium-sized plover with a double black neckband and a distinctive call that sounds like its name. They are found in open habitats such as fields, lawns, and wetlands. These birds are known for their “broken wing” display, a clever tactic to lure predators away from their nests.
20. American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
This striking shorebird is known for its bright orange bill and contrasting black-and-white plumage. As their name suggests, American Oystercatchers use their strong beaks to pry open oysters, clams, and other shellfish along Virginia’s coastline. They nest on sandy beaches and are known for their loud, piping calls.
21. Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)
The elegant Black-necked Stilt is characterized by its long, slender pink legs and black-and-white plumage. Found in shallow wetlands and mudflats, they feed on aquatic insects and small crustaceans. Their high-pitched calls can be heard as they gracefully wade through the water.
22. American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
With their striking black-and-white plumage and long, upturned bills, American Avocets are eye-catching wading birds. They inhabit Virginia’s shallow wetlands, where they use their unique bills to sweep the water for insects and crustaceans. They are also known for their aggressive behavior when defending their nests.
23. Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)
This well-camouflaged shorebird has a cryptic brown, black, and white pattern that allows it to blend in with its marshy surroundings. The Wilson’s Snipe uses its long, straight bill to probe the mud for worms and insects. They are often heard rather than seen, with their distinctive “winnowing” sound created during flight displays.
24. American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)
The American Woodcock, a plump, short-legged bird, is known for its distinctive “peent” call and elaborate courtship display. Found in young forests and moist meadows, they use their long bills to probe the soil for earthworms. Their cryptic plumage helps them blend in with their surroundings.
25. Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)
This familiar urban bird is known for its adaptability and wide range of colors, from the typical blue-gray to white, brown, and even black. Rock Pigeons are found in cities, towns, and rural areas, feeding on seeds, grains, and human food scraps. They are known to nest on building ledges and bridges.
26. Common Ground Dove (Columbina passerina)
The small, brown Common Ground Dove is known for its gentle cooing call and distinctive scaly pattern. They are found in open woodlands, grasslands, and agricultural areas, where they forage on the ground for seeds and insects. Their short, rounded wings enable rapid flight.
27. Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus)
This slender, secretive bird is known for its long tail and distinctive black-and-white pattern. Found in woodlands and thickets, the Yellow-billed Cuckoo feeds on insects, particularly caterpillars. They are known for their distinctive, croaking calls, often heard before the bird is seen.
28. Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus)
Similar in appearance to the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the Black-billed Cuckoo is distinguished by its black bill and red eye-ring. They inhabit woodlands and thickets, feeding on insects, especially caterpillars. This elusive bird is more often heard than seen, with its soft, slow call.
29. Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
This large, powerful owl is known for its distinctive ear tufts and piercing yellow eyes. Great Horned Owls inhabit a wide variety of habitats, from dense forests to open grasslands, and prey on mammals, birds, and reptiles. Their deep, booming hoots can be heard at dusk and throughout the night.
30. Barred Owl (Strix varia)
The Barred Owl is a medium-sized owl with a round head, dark eyes, and striking striped plumage. Found in mature forests and wooded swamps, they are known for their haunting, hooting call, often described as “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” They primarily hunt small mammals, birds, and amphibians during the night.
31. Eastern Screech-Owl (Megascops asio)
This small, nocturnal owl comes in two color morphs: gray and rufous. Both have intricate patterns that help them blend in with tree bark. Found in woodlands and suburban areas, Eastern Screech-Owls are known for their distinctive trilling call. They prey on insects, rodents, and small birds.
32. Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)
The Belted Kingfisher is a medium-sized, stocky bird with a distinctive crest and blue-gray plumage. Found near water bodies, they nest in burrows along riverbanks and feed on fish by diving headfirst into the water. Their loud, rattling call is a familiar sound along Virginia’s waterways.
33. Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)
This striking woodpecker is easily recognized by its bright red head, white body, and black wings. They inhabit open woodlands and savannas, where they feed on insects, nuts, and fruit. Known for their bold behavior, Red-headed Woodpeckers will cache food and even steal from other birds.
34. Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)
The Northern Flicker, a medium-sized woodpecker, is known for its brown plumage, black-spotted underparts, and bright yellow wing linings. They are often seen on the ground, where they feed on ants and beetles. Their loud, ringing call and drumming can be heard throughout Virginia’s forests and woodlands.
35. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America, with a striking red crest and black-and-white plumage. They inhabit mature forests, where they excavate large, rectangular cavities in search of insects. Their loud drumming and raucous calls are a characteristic sound of Virginia’s woodlands.
36. Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)
This small, unassuming flycatcher is characterized by its olive-gray upperparts and pale underparts. Eastern Phoebes are often seen perched on branches or fences, bobbing their tails and catching insects mid-flight. They are known for their simple, two-note call, which gives them their name.
37. Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)
The Great Crested Flycatcher is a colorful and vocal bird with a bold yellow belly, gray head, and reddish wings. Found in wooded areas, they feed on insects and occasionally fruit. Their loud, distinctive calls can be heard throughout Virginia during the breeding season.
38. Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
This medium-sized flycatcher is known for its black-and-white plumage and aggressive behavior. Eastern Kingbirds inhabit open areas near water and feed on insects, often catching them in mid-air. They are known to defend their territory fiercely, even chasing away much larger birds.
39. White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus)
This small songbird is characterized by its olive-green upperparts, yellow spectacles, and white iris. Found in dense thickets and shrubby areas, White-eyed Vireos feed on insects and spiders. They are known for their energetic and complex song, which is a characteristic sound of Virginia’s undergrowth.
40. Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus)
The Red-eyed Vireo is a small, inconspicuous songbird with olive-green upperparts, a gray cap, and a red iris. They inhabit deciduous forests, where they feed on insects and caterpillars. Known for their persistent singing, the Red-eyed Vireo’s song is often described as a series of questions and answers.
41. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)
This tiny, active bird is known for its blue-gray plumage and long, black-and-white tail. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers inhabit deciduous and mixed forests, where they feed on small insects and spiders. Their high-pitched, buzzing calls and energetic behavior make them a delight to watch.
42. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
The American Crow, a large, all-black bird, is known for its intelligence and adaptability. Found in a wide range of habitats, from cities to rural areas, they feed on a varied diet of insects, seeds, fruit, and even carrion. American Crows are social birds, often seen in large, noisy flocks.
43. Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus)
Similar in appearance to the American Crow, the Fish Crow is distinguished by its smaller size and distinct nasal call. As their name suggests, they are often found near water, feeding on fish, crustaceans, and other aquatic creatures. Fish Crows are social birds and can form large, noisy roosts.
44. Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
The Tree Swallow is a sleek, agile bird with iridescent blue-green upperparts and white underparts. They are commonly found near water and open areas, where they feed on insects caught mid-flight. Tree Swallows nest in cavities and are known for their graceful, acrobatic flight.
45. Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
The Barn Swallow is a familiar sight in Virginia, with its deep blue upperparts, orange underparts, and distinctive forked tail. They are often seen near open fields and water, where they feed on flying insects. Barn Swallows nest in man-made structures, such as barns and bridges, and are known for their chattering calls.
46. Brown-headed Nuthatch (Sitta pusilla)
This small, agile bird is known for its distinctive brown cap, blue-gray back, and nasal calls. Brown-headed Nuthatches inhabit pine forests, where they feed on insects, seeds, and nuts. They are often seen climbing headfirst down tree trunks and branches in search of food.
47. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
The House Sparrow, an introduced species, is a familiar sight in urban and suburban areas. With their brown and gray plumage and black bib, they are often seen in flocks, feeding on seeds and human food scraps. Although some consider them a nuisance, their lively behavior and social nature make them interesting to observe.
FAQs About Virginia Birds:
What Are the Most Common Birds In Virginia?
Virginia is home to a diverse array of bird species, thanks to its varied habitats and location along the Atlantic Flyway. Some of the most common birds found across the state include the American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, and Carolina Wren. These species are frequently seen in urban, suburban, and rural areas, and are beloved by bird enthusiasts and casual observers alike.
What Are the Most Common Backyard Birds in Virginia?
Backyard birdwatching is a popular activity in Virginia, as many species are easily attracted to bird feeders and nesting boxes. Some of the most common backyard birds in Virginia include the Tufted Titmouse, Downy Woodpecker, House Finch, White-breasted Nuthatch, and the vibrant American Goldfinch. Providing a variety of food sources, such as seeds, suet, and nectar, can attract an even greater diversity of birds to your backyard.
What Are the Large Birds Found in Virginia?
Virginia is home to several large bird species, including majestic raptors and elegant wading birds. Some of the largest birds found in the state are the Bald Eagle, Great Blue Heron, Wild Turkey, Sandhill Crane, and the impressive Great Horned Owl. These large birds can often be seen soaring through the sky, wading in wetlands, or perched on treetops, showcasing the state’s rich avian biodiversity.
What Are the Common Birds of Northern Virginia?
Northern Virginia’s birdlife is influenced by its proximity to the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Some of the common birds found in this region include the Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, Chipping Sparrow, and the Black-capped Chickadee. Birdwatchers in Northern Virginia can also enjoy spotting migratory species passing through during spring and fall.
What Are the Common Birds of Virginia Beach?
Virginia Beach, located along the Atlantic Coast, provides crucial habitat for numerous shorebirds, seabirds, and waterfowl. Some of the common birds found in the area include the Royal Tern, Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull, Willet, and the iconic American Oystercatcher. During migration and winter, birders can also spot waterfowl like Brant, Northern Pintail, and Red-breasted Merganser along the coastline.
What Are the Summer Birds in Virginia?
Summer in Virginia brings an influx of colorful, vocal migrants that breed in the state’s diverse habitats. Some of the summer birds that can be spotted in Virginia include the Indigo Bunting, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Orchard Oriole, Yellow Warbler, and the Prothonotary Warbler. These species can be found in forests, wetlands, and grasslands, adding to Virginia’s vibrant summer birdlife.