Bird identification is a critical task for anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors. No matter what kind of bird you are looking for, there is a guidebook or at least an identification card to help you out.
If you’re not sure where to look, check out our online directory of the best Virginia birds identification websites. We’ve got everything from basic information about all kinds of Virginia birds to detailed guides on specific species. As you explore the outdoors, be sure to take the time to identify every bird.
Which Type of Birds Are Found in Virginia?
The list below contains 13 bird species that you can expect to see in Virginia. Some of these birds are found throughout the United States, while others are mainly found in more southern states.
This beautiful little songbird is one of six species of “warblers” that breed in Virginia and the only one whose breeding range barely extends outside this state, occurring as far north as Iowa and Maine. They nest on branches near streams or freshwater wetlands with high coverage by deciduous trees for nesting material.
This colorful vireo is the only North American vireo that nests in large colonies. They are found in open areas of forest, thickets, and fields. They feed mainly on insects which they catch by flycatching.
There are a number of different calls which make this bird distinct from others of its genus, including the one-note “Chih-cree” call, two-note “chee chee chee” call, and two long whistles similar to those of the Western Bluebird.
This large blackbird is a common summer resident in Virginia which can be found at feeders placed outside or near buildings. They are omnivorous and will eat almost anything, from berries to dog food. Males are very territorial during mating season, and will often dive-bomb anyone who comes near the nest.
Another brown color bird can be found all over the United States. It is a common summer resident of suburban areas in Virginia where it forages for insects along roads, lawns, and hedgerows.
The song is a variable mixture of warbles trills, squeaks, and imitations of other birds’ songs such as “fink-a-dee-do”, “tsee-lee”, “teacher” and “wheet-wheet”.
These yellow birds are winter residents of Virginia, spending from September to March in the southernmost counties. They build their nests on the ground in grassy fields or pastures. They can be easily distinguished from other blackbirds by their long, clear, descending song which sounds like “pur-lee-lurk”.
Expert Tip: It is one of only two state birds that are not protected by the law.
One of Virginia’s more common native jays is this blue and white bird with a crest on its head. They feed on nuts and berries they crack using their strong bills, while also eating insects and even small rodents. Their loud, harsh “caw” is familiar to most people.
This is the state bird of Kansas, Nebraska, and North Dakota, and the only blackbird that nests on the ground in Virginia. The nest is built by both parents on the ground in a grassy field or pasture near a grain field where insects are abundant. They forage for insects in fields and along roadsides during the day.
The male sings from atop a fence post or other high spot during the breeding season which begins in early April, with three distinct songs: “dee-dee-dee”, “keerh keerh keerh”, and a whistled “sweet sweet sweet”.
Many of the smaller birds in Virginia’s forests are either directly or indirectly dependent on cowbirds for food, including Blue Jays, Carolina Wrens, Eastern Bluebirds, and White-eyed Vireos. These birds nest on the ground in open fields or along fence rows or trails. Once a pair mates, it will remain together for life.
Their courtship display is different than most other species because they hop around and flutter their wings with a drone-like “(chirp chirp-chirp)”. The male also produces a very loud vocal ’woof-woof” like noise.
This is the state bird of several southern states, including North Carolina and Virginia. This small blackbird feeds on insects and is most often seen near open fields or at feeders. The male produces a series of loud “pee pee pee pee” calls during the breeding season.
This small wren species is found in open areas such as grasslands, fields, woodlands, and suburban yards. They feed on insects including insects caught by a number of other birds that are feeding on insects at the same location. The male attracts a female by singing from his perch in a tree or bush at dusk.
A wren will build a cup-shaped nest lined with grass or leaves in small brushy trees, on fences, and even utility lines. They have a loud “zip” song and are the state bird of New Jersey.
The beautiful male cardinal can be found in most suburban areas, where it feeds mainly on seeds. The female builds the nest which is lined with fine grass and hair in thick shrubs or tiny trees near woods, hedges, and tall weeds. It also eats insects during the summer months as well as berries during winter.
Birds begin nesting in March but eggs are rarely laid until May, so cardinals are seldom seen at feeders during this time of year.
The Black-capped Chickadee Bird
The chickadee is Virginia’s only woodpecker species. It has a number of calls that include its “chick-a-dee”, “tchik” and even “chirp”. It is well known for tapping on windows and tree trunks.
Chickadees can be found in urban and suburban areas as well as woodlots, parks, and fields. They eat fruits, sap, and insects such as ants, spiders, and other small insects.
Expert Tip: They can be seen in trees wherever they have found food or are keeping warm during cool weather at night.
The red-headed woodpecker can be found throughout Virginia. It is a distant relative of the American black bear and lives mainly in forests where it eats large insects, grubs, small rodents, and fruits. The red-headed woodpecker’s diet is almost completely vegetarian, although it will also consume some animal prey like mice.
A pecking order exists among the woodpeckers which determines who can access preferred foraging sites for nesting cavities such as dead trees or abandoned woodlots.
What is the most common bird in Virginia?
Northern Cardinals are among the most abundant and widely distributed backyard feeding birds in the eastern and southern United States. Even non-birders are familiar with the Northern Cardinal, which appears on ornaments, is the state bird of seven states, and serves as the mascot for numerous pro and collegiate sports teams.
The Northern Cardinal is a fairly huge, long-tailed songbird with a small, thick beak and a conspicuous crest. Cardinals frequently sit with their heads bowed and their tails pointing straight down. Male cardinals are bright red all around, with a reddish beak and a black face directly around the beak.
Females are pale brown uniformly, with mild reddish varying shades in the wings, tail, and crest. They share the same black face and a red-orange bill. Cardinals also live in shrubs or small wood edges all year. Their favorite foods include black oil sunflower seeds.
Many different types of seeds, berries, and nuts are in larger hoppers or tray feeders.
Virginia is home to some of the most diverse bird species in the country. From the bald eagle to the toucan, there are plenty of birds to see and learn about in this beautiful state. If you’re looking for a place to explore all of Virginia’s bird species, check out our website.