RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There are over 400 species of birds found in Virginia, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
Of those, birdwatchers should look out for the following rare species:
This species, like most owls, is nocturnal. In an article by the Department of Conservation and Recreation in 2011, these owls come to Virginia during their winter migration from Canada. They have been seen in Shenandoah National Park.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS), saltmarsh sparrows are the only bird species that breeds exclusively in the salt marshes of the Northeast United States.
“More than four out of every five saltmarsh sparrows have disappeared since 1998 – an estimated population decline of 87%,” said the FWS. The DCR said that these sparrows are ranked to be at high risk of extinction.
3. Golden eagle
Golden eagles may be confused with young bald eagles due to similarities in size and color. In Virginia, this species can be seen migrating south between October and early December, and north during April and May, according to the DCR.
This species of woodpeckers have distinctive large, white “cheek patches” and a white ladder-like pattern on their wings, according to the DCR. Unlike other woodpeckers, they are social and live in family groups with a highly developed breeding system.
5. Purple finch
Despite the name, purple finches appear to be more of a rose color. A daily record high of 86 purple finches at Kiptopeke State Park in Virginia was recorded by the DCR in November 2014.
In All About Birding by Cornell Ornithological Lab, this species is described as having “the second longest legs in proportion to its body, exceeded only by flamingos.” The DCR said the stilt’s diet consists mostly of frogs, brine shrimp, tadpoles, fish, crayfish, beetles and grasshoppers.
Found only in North America, this species of shrike are mostly found on grazed pastures. They are described by the DCR as having a large blocky head relative to their body.
The DCR describes the brown pelican as having long bills with an extendable pouch going to the throat, and a cartoonish walk. They can be found in coastal areas, such as the Chesapeake Bay.
Anyone interested in finding more information about other rare birds found in Virginia can look at the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s website.