26 Types of Birds in Virginia | Identification with Photos

Virginia is an incredible state to visit in terms of bird watching because it is home to over 400 avian species. Due to Virginia’s rich diversity of habitats, it is considered a haven for a huge variety of bird species. 

From coastal species residing along the Atlantic Ocean to grassland species inhabiting Piedmont to species that live in the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains, there is an opportunity to see birds anywhere! The relatively humid and subtropical climate of Virginia is also very attractive to avian species alike.

What Type of Birds Can You Find in Virginia?

Being home to hundreds of avian species, it is no surprise the birds of Virginia are incredibly diverse. The state hosts virtually all types of birds one can imagine, from large raptors to colorful songbirds to frequent backyard visitors. 

This list covers only a handful of the birds of Virginia, but it highlights their diversity. From behavior to diet to morphology, every bird is unique in one way or another. 

Birds of Virginia Identification List 

The birds listed in this article are divided into subcategories, emphasizing their diversity. Some of the species on this list are small, backyard birds that may commonly be observed at birdfeeders, such as the common redpoll and house sparrow. These species tend to be easily adaptive and can feast on a variety of food as well as frequent a range of habitats. 

On the other hand, some species are much more specialized in their behavior. For example, the chimney swift can never land, and only briefly rests when clinging to the inside of chimneys. 

Possibly the most obvious differences the species exhibit is their plumages. Whilst some species, such as the American goldfinch and blue jay boast vibrant feathers, others like the Carolina wren are much more subdued. All being residents of Virginia, these birds tend to occupy the whole of the state, within their habitat ranges. 

Native Birds of Virginia

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch Birds in Virginia
American Goldfinch perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Spinus tristis 

During the breeding season, male American goldfinches boast vibrant yellow plumage, with contrasting black wings and a black forehead. Breeding females are olive-yellow and non-breeding individuals have drab brown feathers. 

American goldfinches feed almost exclusively on seeds and favor sunflower seeds. They frequent weedy, overgrown habitats that provide plenty of food sources. 

The American goldfinch is abundant throughout much of North America. They migrate South over the winter.

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee
Carolina Chickadee perched on a log
Credit: DickDaniels

Scientific Name: Poecile carolinensis

The Carolina chickadee has a large, spherical head in comparison to its body. They have slate-gray upper parts and are pale underneath. Their white cheeks are contrasted by a black cap and throat.

Being a social species, these birds gather in flocks to forage for insects, making up about 90% of their diet. 

Carolina chickadees frequent dense, deciduous woodlands and forests. They have a fairly small range in Northeast America.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren perched on a twig
Credit: Carolina Wren

Scientific Name: Thryothorus ludovicianus

Carolina wrens have iconic white eyebrows and red-brown plumage with a pale belly. Faint barring adorns their wings and tail. 

Fruit and arthropods make up the majority of their diet, which they forage for among vegetation. Their fairly long bill is perfectly adapted for such a diet. 

Carolina wrens occupy vegetated habitats including woodlands, overgrown farmland, and bushy suburban yards. They are distributed across Eastern America. 

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker perched on a branch
Credit: Rhododendrites

Scientific Name: Dryobates pubescens

Downy woodpeckers are not too dissimilar from hairy woodpeckers. They have white underparts and black and white checked patterns along their wings and back. Males exhibit a bright red crown.

Downy woodpeckers feast on invertebrates that they excavate from tree bark using their long, pointed bill. They supplement their diet with plant matter, suet, and seeds which they obtain from backyard bird feeders.

Open woodland habitats throughout the United States are where these birds can be found. The downy woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker species in North America, averaging around 6 inches in length.

House Finch

House Finch
House Finch foraging on a bird feeder
Credit: Rhododendrites

Scientific Name: Haemorhous mexicanus

The House Finch is a species of passerine bird found throughout North America. It is approximately five to seven inches in length, with a short forked tail, and has a variety of colors ranging from reds, browns, and greys depending on the individual’s sex and geographical range.

The House Finch is an omnivorous species that feeds mainly on seeds from plants such as sunflowers and grasses but also eats insects, fruits, and berries. It is typically found in open wooded areas such as parks and gardens near human habitation.

House Finches form strong pair bonds that last for more than one breeding season. They build their nests out of twigs and other materials they find in the environment – often using man-made objects like clotheslines or window sills – with the male gathering materials while the female builds the nest.

A notable characteristic of House Finches is their adaptability to their environments due to their ability to eat a wide variety of foods making them successful colonizers. This has resulted in them becoming one of the most abundant birds in North America today.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal
Northern Cardinal perched on a branch
Credit: gary_leavens

Scientific Name: Cardinalis cardinalis

Male northern cardinals boast bright red plumage and a red bill. They have a mask of black feathers over their face. On the other hand, females have grey-brown feathers but still possess a red bill. 

Males raise a red crest when they are agitated. These birds live in open woodland habitats and feast mainly on seeds, grains, and fruits. They forage on the ground using their cone-shaped beak. 

Northern cardinals are distributed in the Eastern parts of North America. They are also the state bird of Virginia.

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird
Northern Mockingbird perched on a leafy branch
Credit: Ryan Hagerty

Scientific Name: Mimus polyglottos 

Northern mockingbirds are grey-brown overall with white patches on their wings. Their belly is pale white. 

Being omnivores, these birds feast on insects, plant matter, and even lizards. Mockingbirds are so-called due to their range of vocalizations. They can imitate birds, animals, and even man-made objects.

Northern mockingbirds can be found in suburban habitats across the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Red Winged Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird
Red Winged Blackbird perched on a branch
Credit: gary_leavens

Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus

Red-winged blackbirds have black feathers with bright red and yellow patches on their wings. Larger, brighter wing spots are correlated with higher mating success. 

Being omnivores, they forage for arthropods and seeds among the shrubbery. 

Red-winged blackbirds are ubiquitous across North America and inhabit wetlands, living in both freshwater and saltwater marshes.

Songbirds of Virginia

American Crow

American Crow
American Crow perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Corvus brachyrhynchos 

The American crow has black plumage that is slightly iridescent. They also have a black bill and feet.

Crows are a very intelligent species and are able to mimic the alarm calls of a number of other animals and even replicate mechanical sounds, such as car alarms.

They can be found in both rural and urban environments. Crowns feed on almost anything ranging from berries to insects to carrion. 

The American crow is distributed throughout Canada and the United States.

American Robin

American Robin
American Robin perched on barbed wire
Credit: Lip Kee

Scientific Name: Turdus migratorius

The American robin is so-called due to their distinctive red breast, present in both males and females. The rest of their feathers are a brown-grey color, except the detail which is white. 

Fruit and berries make up the bulk of their diet, alongside small invertebrates, for which they forage on the ground. 

Various habitats including woodland, farmland, and urban areas are where they reside. They are distributed throughout North and Central America, from Canada to Northern Mexico. 

White Breasted Nuthatch

White Breasted Nuthatch
White Breasted Nuthatch perched on a stump
Credit: Elaine R. Wilson

White-breasted nuthatches are grey overall with a white chest and head that is outlined with black feathers.

Nuts make up the bulk of their diet, which they wedge into the tree bark and break open with their sharp bill to “hatch” the seeds out. 

White-breasted nuthatches occupy the warmer, mature forests that are scattered across North America.

White Throated Sparrow

White Throated Sparrow
White Throated Sparrow perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Zonotrichia albicollis 

As their name suggests, they have a prominent white patch on their throat which stands out from their gray underside. Their back and wings are brown and adorned with black streaks. They also have black stripes along their head and bright yellow lores. 

White-throated sparrows forage in flocks, consuming seeds they find on the ground. 

White-throated sparrows frequent densely vegetated forests across Canada and Northeast America. 

Backyard Birds of Virginia

Chimney Swift

Chimney Swift
Chimney Swifts inside a chimney
Credit: Greg Schechter

Scientific Name: Chaetura pelagica

Chimney swifts plumage is soot-gray in color. They spend most of their life in flight as they are unable to perch and can only cling to vertical walls, like those inside chimneys. 

Being arial forages, catch and consume airborne insects. They are common in urban habitats that have an abundance of chimneys. 

Chimney swifts migrate from Northeast America to Northern South America for the winter.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpoll
Common Redpoll perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Acanthis flammea 

The Common Redpoll is a species of passerine bird found throughout North America. It is approximately four to five inches in length, with a short forked tail, and has a distinct red cap, streaked back and sides, and a white face.

Common Redpolls are insectivorous birds that feed mainly on seeds including birch, dandelion, thistle, and other weeds. They are typically found in open wooded areas such as parks and gardens near human habitation.

Common Redpolls form strong pair bonds that last for more than one breeding season. Their nests are usually built low to the ground in dense shrubs or trees using twigs, grasses, mosses, and fur collected by the male while the female builds the nest structure.

A notable characteristic of Common Redpolls is their adaptability to cold climates due to their thick coats of feathers which enable them to survive even during extreme winter weather conditions. This makes them well-suited for life in North America where they inhabit many regions across the continent.

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak perched on a branch
Credit: Cephas

Males boast eye-catching plumage which is predominantly bright yellow. They have gray heads with yellow eyebrows and bold black and white wings. Females also have black and white wings but are mostly gray in color. 

A combination of seeds and invertebrates constitute this bird’s diet. They are mainly ground foragers but can also be observed feeding among shrubs and trees. 

Evening grosbeaks favor mature, coniferous forests to breed in, but will also occupy more urban habitats. They are distributed around North America but will venture as far as southern Mexico to breed. 

House Sparrow

House Sparrow
Male house sparrow perched on a picnic table
Credit: Adamo

Scientific Name: Passer domesticus

Both sexes are brown and grey, but males are more vibrant and have additional white markings. These monogamous pairs raise their chicks in nests built in cavities. Their eggs are white-green and coated in grey speckles. 

House sparrows are a social and gregarious species that feed opportunistically on insects and seeds. 

House sparrows are strongly associated with human urbanization and activity, inhabiting many man-made structures. Originating from the Middle East but are now abundant in every continent except Antarctica.

Blue Birds in Virginia

Blue Jay

Blue Jay
Blue Jay perched on a branch
Credit: Rob Hanson

Scientific Name: Cyanocitta cristata

Blue jays have a light purple-blue plumage with a white face and belly. Black stripes adorn the wings and tail. 

Nuts comprise a huge part of their diet, which they crack open using their strong, conical beak. They also glean insects and consume fruits, seeds, and eggs. 
The blue jay favors woodland edge habitats and is distributed from Southern Canada to Northern America.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebird perched on a wire
Credit: Snowmanradio

Scientific Name: Sialia sialis 

Females have a subdued orange breast with a gray-blue head, back, wings and tail. Males are much more vibrant, boasting vibrant blue plumage with rusty-orange breasts.

Eastern bluebirds consume mainly insects but also berries that they forage for on the ground. 

They live in open habitats, nesting in boxes or tree holes excavated by previous birds. They are distributed across North and South America.

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting
Male Indigo Bunting perched on a branch
Credit: Indigo Bunting

Scientific Name: Passerina cyanea

Exhibiting sexual dimorphism, males boast bright blue plumage with dark brown wings and tail tips. Females on the other hand are brown with a paler chest and belly. 

Indigo buntings are foliage gleaners, foraging for seeds and insects to consume in low vegetation. 

Brushy and weedy areas constitute this bird’s habitat and they are distributed across Eastern North America.

Purple Martin

Purple Martin
Female Purple Martin in flight
Credit: Peterwchen

Females have dull gray-blue feathers. Their belly is pale and dabbled with dark streaks. Males on the other hand have a dark, iridescent purple-blue plumage. 

Being insectivores, these birds feast on arthropods that they catch whilst in the air. They inhabit open areas such as parks and fields, that are located near streams, lakes, or ponds. 

Purple martins breed across Eastern North America and migrate further south over the winter months.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow perched on a nest box
Credit: Rhododendrites

Males are blue-green on their head and back and they have black flight feathers. Their neck and belly is white. Females on the other hand have a duller brown plumage. 

Insects and arthropods make up the majority of their diet, which they catch from the air. Such insects include bees, dragonflies, moths, and spiders. 

Tree swallows reside in open habitats situated near bodies of water, including marshes and swamps. Wetlands provide a plethora of flying insects for them to consume. 

Tree swallows are distributed throughout North America and migrate further South to winter. 

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow perched on barbed wire
Credit: Alun Williams333

Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica 

Barn swallows have a cobalt blue back, wings, and tail, which contrast with their rusty orange face, chest, and belly. These colors are more vibrant in males than in females. 

They are aerial foragers, catching insects from the ground or the surface of the water as they hover above them. 

Barn swallows are highly adaptable and can thrive in both rural meadows and urban barns. They migrate long distances from North America to the South.

Large Birds in Virginia


Osprey perched on a stump
Credit: מינוזיג

Scientific Name: Pandion haliaetus

The Osprey is a fish-eating bird found throughout North America. It is approximately 20 to 25 inches in length, with a long wingspan and a distinctive white head, and a dark brown back.

Ospreys are carnivorous birds that feed mainly on live fish which they catch by diving into the water feet first. They prefer shallow lakes, rivers, estuaries, and marine coasts for their habitat and can be spotted perched atop tall trees or stones near these bodies of water.

Ospreys form strong pair bonds that last for more than one breeding season. They build their nests out of sticks, typically high up in dead trees or on man-made structures like power poles or towers. The male gathers material from the immediate area while the female builds the nest structure.

A notable characteristic of Ospreys is their adaptability to different habitats due to their ability to migrate up to several thousand miles when needed. This makes them well-suited for life in North America where they inhabit many regions across the continent including coastal regions, waterways, and even cities.

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl perched on a branch
Credit: Derek Bakken

Scientific Name: Bubo virginianus 

The great horned owl gets its name from the long horn-like ear tufts it possesses. These large birds have mottled brown plumage though their face can range from gray to brown in color. Their large, yellow eyes are framed by their bushy V-shaped eyebrows.

As a bird of prey species, the great horned owl has a diverse, carnivorous diet. Their prey ranges from small rodents to other birds, some of which may be larger than themselves.

Great horned owls favor large forests, though also frequent suburban areas, wetlands, and open habitats. They are distributed across North, South, and Central America.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane in flight
Credit: Frank Schulenburg

Sandhill crane’s bulky body is brown, and its neck is slate gray. Their forehead is a distinct bright red, and their legs and bill are long and dark gray. During the flight, they keep their long necks extended. 

These birds follow a mainly herbivorous diet, feasting on berries, seeds, and other plant matter in vegetated wetlands. Occasionally, they will consume insects, mollusks, and amphibians. 

Sandhill cranes use their long necks to forage in the ground of shallow waters. These birds are distributed throughout America.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican
American White Pelican swimming in the water
Credit: Zeynel Cebeci

Scientific Name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos 

The American white pelican has almost completely white plumage, aside from the tips of its wings which are black. Their legs, webbed feet, and large bill are yellow-orange in color.

When the breeding season hits, a bulbous projection will form at the top of the upper mandible. The pelican is an aquatic species and spends the majority of its time swimming in the water, hunting for small fish to feast on.

American white pelicans forage in groups. Using their skin pouch, they are able to take large gulps of water which is then screened out, leaving the fish in their bill ready to be swallowed. They can be found across North, Central, and South America. 

Birds in Virginia FAQs

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