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Bird Checklists of the United States

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge

small state map showing location

Virginia Beach, Virginia


Welcome

With such varied habitats as sand dunes, ocean beach, marsh, shrublands, and maritime forest, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge has a rich, diverse bird population. In the spring, colorful warblers and other songbirds stop over on their northward migration. Many stay and nest through the summer. Wading birds and marshbirds may be easily observed during summer visits. In the autumn, spectacular concentrations of many waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors occur. Wintering flocks of swans, geese, and ducks are common, while storms and cold fronts may bring rare birds to the area.

Back Bay Refuge, established in 1938, comprises 7,732 acres and is located in southeastern Virginia on the mainstream of the Atlantic Flyway. Adjacent to the population centers of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, it has become a showcase for large concentrations of waterfowl.

This folder lists 298 species, as well as an additional 28 species of accidentals that have been seen only or two times. Abundance indexes are based on written records in the refuge files and obtained from ornithology researchers' files; however, nesting status is based on spring abundances and/or behavior. Common bird names are in accordance with the Sixth American Ornithological Union checklist.


Most birds are migratory, therefore, their seasonal occurrence is coded as follows:

Season

s - Spring- March-May
S - Summer- June-August
F - Fall- September-November
W - Winter- December-February

Relative Abundance

a - abundant: a species which is very numerous
c - common: likely to be seen or heard in suitable habitat
u - uncommon: present, but not certain to be seen
o - occasional: seen only a few times during a season
r - rare: may be present but not every year
* - birds know to nest on the refuge
# - indicates threatened/endangered species


LOONS-GREBES s S F W ___ Red-throated Loon u - u u ___ Common Loon u o c u ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c u c c ___ Horned Grebe u - u u ___ Red-necked Grebe o - o r
SHEARWATERS-STORM-PETRELS s S F W ___ Cory's Shearwater r r - - ___ Greater Shearwater o o - - ___ Sooty Shearwater o o - - ___ Wilson's Storm-Petrel - o - -
GANNET-PELICANS-CORMORANTS s S F W ___ Northern Gannet c - c c ___ American White Pelican r - r r ___ Brown Pelican c c c o ___ Great Cormorant r - r r ___ Double-crested Cormorant a u a u
BITTERNS-HERONS-IBISES s S F W ___ American Bittern* u u u u ___ Least Bittern* u u o - ___ Great Blue Heron* c c c c ___ Great Egret c c c u ___ Snowy Egret c c c u ___ Little Blue Heron u u u u ___ Tricolored Heron u u u r ___ Cattle Egret* o u o r ___ Green-backed Heron* u u u o ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron u u u o ___ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron o o o r ___ White Ibis o o o r ___ Glossy Ibis u c c r
SWANS-GEESE-DUCKS s S F W ___ Fulvous Whistling-Duck - - r r ___ Tundra Swan u r u c ___ Greater White-fronted Goose - - - r ___ Snow Goose a - a a ___ Brant o - o o ___ Canada Goose c u o c ___ Wood Duck* u u c o ___ Green-winged Teal c - a a ___ American Black Duck* c u a a ___ Mallard* c u a a ___ Northern Pintail u - u c ___ Blue-winged Teal c u c o ___ Northern Shoveler u - u u ___ Gadwall* c o c c ___ Eurasian Wigeon r - r r ___ American Wigeon u - u c ___ Canvasback u - u - ___ Redhead o - o o ___ Ring-necked Duck u - u u ___ Greater Scaup u - u u ___ Lesser Scaup u - u u ___ Common Eider - - o - ___ King Eider - - r - ___ Oldsquaw o - o o ___ Black Scoter o - c u ___ Surf Scoter o - c u ___ White-winged Scoter o - u u ___ Common Goldeneye o - o o ___ Bufflehead u - u u ___ Hooded Merganser o r o o ___ Common Merganser o - o o ___ Red-breasted Merganser u r u c ___ Ruddy Duck u - u u
VULTURES-HAWKS-FALCONS s S F W ___ Black Vulture o o o r ___ Turkey Vulture c c c o ___ Osprey* c c c r ___ American Swallow-tailed Kite o - - - ___ Bald Eagle# u u o o ___ Northern Harrier c r c c ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk u r c u ___ Cooper's Hawk o - o o ___ Northern Goshawk - - r - ___ Red-shouldered Hawk* u u u u ___ Broad-winged Hawk o - o - ___ Red-tailed Hawk u u u u ___ Rough-legged Hawk - - r r ___ American Kestrel* c u c c ___ Merlin o - c o ___ Peregrine Falcon# u o u o
QUAIL-RAILS s S F W ___ Northern Bobwhite* c c c c ___ Yellow Rail r r r r ___ Black Rail u u u - ___ Clapper Rail* o o o o ___ King Rail* u u u u ___ Virginia Rail* c c c o ___ Sora o u o u ___ Purple Gallinule o o - - ___ Common Moorhen u o u u ___ American Coot u r c c
SHOREBIRDS s S F W ___ Black-bellied Plover c c c o ___ Lesser Golden-Plover o - o - ___ Wilson's Plover r r r - ___ Semipalmated Plover c u c u ___ Piping Plover# o o o - ___ Killdeer* u u u u ___ American Oystercatcher o o o - ___ Black-necked Stilt o o r - ___ American Avocet r r r - ___ Greater Yellowlegs c c a c ___ Lesser Yellowlegs c c c c ___ Solitary Sandpiper u u u - ___ Willet u u u r ___ Spotted Sandpiper u o u r ___ Upland Sandpiper o - o - ___ Whimbrel u o u r ___ Hudsonian Godwit r - r - ___ Marbled Godwit - r r - ___ Ruddy Turnstone c c c r ___ Red Knot u u u - ___ Sanderling a c a a ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper c o c - ___ Western Sandpiper u u c o ___ Least Sandpiper c r c o ___ White-rumped Sandpiper u r u - ___ Baird's Sandpiper - - r - ___ Pectoral Sandpiper u - u r ___ Dunlin u u c c ___ Stilt Sandpiper r o o - ___ Buff-breasted Sandpiper r - r - ___ Ruff r - r - ___ Short-billed Dowitcher c u u - ___ Long-billed Dowitcher u u u - ___ Common Snipe c u c u ___ American Woodcock u o u u ___ Wilson's Phalarope r r r - ___ Red-necked Phalarope r r r -
JAEGERS-GULLS-TERNS-AUKS s S F W ___ Pomarine Jaeger r - r r ___ Parasitic Jaeger r - r r ___ Laughing Gull c c c u ___ Little Gull - - r - ___ Common Black-headed Gull - r - - ___ Bonaparte's Gull c - o c ___ Ring-billed Gull a a a a ___ Herring Gull c c c c ___ Iceland Gull r - r r ___ Lesser Black-backed Gull u o u u ___ Glaucous Gull r - r r ___ Great Black-backed Gull c o c a ___ Black-legged Kittiwake r - r r ___ Gull-billed Tern o o o - ___ Caspian Tern u o u - ___ Royal Tern c c c r ___ Sandwich Tern u c u - ___ Roseate Tern# r r - - ___ Common Tern o c c o ___ Forster's Tern c u c o ___ Least Tern# u u u - ___ Black Tern o o o - ___ Black Skimmer o o o - ___ Common Murre - - - r
DOVES-CUCKOOS-OWLS-SWIFTS-HUMMINGBIRDS s S F W ___ Rock Dove* o o o o ___ Mourning Dove* c c c u ___ Black-billed Cuckoo r r r - ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo u u u - ___ Barn Owl* o o o o ___ Eastern Screech Owl* u u u u ___ Great Horned Owl u u u u ___ Barred Owl* o o o o ___ Short-eared Owl - - r r ___ Common Nighthawk u u - - ___ Chuck-will's Widow* c c u - ___ Chimney Swift* c u u - ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird* c u o - ___ Belted Kingfisher* c c c c
WOODPECKERS-FLYCATCHERS s S F W ___ Red-headed Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker o - o o ___ Downy Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Hairy Woodpecker* o o o o ___ Northern Flicker* c u c u ___ Pileated Woodpecker r r r r ___ Eastern Wood-Pewee* u u u - ___ Yellow-bellied Flycatcher u - u - ___ Acadian Flycatcher o - o - ___ Alder Flycatcher o - o - ___ Willow Flycatcher o - o - ___ Least Flycatcher - - u - ___ Eastern Phoebe* u u u u ___ Great Crested Flycatcher* u u u - ___ Western Kingbird - - r - ___ Eastern Kingbird* c u c - ___ Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher o o - -
LARKS-SWALLOWS-JAYS-CROWS s S F W ___ Horned Lark r r r r ___ Purple Martin* c c c - ___ Tree Swallow* c c a u ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow u u r - ___ Bank Swallow u u r - ___ Cliff Swallow o o o - ___ Barn Swallow* c u c - ___ Blue Jay* u u u u ___ American Crow* c u c u ___ Fish Crow* c c c c
TITMICE-NUTHATCHES-WRENS s S F W ___ Carolina Chickadee* u u u u ___ Tufted Titmouse* u u u u ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch r - o r ___ White-breasted Nuthatch* u u u u ___ Brown-headed Nuthatch* u u u u ___ Brown Creeper u - u u ___ Carolina Wren* c c c u ___ House Wren* c o c u ___ Sedge Wren u o u u ___ Marsh Wren* c c c u
KINGLETS-THRUSHES-THRASHERS s S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet u - u u ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet u - c u ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher* u u o - ___ Eastern Bluebird* u u u u ___ Veery o - u - ___ Gray-cheeked Thrush o - u - ___ Swainson's Thrush o - u - ___ Hermit Thrush u - u u ___ Wood Thrush* u u u - ___ American Robin* a c c u ___ Gray Catbird* c c c o ___ Northern Mockingbird* c c c c ___ Brown Thrasher* c c c c
WAXWINGS-SHRIKES-STARLINGS s S F W ___ American Pipit o - o o ___ Cedar Waxwing u - u u ___ Loggerhead Shrike r - r r ___ European Starling* a c a u
VIREOS-WOOD WARBLERS s S F W ___ White-eyed Vireo* c c u - ___ Solitary Vireo c - c r ___ Yellow-throated Vireo u u o - ___ Philadelphia Vireo - - u - ___ Red-eyed Vireo* c c c - ___ Tennessee Warbler o - o - ___ Orange-crowned Warbler u - u u ___ Nashville Warbler o - o - ___ Northern Parula* u u u - ___ Yellow Warbler* c c c - ___ Chestnut-sided Warbler o - o - ___ Magnolia Warbler u - u - ___ Cape May Warbler o - c r ___ Black-throated Blue Warbler u - u - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler a - a a ___ Black-throated Green Warbler o - o r ___ Blackburnian Warbler o - o - ___ Yellow-throated Warbler* o o o - ___ Pine Warbler* c o u o ___ Prairie Warbler* c c c o ___ Palm Warbler c c c o ___ Bay-breasted Warbler r - u - ___ Blackpoll Warbler c - c - ___ Black-and-white Warbler* u u u r ___ American Redstart* u o c - ___ Prothonotary Warbler* c u c - ___ Worm-eating Warbler o o o - ___ Ovenbird* c o u - ___ Northern Waterthrush c - c - ___ Louisiana Waterthrush* o u o - ___ Kentucky Warbler o o o - ___ Connecticut Warbler - - r - ___ Mourning Warbler r - r - ___ Common Yellowthroat* a c u u ___ Hooded Warbler* u u u - ___ Wilson's Warbler r - o - ___ Canada Warbler o - o - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat* u u u u
TANAGERS-SPARROW s S F W ___ Summer Tanager* u u u - ___ Scarlet Tanager u - r - ___ Northern Cardinal* c c c c ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak u - o - ___ Blue Grosbeak* u u u - ___ Indigo Bunting* o u c - ___ Dickcissel - - r r ___ Rufous-sided Towhee* a c c u ___ American Tree Sparrow - - r r ___ Chipping Sparrow* c c u o ___ Clay-colored Sparrow - - o - ___ Field Sparrow* u u c u ___ Vesper Sparrow o - o u ___ Lark Sparrow - - r r ___ Savannah Sparrow* c o c c ___ Grasshopper Sparrow o u o u ___ Henslow's Sparrow r r r - ___ LeConte's Sparrow - - r r ___ Sharp-tailed Sparrow u - u u ___ Seaside Sparrow u - u o ___ Fox Sparrow o - o o ___ Song Sparrow* c c c c ___ Swamp Sparrow c - c c ___ White-throated Sparrow c - c c ___ White-crowned Sparrow o - o r ___ Dark-eyed Junco c - c c ___ Lapland Longspur - - r r ___ Snow Bunting - - o u
BLACKBIRDS-FINCHES s S F W ___ Bobolink c - c - ___ Red-winged Blackbird* a a a a ___ Eastern Meadowlark* c c c u ___ Yellow-headed Blackbird - r r r ___ Rusty Blackbird - - r o ___ Boat-tailed Grackle* a a a a ___ Common Grackle* c c c c ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* c u c c ___ Orchard Oriole* u u u - ___ Northern Oriole c - c r ___ Purple Finch o - o o ___ House Finch c u c r ___ Pine Siskin o - o o ___ American Goldfinch* u o u u ___ Evening Grosbeak u - - u ___ House Sparrow* u u u u

ACCIDENTALS

The following species have been seen on the refuge one or two times:

Eared Grebe                     Common Ground Dove
Audubon's Shearwater            Snowy Owl
Leach's Storm-Petrel            Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Wood Stork                      Black Whiskered Vireo
Harlequin Duck                  Warbling Vireo
Sandhill Crane                  Blue-winged Warbler
Purple Sandpiper                Cerulean Warbler
Sabine's Gull                   Swainson's Warbler
Gray-headed Gull                Audubon's Warbler
Dovekie                         Western Tanager
Thick-billed Murre              Lark Bunting
Razerbill                       Lincoln's Sparrow
Black Gullemot                  Brewer's Blackbird
Atlantic Puffin                 White-winged Crossbill

Back Bay is one of over 500 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The National Wildlife Refuge System is a network of lands and waters managed specifically for the protection of wildlife and wildlife habitat and represents the most comprehensive wildlife management program in the world. Units of the system stretch across the United States from northern Alaska to the Florida Keys and include small islands in the Caribbean and South Pacific. The character of the refuges is as diverse as the nation itself.

The Service also manages National Fish Hatcheries, and provides Federal leadership in habitat protection, fish and wildlife research, technical assistance and the conservation and protection of migratory birds, certain marine mammals and threatened and endangered species.


For additional information contact:

                 Refuge Manager
                 Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge
                 4005 Sandpiper Road 
                 Virginia Beach, VA 23456
                 Telephone: (804) 721-2412

Hearing impaired visitors may call the Virginia Relay Center at 1-800-828-1120
TDD/1-800-828-1140 voice.

This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1996.  Birds of Back Bay National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Virginia Beach, Virginia.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  
     Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1996.  Birds of Back Bay National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Virginia Beach, Virginia.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  
     Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govbackbay.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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