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Bird Checklists of the United States

Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge

Woodbridge, Virginia


Nestled along the banks of the Potomac River, less than 20 miles from our Nation's Capitol, Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge was the first national wildlife refuge established specifically for the endangered bald eagle. Established in 1969, the refuge occupies 2,277 acres or about one-quarter of the Mason Neck peninsula as an oasis of forests and wetlands in a rapidly developing urban area. Its marsh and creeks lying so close to the wooded hills of the lower peninsula, furnish excellent nesting and wintering habitat for eagles. In winter, eagles may be sighted feeding in the Great Marsh or perched in trees along the river bluffs. During nesting season (April and May), the resident pair is only occasionally visible away from the nest while unmated eagles may be seen searching for food. In summer, adults and young birds are frequently seen soaring on thermals or trying to cool off in breezes along the river.

Eagles are not the only birds to visit Mason Neck throughout the year. The Potomac River and adjacent Great Marsh provide fall migration and winter habitat for waterfowl and other waterbirds. In winter, when only the Potomac remains ice-free, the refuge provides a unique opportunity to watch diving ducks such as hooded mergansers and buffleheads. During spring, the woods fill with waves of warblers and other songbirds returning to northern nesting areas. Sometimes overshadowing the smaller songbirds, over 1,200 pairs of great blue herons nest on the refuge, creating one of the largest heron colonies in the mid-Atlantic region in the spring and filling the marshes in the summer for many miles as silent sentinels until they cry out, alerting their neighbors to the slightest disturbance.

This folder lists 208 species, as well as an additional 17 species of accidental occurrence. Species are listed in accordance with the sixth American Ornithological Union Checklist. Abundance indices and nesting status are based on written records in the refuge files and the Virginia Society of Ornithology's Breeding Bird Atlas. Records have been checked and reviewed by dedicated refuge volunteers to insure accuracy.


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

Season
Sp - Spring - March to May
S - Summer - June to August
F - Fall - September to November
W - Winter - December to 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 known to nest on or near the Refuge


LOONS, GREBES Sp S F W ___ Common Loon u - u u ___ Pied-billed Grebe c o c u ___ Horned Grebe c - c u
GANNET, PELICANS, CORMORANTS Sp S F W ___ Double-crested Cormorant c c c -
BITTERNS, HERONS, IBISES Sp S F W ___ American Bittern u o u r ___ Least Bittern* u o u - ___ Great Blue Heron* c a a c ___ Great Egret* u u u r ___ Snowy Egret o o o - ___ Little Blue Heron o o o o ___ Tricolored Heron - r - - ___ Cattle Egret o o o - ___ Green Heron* c c c o ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* u u u -
SWANS, GEESE, DUCKS Sp S F W ___ Tundra Swan u - u c ___ Canada Goose* c u c c ___ Wood Duck* c c c c ___ Green-winged Teal c - a c ___ American Black Duck* u u c a ___ Mallard* c c c a ___ Northern Pintail u - u u ___ Blue-winged Teal c o c - ___ Northern Shoveler u - o o ___ Gadwall o - o u ___ American Wigeon u - u c ___ Canvasback o - u u ___ Redhead - - r r ___ Ring-necked Duck o - o u ___ Greater Scaup o - o o ___ Lesser Scaup c - u a ___ Common Goldeneye o - o u ___ Bufflehead c - c c ___ Hooded Merganser* c - u c ___ Common Merganser c - c a ___ Red-breasted Merganser u - u u ___ Ruddy Duck c - c c
VULTURES, HAWKS, FALCONS Sp S F W ___ Black Vulture - - o r ___ Turkey Vulture c c c c ___ Osprey* c c u - ___ Bald Eagle* c c c c ___ Northern Harrier u - u u ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk u - u u ___ Cooper's Hawk u u u u ___ Red-shouldered Hawk* u u u u ___ Broad-winged Hawk* u u u - ___ Red-tailed Hawk* u u u c ___ American Kestrel* u o u u ___ Merlin r - r - ___ Peregrine Falcon - - r -
GROUSE, QUAIL, TURKEY Sp S F W ___ Ruffed Grouse* r r r r ___ Wild Turkey* u u u u ___ Northern Bobwhite* r r r r
RAILS, CRANES Sp S F W ___ King Rail o o o o ___ Virginia Rail o o o o ___ Sora o - u - ___ Common Moorhen o o o o ___ American Coot c o c c
PLOVERS, SANDPIPERS Sp S F W ___ Killdeer* c c c c ___ Greater Yellowlegs c u u - ___ Lesser Yellowlegs u u u o ___ Solitary Sandpiper u - u - ___ Willet r - - - ___ Spotted Sandpiper c u c - ___ Least Sandpiper r - - - ___ Dunlin - - - r ___ Common Snipe u - u o ___ American Woodcock* c u u o
GULLS, TERNS Sp S F W ___ Laughing Gull o c u r ___ Bonaparte's Gull c - o u ___ Ring-billed Gull a o a a ___ Herring Gull a u a a ___ Great Black-backed Gull c o c c ___ Caspian Tern u - u - ___ Common Tern u - u - ___ Forster's Tern u - u - ___ Least Tern r - r -
DOVES, CUCKOOS, OWLS, SWIFTS, HUMMINGBIRDS Sp S F W ___ Rock Dove* o o o o ___ Mourning Dove* a a a a ___ Black-billed Cuckoo o - o - ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo* c c c - ___ Barn Owl* r r r r ___ Eastern Screech-Owl* c o o u ___ Great Horned Owl* c c c c ___ Barred Owl* c c c c ___ Common Nighthawk u u c - ___ Chuck-will's-widow r - - - ___ Whip-poor-will* r r r - ___ Chimney Swift* c c a - ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird* u c c - ___ Belted Kingfisher* c c c u
WOODPECKERS, FLYCATCHERS Sp S F W ___ Red-headed Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker u - u u ___ Downy Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Hairy Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Northern Flicker* c c c c ___ Pileated Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Eastern Wood-Pewee* c c c - ___ Yellow-bellied Flycatcher o - o - ___ Acadian Flycatcher* a a a - ___ Willow Flycatcher u o u - ___ Eastern Phoebe* c c c o ___ Great Crested Flycatcher* u c u - ___ Eastern Kingbird* c c c -
LARKS, SWALLOWS, JAYS, CROWS Sp S F W ___ Purple Martin* u u u - ___ Tree Swallow* a a a - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow* c c c - ___ Bank Swallow* u u u - ___ Cliff Swallow* o - o - ___ Barn Swallow* a a a - ___ Blue Jay* a c a c ___ American Crow* c c c a ___ Fish Crow* c c c c
TITMICE, NUTHATCHES, WRENS Sp S F W ___ Black-capped Chickadee - - - r ___ Carolina Chickadee* a a a a ___ Tufted Titmouse* a a a a ___ Red-breasted Nuthatch o - o o ___ White-breasted Nuthatch* c c c c ___ Brown Creeper* u - u c ___ Carolina Wren* a a a a ___ House Wren* u u u r ___ Winter Wren o - o o ___ Marsh Wren* u u u r
KINGLETS, THRUSHES, THRASHERS Sp S F W ___ Golden-crowned Kinglet c - c c ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet c - c o ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher* a c a - ___ Eastern Bluebird* c c u u ___ Veery o r o - ___ Gray-cheeked Thrush u - u - ___ Swainson's Thrush u - u - ___ Hermit Thrush c r c a ___ Wood Thrush* a a a - ___ American Robin* a c a c ___ Gray Catbird* c c c o ___ Northern Mockingbird* c c c c ___ Brown Thrasher* c c c o
WAXWINGS, SHRIKES, STARLING Sp S F W ___ Cedar Waxwing* c u u c ___ Loggerhead Shrike - - r r ___ European Starling* u u u u
VIREOS, WOOD WARBLERS Sp S F W ___ White-eyed Vireo* u c c - ___ Solitary Vireo* o - o - ___ Yellow-throated Vireo* u u u - ___ Warbling Vireo o - o - ___ Red-eyed Vireo* a a a - ___ Blue-winged Warbler o - u - ___ Golden-winged Warbler o - u - ___ Tennessee Warbler u - u - ___ Nashville Warbler r - o - ___ Northern Parula* c a c - ___ Yellow Warbler* u o u - ___ Chestnut-sided Warbler o - u - ___ Magnolia Warbler c - c - ___ Cape May Warbler u - u - ___ Black-throated Blue Warbler c - c - ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler c - c c ___ Black-throated Green Warbler* u - u - ___ Blackburnian Warbler u - u - ___ Yellow-throated Warbler* c u u - ___ Pine Warbler* u u c - ___ Prairie Warbler* c c c - ___ Palm Warbler u - u r ___ Bay-breasted Warbler u - u - ___ Blackpoll Warbler c o u - ___ Cerulean Warbler* u u u - ___ Black-and-white Warbler* c u c - ___ American Redstart* c c c - ___ Prothonotary Warbler* u u u - ___ Worm-eating Warbler* u u u - ___ Ovenbird* a c a - ___ Northern Waterthrush c - c - ___ Louisiana Waterthrush* u u u - ___ Kentucky Warbler* u u u - ___ Connecticut Warbler o - o - ___ Mourning Warbler r - o - ___ Common Yellowthroat* c c c o ___ Hooded Warbler* o o o - ___ Canada Warbler u - u - ___ Yellow-breasted Chat* u u u -
TANAGERS, SPARROWS Sp S F W ___ Summer Tanager u o o - ___ Scarlet Tanager* c c a - ___ Northern Cardinal* a a a a ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak u - u - ___ Blue Grosbeak o o o - ___ Indigo Bunting* a a a - ___ Rufous-sided Towhee* c c c u ___ American Tree Sparrow u - o u ___ Chipping Sparrow* u c c - ___ Field Sparrow* u u u c ___ Savannah Sparrow u - - o ___ Fox Sparrow o - o u ___ Song Sparrow* c c c c ___ Lincoln's Sparrow o - o - ___ Swamp Sparrow* u u u c ___ White-throated Sparrow a - a a ___ White-crowned Sparrow r - r r ___ Dark-eyed Junco c - c a
BLACKBIRDS, FINCHES Sp S F W ___ Red-winged Blackbird* a a a a ___ Eastern Meadowlark* o o o o ___ Rusty Blackbird u - u u ___ Common Grackle* a a a c ___ Brown-headed Cowbird* u u u u ___ Orchard Oriole* o o o - ___ Baltimore Oriole* u u u - ___ Purple Finch u - u u ___ Pine Siskin o - o o ___ American Goldfinch* c c c c ___ Evening Grosbeak r - r - ___ House Sparrow* u u u u
ACCIDENTALS - these additional 17 species have been recorded only once or twice on the Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge:

___ Anhinga                               ___ Royal Tern
___ Black Tern                            ___ Sanderling
___ Brant                                 ___ Short-eared Owl
___ Brown Pelican                         ___ Snow Goose
___ Golden Eagle                          ___ Snow Bunting
___ Mute Swan                             ___ Western Tanager
___ Northern Goshawk                      ___ White Ibis
___ Red Crossbill                         ___ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
___ Ring-necked Pheasant

For further information, contact:
                       Refuge Manager
                       Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge
                       14344 Jefferson Davis Highway
                       Woodbridge, Virginia 22191
                       Telephone: 703/690-1297
Hard of hearing of deaf visitors may call the Virginia Relay Center at 1-800-828-1120 TDD/1-800-828-1140 voice.
Mason Neck is one of more than 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 resource 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.


This resource is based on the following source:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1995.  Birds of Mason Neck National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Woodbridge, Virginia.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  
     Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  1995.  Birds of Mason Neck National Wildlife 
     Refuge, Woodbridge, Virginia.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  
     Unpaginated.  Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govmasoneck.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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