April 21-23, 2016
When winter’s grip loosens and spring blossoms, the charming songs of as many as 35 species of Neotropical warblers fill the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival is a birder’s paradise with more than 200 bird species nesting here or passing through.
Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival Species
Springtime is the most popular time for birders to visit the area. Serious bird watchers will delight in catching a glimpse of the Swainson’s Warbler and the Wayne’s Warbler (a subspecies of the Black Throated Green Warbler), two of the most secretive and least observed of all of North American birds. Bird watchers can also catch a “peep” of the white-throated Sparrow, the graceful Great Egret and even the regal Bald Eagle. Other birds of interest that can be seen in the Refuge include the wood duck, barred owl, pileated woodpecker and prothonotary warbler.
So grab your binoculars and make a plan to head out to the Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival.
Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is the largest intact remnant of a vast habitat that once covered more than one million acres of southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.
Great Dismal Swamp Birds
Over two hundred species of birds have been identified on the refuge; ninety-six of these species have been reported as nesting on or near the refuge. Two southern species, the Swainson’s Warbler and Wayne’s Warbler (a race of the Black-throated Green Warbler), are more common in the Great Dismal Swamp than in other coastal locations. Other birds of interest are the Wood Duck, Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, and Prothonotary Warbler. Winter brings massive movements of blackbirds and American Robins into the swamp.
Birding is best during spring migration from April to June when the greatest diversity of species (particularly warblers) occurs. Although any species may turn up almost anywhere on the refuge, favorite birding locations are the Washington Ditch and Jericho Ditch trails.