We frequently use the phrase “dead of winter.” This season is far from dead along coastal Virginia. The rivers, creeks, marshes, and bays are teeming with a variety of birds that are only here briefly during these cold months. Federal and state refuges and management areas help make it possible for migratory waterfowl to return year after year. Because many of our coastal state parks are located near these preserves, our visitors can see some of these spectacular birds every winter.
The male Snow Goose. Like scooters,geese are commonly found in and near the broad waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
There are also great migratory birding opportunities along the broad brackish and saltwater rivers as well. Among the most beautiful of these birds is the Red Breasted Merganser. They are similar to Mallards in color. But their beaksare not as broad and are designed for catching fish.
Canvasbacks are considered the best tasting ducks and are a favorite of area hunters. Regulations and good hunting practices have allowed this species to rebound from its low population numbers twenty years ago.
These birds will not be with us for long. By mid-March, many of them will be heading back north.Grab your binoculars, camera, and spotting scope and enjoy the lively show of migratory birds in the “dead” of winter.