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Parks and Recreation
Prince William County Wildlife - Birds

Prince William County is home to countless of these wonderous creatures of the air.

Permanent Resident - does not migrate out of the area
Winter Resident - migrates from the northern regions during winter
Summer Resident - migrates from southern regions during summer 
Transient or Migrant - not native to region
Irregular Visitor - bird has been spotted occasionally, though it is rare

Tips on Birds from the PW Conservation Alliance  


Loon Aquatic birds with a haunting, yodeling call, loons are seldom found on land. They glide across the waters surface, then abruptly plunge into the water to catch fish with spear-shaped bills.
  • Common Loon (Winter Resident)
Grebes Sometimes mistaken for ducks, grebes have lobed not webbed feet. They are expert divers that catch fish and other aquatic animals. Grebes can sink slowly into the water, sometimes leaving only their head and neck above like a periscope.
  • Pied-billed Grebe (Winter Resident)
  • Horned Grebe (Transient or Migrant)
Comorants A family of fisheaters that lives along the shorelines of freshwater and saltwater worldwide. Lacking the water repellant oils of other water birds, Cormorants spend considerable time drying their wings.
  • Double-crested Cormorant (Summer Resident)
Bitterns, Egrets and Herons Found on all continents except Antartica, these birds prefer wetlands, damp meadow and forest stream habitats. Bitterns, egrets and herons are carnivorous. Most feed in shallow water, where they wade in search of prey to capture with their long, sharp bills.
  • American Bittern (Summer Resident)
  • Least Bittern (Summer Resident)
  • Great Blue Heron (Permanent Resident)
  • Great Egret (Summer Resident)
  • Snowy Egret (Transient or Migrant)
  • Little Blue Heron (Transient or Migrant)
  • Cattle Egret (Transient or Migrant)
  • Green Heron (Summer Resident)
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron (Summer Resident)
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Summer Resident)
Ibises These long-legged birds live in wetlands or wooded areas near water where temperatures are warm. In flight, they hold their necks and legs extend straight out. Sociable birds, Ibises usually roost, breed and feed in large groups.
  • Glossy Ibis (Transient or Migrant)
American Vultures Large birds with naked heads and hooked bills, they feed almost exclusively on carrion. When captured or frightened, American Vultures vomit the contents of their stomach. They do not build a nest, eggs are placed in a hollow tree or log, crevice in rocks or on the ground.
  • Turkey Vulture (Permanent Resident)
  • Black Vulture (Permanent Resident)
Geese, Swans, Ducks


Birds in this family are found from the Arctic Circle to the equatorial rainforests, where they live in lakes, ocean, bays, marshes and ponds. They have long, sometimes very long, necks, short strong legs and webbing between three toes. Humans have long used members of this family for food.
  • Snow Goose (Transient or Migrant)
  • Canada Goose (Permanent Resident)
  • Mute Swan (Permanent Resident)
  • Tundra Swan (Winter Resident)
  • Wood Duck (Permanent Resident)
  • Gadwall (Winter Resident)
  • American Wigeon (Winter Resident)
  • American Black Duck (Winter Resident)
  • Mallard (Permanent Resident)
  • Blue-winged Teal (Winter Resident)
  • Northern Shoveler (Winter Resident)
  • Northern Pintail (Winter Resident)
  • Green-winged Teal (Winter Resident)
  • Canvasback (Winter Resident)
  • Redhead (Winter Resident)
  • Ring-necked Duck (Winter Resident)
  • Greater Scaup (Winter Resident)
  • Lesser Scaup (Winter Resident)
  • Long-tailed Duck (Transient or Migrant)
  • Bufflehead (Winter Resident)
  • Common Goldeneye (Transient or Migrant)
  • Hooded Merganser (Winter Resident)
  • Common Merganser (Winter Resident)
  • Red-breasted Merganser (Winter Resident)
  • Ruddy Duck (Winter Resident)

Eagles, Hawks Found on all continents except Antarctica and in every kind of land habitat - from tundra to deserts, wetlands, mountains, and cities. All are carnivorous and eat only freshly caught prey. Hawks with short wings and long tails are good at flying through the woods. Those that soar to great heights have long, broad wings and broad tails.
  • Osprey (Summer Resident)
  • Mississippi Kite (Irregular Visitor)
  • Bald Eagle (Permanent Resident)
  • Northern Harrier (Winter Resident)
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk (Winter Resident)
  • Cooper’s Hawk (Winter Resident)
  • Northern Goshawk (Transient or Migrant)
  • Red-shouldered Hawk (Permanent Resident)
  • Broad-winged Hawk (Transient or Migrant)
  • Red-tailed Hawk (Permanent Resident)
  • Rough-legged Hawk (Irregular Visitor)
  • Golden Eagle (Irregular Visitor)
Falcons Powerful predators, falcons have keen eyesight that can spot a mouse a mile away. They have long, pointed wings and long tails. Falcons are built for speed not soaring, they can reach speeds up to 200 mpg when diving.
  • American Kestrel (Permanent Resident)
  • Merlin (Transient or Migrant)
  • Peregrine Falcon (Transient or Migrant)

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