Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival


Welcome to the Great Dismal Swamp 2023 Spring Birding Festival page. All walks, tours and presentations are free, although space is limited. If you sign up but are no longer able to attend, please cancel your registration as soon as possible so that others may join. If a walk/tour/presentation is full, please continue to check back as additional spots may open. Registration will close April 27th by 4 pm.

Registration: Opens March 1


Here's how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see Bird Festival Registration on
2) Review the options listed and choose the activities you would like.
3) Sign up! It's easy - you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on


Schedule of Events - Friday, April 28

Guided Bird Walk - 6:00 AM 

(Approximately 3 hours; Registration required)
Location: Nansemond National Wildlife Refuge

*Restricted access, area only open for registered festival participants


Schedule of Events - Saturday, April 29

Guided Bird Walk - 7:00 AM 

(Approximately 3 hours; Registration required)

- Jericho Lane Trailhead (1330 White Marsh Rd, Suffolk, VA)
- Washington Ditch Trailhead (3076 White Marsh Rd, Suffolk, VA)
- Dismal Swamp Canal Trail (1246 Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, Chesapeake, VA)
- Birding by Bus (open air) (Departs from HQ, 3100 Desert Rd, Suffolk, VA

Beginner Bird Walk - 10:00 AM

(Approximately 2 hours; Registration required)
Location: Meeting at Refuge Headquarters then departing to location nearby. Transportation not included. 

Dismal Swamp State Park Bird Walk - 10:00 AM

(Approximately 1.5 hours; Registration Required)
Location: Dismal Swamp State Park (2294 U.S. 17N., South Mills, NC)

Exhibitor Tables and Family Activities - 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Stop by our Refuge Headquarters for some fun! We will have tables and tents with family activities, exhibitors, and a self-guided nature walk around our Pines Trail, there is something for all ages.
No registration required. Open to all visitors
Location: Refuge Headquarters (3100 Desert Rd., Suffolk, VA)

Guest Talks - 11:30 AM and 12:30 PM

Looking to learn more about bring birds to your yard or about Virginia’s Butcher bird? Join us for two guest speakers from the Virginia Native Plant Society and the VA Department of Wildlife Resources!
(Registration requiredOpen to all ages
Location: Refuge Headquarters Conference Room (3100 Desert Rd, Suffolk, VA)

 - 11:30 AM: Native Plants, Insects, and Birds

Native plants offer the best opportunities to bring birds to your yard, not just to stop  by but to stay! Gardening with natives provides the healthiest and the highest quality resources for birds. This encourages birds to live in your yard not just to visit occasionally.

 - 12:30 PM: The Butcher Bird: Conservation of the Loggerhead Shrike in Virginia

Sergio Harding, Nongame Bird Conservation Biologist, for the Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) will introduce us to the Loggerhead Shrike, a charismatic and imperiled bird, affectionately known as “the Butcher Bird.” He will give us an overview of the status and natural history of Loggerhead Shrike with a focus on Virginia and discuss what DWR and partners are doing to help reverse shrike declines in Virginia and beyond.

Guided Nature Walks - 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM

Looking to learn more about the natural and cultural history of the Great Dismal Swamp? Join us for a guided nature walk!
(Approximately 2 hours; Registration required)
Location: Washington Ditch Trailhead (30176 White Marsh Rd, Suffolk, VA)


Wildlife Drive Bus Tours - 10:00 AM and 12:30 PM

Take a ride on our open-air tram! Join us for a tour of Lake Drummond Wildlife Drive and learn about the unique cultural, historical, and natural history of the Great Dismal Swamp!
(Approximately 1.5 hours; Registration required)
Location: Board the tram at Refuge HQ parking lot (3100 Desert Rd., Suffolk, VA) 


Event date and time