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Birds

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Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge provides a variety of habitat for over 250 species of birds.  For a complete list, download our Refuge Bird List.  Below, we have highlighted some of our more sought-after and/or most commonly seen species.

  • Acadian Flycatcher

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    These small flycatchers are fairly common summer residents of the moist wooded areas of the Refuge. They breed, raise their family and feed under the shady tree canopy, where they are more easily heard calling than seen.

  • Mississippi Kite

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    These beautiful raptors prefer the river-bottom forests of the Roanoke, where they nest high in trees. They feed on the wing, often in flocks over fields, hunting for insects. 

  • Cerulean Warbler

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    This beautiful, declining neo-tropical migrant primarily nests in the mountain region of our state, however, there is a population that breeds in mature, hardwood forests along the Roanoke River. Like all wood-warblers, Ceruleans feed primarily on insects.

  • Prothonotary Warbler

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    These strikingly golden-yellow birds are neo-tropical migrants. They live most of the year in Central or South America, migrating to North American during our summer to breed. Prothonotary Warblers prefers wet habitats and nest in tree cavities. They can often be seen down low, next to the water.

  • Red-shouldered Hawk

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    This fairly common permanent resident, smaller than the Red-tailed Hawk, is at home in the moist, mixed forests of the Roanoke River Natonal Wildlife Refuge, where it nests high in trees. Red-shouldered Hawks feed on rodents, as well as frogs, snakes and occasionally birds.

  • Barred Owl

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    This owl of mature moist forests is at home along the Roanoke River. Smaller than a Great Horned Owl, this is still a large bird with a big appetite, feeding on small mammals, snakes, frogs, crayfish, insects and even other birds. Barred Owls nest in large tree cavities in abandoned nests of other large birds. This is the “who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all” owl, that can be heard at night or during the daytime in deep, swampy forests.

  • Wood Duck

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    These beautiful woodland ducks nest on the Refuge in tree cavities. A permanent resident, they can be found in and around the wetter areas of the Refuge, where they are often only seen as they fly away in alarm. Vegetable matter makes up the majority of their diet, although they do eat insects, as well.

  • Northern Parula

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    The Northern Parula is a neo-tropical migrant – they live in the tropics but come here to nest in the summer. This smallest of warblers prefers mature forests with Spanish moss in which to nest. “Parulas” arrive in early April and their buzzy songs can be heard higher in the trees for a couple of months, especially early in the morning. Northern Parulas are colorful, with blue and green on their backs, a yellow throat, white wing-bars and a rufous neck band on adult birds.

  • Tufted Titmouse

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    This common back-yard bird across much of the Eastern United States is also common on the Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge – but without the bird-feeders! Basically a gray bird with a crest, the Tufted Titmouse nests in tree cavities or splits. It feeds on insects, fruits and seeds. Bird watchers often try to locate “titmice” and their relatives, the chickadees, because these birds often lead flocks of mixed species during fall migration and in winter.

  • Pileated Woodpecker

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    This large, handsome, crested woodpecker is at home in mature forests across over half of this country, especially in the East. Their loud call can be heard for a long distance, as can their loud drumming. Pileated Woodpeckers build nests in dead trees, where they excavate an oval shaped hole. 

Page Photo Credits — Barred Owl (top)  by FWS.  Other birds by Jeff Lewis
Last Updated: Nov 29, 2014
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