Birding Adventure in the High Country

12 kids went on a gravity-defying adventure in the high country participating in BRDC’s inaugural Ornithology Camp in honor of William Roberts.  For four days and three nights, the kids camped out and honed their ornithology skills, searching for bird species that inhabit the diverse Appalachian ecosystems of southwest Virginia.  

Each morning the campers woke bright and early before leaving base camp to search for birds. They explored the region's prime birding spots including Cox's Chapel Low Water Bridge, Rural Retreat Lake, New River State Park, Fairwood Valley, Elk Garden, and Whitetop Mountain. They found a wide range of birds and logged a total of 80 species by the end of camp! When they weren’t actively searching for birds, the campers learned valuable birding and naturalist skills from guides Allen Boynton, Scott Jackson-Ricketts, Ashley Peele, Joyce Roberts and Aaron Floyd. They learned how to keep a naturlist's journal, how to use a guidebook and how to be good stewards to birds and other fauna and flora that are part of the Blue Ridge. 

Everyone enjoyed many other activities, like searching for crayfish in the creek, playing stickball, and telling stories around the campfire after a long day of birding.

At the conclusion of camp, the campers gathered together in a circle and discussed what they had enjoyed most. The highlights included seeing bald eagles and their nest, observing an oriole pair, hearing a hermit thrush and making lots of new friends. On the drive back from camp, the campers excitedly talked about coming back next year! 

Ornithology Camp Bird List:

Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Canada Goose
Bald Eagle
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Turkey Vulture
Black Vulture
Spotted Sandpiper
Mourning Dove
Swifts and Hummingbirds:
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red -bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
Acadian Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Great-crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Blue-headed  Vireo
Jays, Crows, Ravens:
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Chimney Swift
Chickadees, Nuthatches:
Carolina Chickadee
House Wren
Carolina Wren
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Tufted Titmouse
American Robin
Brown Thrasher
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
Cedar Waxwing
Eastern Blue Bird
Louisiana Waterthrush
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Northern Parula
American Redstart
Yellow Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Black-throated Blue
Black-throated Green
Canada Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Indigo Bunting
Northern Cardinal
Sparrows and Juncos:
Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Eastern Meadowlark
Blackbirds, Orioles:
Red Winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Common Grackle
European Starling
American Goldfinch
80 Species!