Shenandoah Valley, VA 2/4/15

All photos are Marshall Faintich

With reports during the past couple of weeks of a possible sighting of a Snowy Owl near Mt. Crawford, Virginia, and Short-eared Owls and Rough-legged Hawks just north of Harrisonburg, Walt Childs and I took advantage of the sunny skies and warmer temperatures, and headed west over the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley this morning to look for them. We exited I-81 at Mt. Crawford, drove west to Route 42, and then north a little way past Broadway, Virginia. Along the way there and back, we drove on smaller country roads looking for these species. We saw a couple of Red-tailed Hawks before we exited from I-81, and an unidentifed Accipiter species hawk soon after getting onto Route 42.

We stopped on one of the country roads when both of us saw a bird that might have been a Snowy Owl based on the white shape we saw, but it turned out to be a Red-tailed Hawk that was puffed up to keep warm.


Red-tailed Hawk

We stopped on our way north to view more Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and a Red-shouldered Hawk.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel eating a snack


American Kestrel eating a snack


American Kestrel eating a snack


Red-shouldered Hawk

We then headed south on Route 42 to Silver Lake in Dayton, Virginia, and saw more hawks and kestrels along the way. One of the Red-tailed Hawks had just caught a field mouse(?), but apparently dropped it and then took off again.


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


Red-tailed Hawk


American Kestrel


Red-shouldered Hawk

There had been reports of a Trumpeter Swan and a juvenile Tundra Swan, along with the pair of resident Mute Swans at Silver Lake, and they were still there along with lots of ducks: Canvasback, Red-headed, Mallard, Gadwall, and Bufflehead; and some American Coots.


Three swan species (left to right): Mute; Tundra; Trumpeter


Mute and Trumpeter Swans


Trumpeter Swan


Trumpeter Swan


Tundra Swan


Tundra Swan

Our last stop was at Smith Lake in Swoope, where we saw a pair of Bald Eagles, Canada Geese, Mallards, Green-winged Teals, and a few woodland bird species. I wasn't able to get any good photos of the eagles on this visit.


Bald Eagle


Green-winged Teal



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