Your Complete Birding Guide to Williamsburg VA

July 28, 2020

Birding is one of the most peaceful hobbies that you can do anywhere and anytime. Here in Williamsburg, we are lucky to have a wide variety of birds call our forests home. From waterfowl to songbirds, you’ll notice avian life all over town. But if you want to stretch your legs and spot some rare species in beautiful settings then we have the spots for you. 

Popular Birding Hotspots


Basset Trace Nature Trail

You don’t have to travel far to find yourself immersed in thick forest groves. The Basset Trace Nature Trail is right off of downtown and starts behind historic Basset Hall. A 3.3-mile out and back trail leads you by streams and lakes where wrens and waterfowl are known to frequent. In the forested areas, woodland birds can be found around every corner. Keep an eye out for thrushes as they like to blend in perfectly to their surroundings. 


Greensprings Interpretive Trail

The Greensprings Interpretive Trail near Jamestown is a great spot for all sorts of wildlife viewing. Beavers, box turtles, squirrels, and deer are just a glimpse of the blooming life in this rural trail system. On top of that, this is one of the best woodland birding destinations in all of Virginia. Listen for songbirds and keep an eye out for ospreys that live in the area. A large wetland in the heart of the park is home to egrets, wrens, and dozens of other species. 


York River State Park

For marshland birdwatching, York River State Park is unbeatable. This estuary offers the perfect habitat for migrating birds in the spring and fall as it boasts both freshwater and saltwater habitats. You can expect to see almost every type of bird expect for shorebirds at some point in the park. Walk along the trails that lead you to the shores of the York River, read the educational signs about this unique habitat, and soak up some sun on the pier. 


College Woods & Lake Matoaka Trails

Tucked away behind The College of William & Mary lies a network of trails that very few people know about. Over 10 miles of trails wind through mature oak and beech forests and around the shores of Lake Matoaka offering users a quiet and secluded hike. No matter the season, all sorts of waterfowl can easily be spotted nesting on the shores of the lake or flying above. 

Birding By Season

Spring & Fall

The spring and autumn months in Williamsburg offer a great opportunity to witness the migrations of hundreds of species. Spring can be met with a wide range of conditions from rainy to sunny or even the occasional snow, but the diversity of species during this time is unparalleled. During the fall, you can enjoy the annual foliage change which makes it easier to spot the usually camouflaged woodland species. 


Summer is when Williamsburg really comes alive. The old-growth trees are filled with leaves, wildflowers start popping up out of the ground, and birding is more enjoyable than ever. Hike, bike, kayak, or canoe around Williamsburg and you’ll be guaranteed to spot some of the region’s aviary residents. Some of the more noticeable summertime species include the Blue Grosbeak and the Indigo Bunting. 


You may not expect it, but Williamsburg is a great place to go birding during the winter months. Bundle up with a scarf, grab a cup of cocoa, and head to one of the natural areas to enjoy some peace and quiet while witnessing some of our year-round residents. Shorebirds, ducks, woodland species, and finches are just a small sampling of what you can find in the woods around town.  

Whether you are a beginner birder or an all-out expert, you can have a great time in Williamsburg during any time of the year. Visit during each season to watch as the forest changes and opens up new habitats for all types of species. 


Ready to go Birding in Williamsburg? Book a stay at the Cedars of Williamsburg, a relaxed Bed & Breakfast housed in a Gregorian-style mansion in the heart of Williamsburg, VA. 

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