Online Guide to the Species of Virginia Beach
This page represents a starting point for viewers to begin their journey through the identification process of the many species of birds that can be encountered in Virginia Beach. The Orders and Families described on this page below have been laid out according to the current version of the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) Checklist. The current version, published July 1, 2015 represents the 56th Supplement to the original AOU Checklist, but is also referred to as the 15th Supplement to the 7th Edition of the AOU Checklist (The 7th edition was published in 1998, and all subsequent supplements can be found Here). The AOU is regarded as the official source on taxonomy & classification of birds in North & Middle America. Other checklists of birds do exist, like those produced by the American Birding Association (ABA), or the official Virginia state list maintained by the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO). However, the ordering of birds and the naming convention used on these lists is derived directly from the current edition of the AOU Checklist. Therefore, it makes sense to go straight to the AOU for all information regarding the classification of birds listed on this & the following pages, while using the current ABA & VSO checklists as secondary checks for compliance. As technology & the study of birds continues to progress, these checklists will remain in a state of ongoing change.
The source of information is probably not why you are here though. The purpose of this page is to assist viewers in being able to identify the birds they have encountered while out enjoying nature. With that goal in mind, each family listed below has 3 photographs highlighting a representive range of its species. When attempting to identify the species you have seen or photographed, the first step is figuring out which family that species is a part of. First, try browsing down this page, and look for the family of birds that looks most similar to yours on a superficial level. The photos shown might not match exactly the patterns or colors of your bird, but the attributes of the bird (bill, head, legs, body, etc) look similar enough that you feel your bird is a part of this family. Select the text or photos under the suspected family, and you will be taken to a new page displaying all the species of this family that are found in Coastal Virginia. In the event that you can't find your bird within the chosen family, just hit the 'back' button, and try a different family, some are easier than others, but, that's what makes bird identification so interesting. Hopefully, this layout will be conducive to navigating the roughly 385 species of birds that have been recorded in Virginia Beach!