Animal Research

Western Virginia offers superb birding

If you want ornithological culture shock, spend a day birding on the Coastal Plain, enjoying classic southern specialties like chuck-will's-widow, red-cockaded woodpecker and brown-headed nuthatch in the open, sandy pine forests, and then drive three-plus hours west to the mountains along the West Virginia border.

This week it was in the low 40s as we stepped out of our van into the Blue Grass Valley in gorgeous Highland County. Within minutes we were enjoying the sight of a male golden-winged warbler as it sang between forays into a flowering shrub for tiny caterpillars. Female warblers have not yet migrated back to these chilly mountains, letting the males have a week to sort...

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