Cover photo: Bobby Hooker, Hooker Studio
Each year residents of Town of Colonial Beach, VA, eagerly anticipate the return of the ospreys, distinctively large, brown and white hawks that make their homes near bodies of water to feed their piscivorous (fish) appetites. For the third consecutive year, the non-profit Downtown Colonial Beach is documenting the ospreys’ annual visit by hosting the Colonial Beach Osprey Festival of the Potomac/Chesapeake Bay Watershed, sponsored by Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
As part of Virginia Tourism Corporation‘s WanderLove campaign, we also invite bird lovers to bring your binoculars and join the festival with a road trip to Colonial Beach, Virginia, where you can safely observe the ospreys during a walk through Town; from your car; or via rented kayak, canoe, paddleboard or golf cart. (CBVA is a golf cart community!)
Though sad to see the bald eagles depart their fall and winter abodes, the first osprey sightings of the season bring excitement to bird lovers, who follow and document the elite raptors as they build their nests, nurture their eggs, and hatch their offspring. Many birdwatchers name the feathered pairs that return to the same nests year after year–atop tall lampposts and utility poles, in dead trees, or on man-made structures built for them. Sometimes, ospreys even build nests on the roofs of boat cabins, unfortunate for the boat owners as the Town is a bird sanctuary, meaning the nests cannot be disturbed.
The Colonial Beach Osprey Festival was launched in 2019 with classes, walks, live concerts, aviary artwork and more to celebrate our feathered friends. Due to COVID concerns, this year and last year’s festivals were made virtual. Bird lovers can still participate by visiting the festival’s website here. On the site are osprey cams, birding videos and photos, osprey art, blog posts, birding links and more.
Colonial Beach, Virginia, is home to an abundance of bird wildlife, in addition to ospreys and eagles. Being located on a peninsula, CBVA is home to a variety of waterfowl, including herons, swans, hawks, ducks, gulls and more.
Photos: Michael Hundley
There’s no shortage of land birds, either! Backyard birds such as cardinals, cedar waxings, blue birds and mourning doves pose happily for birding photographers.
Photos: Bronwen Decker
The many nature areas in the surrounding Northern Neck provide even more opportunities for bird lovers to catch a glimpse of their favorite feathered wildlife (like wild turkeys, egrets, and owls!) Visit George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Westmoreland State Park, Caledon State Park and Voorhees Nature Preserve, to name a few.
Photos: Mary Carter