Birds in Bryan Park

Bryan Park is a premiere haven for birds in an urban environment. Bird song increases in the spring and if you are observant, you will hear Northern Mockingbirds copying other bird songs. Stand still and watch the Mockingbird sing several songs. One can learn a lot! The male Mocker is “defending territory” by repeating all those songs.

In April each year, one can hear the Robins singing their territorial song. If you live near the park, it would not be unusual for the Robins to wake you from a sound sleep sometime in April during dawn.

Some of the most common birds include Cardinals, Blue Jays, Carolina Wrens, Eastern Towhees and Gray Cat- birds, just to name a few. Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers and Canada Geese can be seen at the lakes, and Bald Eagles and Ospreys occasionally show up. On rare occasions, species like the Common Loon have been seen in the Park.

One young autistic man considers “Spring is here!” when he spies the Solitary or Spotted Sandpiper along the upper dam. Both sandpipers have long slender bills they use to probe the soft mud. Both species are here for a few days before migrating northward. While shorebirds are migrating north, the owls and woodpecker families have settled into the nesting routine at Bryan Park. Great Horned Owls are now feeding young while Pileated Woodpeckers are incubating eggs. Other woodpeckers include Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied and Northern Flicker. Most nest in a cavity within a tree. Hence the name “Cavity Nesters.”

Speaking of cavity nesters, there are a number of bluebird boxes in the vicinity of the Soccer fields, providing shelter for the Eastern Bluebirds to raise their young. Bryan Park has one of the highest rates of successful nests due to the “Bluebird Helpers” of Henrico and Richmond. These folks periodically check the boxes and when nesting is finished, remove the old nests and clean out the boxes. They quietly attend to the boxes usually when there are few visitors around so not to disturb the young blue birds.

In 2011, the Friends of Bryan Park purchased the first Purple Martin colony house and Jimmy Fitzpatrick, Purple Martin landlord, suggested the location near the lower pond. Jimmy, Wyn Price, Sue Ridd and Adolph White erected the first colony house. Later, Adolph added two more houses, and began the careful observations of the Purple Martins, Progne subis, the large, socially-oriented swallows. This species like living in aerial apartments, eating insects that swarm around ponds, and making the 7,000-mile migration trip each year to South America.

If you want to learn more about the birds of Bryan Park, go to Shelter 1 on the First Sunday of the month before sunrise. The Richmond Audubon Society sponsors monthly birding trips from Shelter 1 about ½ hour after sun- rise. For more information, see https://www.richmondaudubon.org

For more information on birds in Bryan Park, see https://dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/wildlife-information/ Be- cause of the diverse fauna in the park, dogs are required to be on leash at all times. More importantly, dogs on leash protect their owners from other dogs that are off leash. If you see a dog off leash, call the Richmond police at the non-emergency number and report what you have seen.