Birds of the Marsh

Many species of birds utilize the marsh and adjacent thickets to nest and find food.  Although often difficult to see, their calls are an unmistakeable part of the marsh environment.

Migrating Birds Homecoming

Monday, February 20, 2017 at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.

In just a few weeks, many birds will begin their preparations for springtime. Help make their move easier by creating a nesting box and nets filled with bright and colorful nesting materials. Check out a pair of binoculars from the Discovery Room to use in the Marsh Walk, where you may see the first signs of our feathered friends as they return to the Chesapeake. FREE with museum admission. The Museum Store will be stocking plush Audubon birds with real bird calls, along with plenty of bird identification books for children and adults.
Red-Winged Blackbird
Red-Winged Blackbird
Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Only the mature male possesses red shoulder ornaments from which this bird derives its name. The drab female is streaked and brown. Red-wings hunt insects flushed from the marsh by rising tides. After breeding season, these blackbirds may congregate in large flocks.
Size: 7 to 9.5 in. (18 to 24 cm)
Common Grackle
Common Grackle
Scientific Name: Quiscalus quiscula
The salt marsh spreads an ample table for the grackle, whose omnivorous tastes run from grasshoppers to bayberries, and from nestling birds to crabs and little fish nabbed in the shallows. Especially strong jaw muscles make the grackle’s beak an efficient tool for gathering and crushing its varied fare.
Size: 10 to 12 ½” (25 – 32 cm)
Sharp Tailed Sparrow
Sharp-Tailed Sparrow
Scientific Name: Ammodramus caudacutus
This secretive sparrow is seldom seen in flight, preferring to scurry about the high marsh, hunting little crustaceans and insects that it relishes. Even its nest is built on the ground, hidden among coarse grasses beyond reach of the tides.
Size: 5 in. (13 cm)
Marsh Wren
Marsh Wren
Scientific Name: Cistothorus palustris
This small, singing bird clings to stalks of tall grasses and cattails, its tail poking straight up. The courting male builds several crude nests which are used, if at all, only for roosts. Later, the wren pair cooperates in construction of a proper nest—a ball woven of cordgrass leaves, lined by the female with shreds of vegetation, feathers, or other soft materials.
Size: 4 to 5.5 in. (10 to 14 cm)