Signal Hill Park Needs More Birders

Ebird records show little birding activity at Signal Hill Park in Prince William County, Virginia. In fact, for all eBird record years, Signal Hill had only 43 bird species reported and only 11 checklists submitted. I thought I understood why during my first two visits about a year ago. The park seemed to be small and not have many birds. I had no plans to return, however, I was in the area recently. I had some free time, so I headed over to Signal Hill Park to check for breeding birds.

Signal Hill Park ended up impressing me. The construction that was happening during my first two visits was over, leading me discover that the park was much larger than I thought. Behind the construction area in the upper lot was a lot more park to bird.  

I ended up birding for about two hours and was pleased with my observations. I ended up adding 12 new bird species to eBird for this spot. There are now 55 species reported. 

For 2016, including my visit, only four lists were submitted to eBird for Signal Hill Park. Besides my one list, there was one other birder who submitted three lists: two in February and one in March. There were no visits reported to eBird between March 19 and my visit on August 4. Clearly, Signal Hill Park is under-birded. I bet we could increase the species list for this spot significantly with more birders visiting in the future.

Breeding Birds: 

I was surprised by number of male breeding birds singing in the middle of the day whereas other parks are largely silent this late in the breeding season except at dawn and dusk. 

I found a pair of Blue Grosbeaks that were quite agitated and were showing signs of territorial defense chasing a Gray Catbird out of a certain tree. I think they may have a nest in this tree. 

Other breeding bird observations: 

An American Robin pair that I observed foraging on the ground and carrying food off to somewhere in the trees. 

A fledgling Eastern Kingbird with a short-tail calling from the top of a tree. 

A male Eastern Blue Bird singing vigorously from a spot in a tree above a nest hole. I looked for a female and was unsuccessful. At this point, a Cooper’s Hawk was hunting and all the birds were hunkered down.

I moved on into the woods trail and found singing Eastern Pewees, a fledgling Downy Woodpecker, and many other birds along the trail. Meanwhile, a Wood Thrush sang deep in the woods. 

The mosquitos were present here although there were not as many as other parks in Northern Virginia in summer. 

Overall, the park is well maintained with hardly any trash compared to other parks. Unfortunately, the understory of the woods appears to be overgrazed by deer, and there is a problem with invasive species like Japanese Stilt Grass. The main attraction at this park is a water park. There are also sports fields. However, you can get away from these areas on the woods trail. 

I hope I have got some of you interested in birding at Signal Hill Park, especially if you are participating in the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas! 

Signal Hill Park, 9300 Signal View Drive Manassa Park, VA 20111 

Tips: 

Plenty of free parking in numerous parking lots. 

Easy trails through the woods. 

Close by are plenty of options for eating such as Panera, Chik-fil-A, etc.

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