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Byrd Park

Description

William Byrd Park consists of 287 acres sandwiched between the Downtown Expressway and the James River in Richmond’s Near West End. Its urban location belies the richness of wildlife found here. The park offers something for just about everyone so it can be very busy, especially on weekends and holidays.

The Vitacourse exercise trail winds through a semi-open area on the western side of the park and is a good place to watch eastern bluebirds and eastern phoebes hawking for insects. South of the Dogwood Dell Amphitheater is a forested area that woodpeckers, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, and more call home year-round. Warblers stop in during migration on their way northward. The familiar songs of red-eyed vireos, eastern wood-pewees, and acadian flycatchers are heard throughout the summer.

Fountain, Swan, and Shields lakes are prime wintering spots for waterfowl. Nearly every species that overwinters in Virginia is common here, particularly at Swan Lake. Ruddy and ring-necked ducks dominate but patient scanning through the large rafts usually reveals scaups, American wigeons, gadwalls, redheads, grebes, mergansers, and teals. Keen-eyed birders occasionally find cackling geese, too. A mixed flock of mallards, Canada, and feral domestic geese live here year-round. 

Cackling geese are smaller overall with shorter bills than the familiar Canada goose.

Cackling geese are uncommon visitors to Byrd Park. They are smaller overall with shorter bills than the closely-related Canada goose (facing right). Photo Credit: Lisa Mease/DWR

Maymont is just south of Shields Lake and though it’s not technically part of Byrd Park, it is well worth a visit. There are over 5 miles of trails, farm and captive wild animals, a nature center, mansion, and historic themed gardens. The gardens are ideal for insect viewing, especially Marie’s Butterfly Garden.

Notes:

  • Some of the waterfowl may approach visitors in search of food. They are not aggressive and will disperse if ignored. Under no circumstances should any visitors feed the ducks and geese! These activities are unhealthy for both birds and people, leading to increased spread of disease, poor water quality, and improper bone development which results in malformed wings and an inability to fly. Click to read DWR’s Feeding Wildlife: Food for Thought booklet to learn more.

Directions

Physical Address: 600 South Arthur Ashe Boulevard, Richmond, VA 23220

Shields Lake Parking Area: 2201 Shields Lake Dr., Richmond, VA 23220, 37.538034, -77.474605

From I-95 in downtown Richmond, exit onto VA-195/Downtown Expressway, take the S. Meadow Street exit and turn left onto S. Meadow Street, turn right onto Amelia Street, turn left onto Shields Lake Drive, and parking is available in the gravel area on the right side of the road or a paved lot on the left.

 

Location & Directions

View on Google Maps

Site Information

  • Site Contact: City of Richmond: 804-646-5733, AskParkRec@richmondgov.com
  • Website
  • Access: Free, Daily

Birds Recently Seen at Byrd Park (as reported to eBird)

  • Ruddy Duck
  • Canada Goose
  • Mourning Dove
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Blue Jay
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • American Robin
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Palm Warbler

Seasonal Bird Observations

Facilities

  • Bike Trails
  • Accessible
  • Hiking Trails
  • Parking
  • Picnic
  • Restrooms
  • Historical Site