The Smith Mountain area contains a number of unique ecosystems, from mountain pine forests to oak bottoms, lake shorelines and wetlands. Because of that, a wide variety of bird species can find their favored habitats here. For example, Great Blue Herons will be found near the lake shore, woodpeckers and vultures are frequently seen on top of the mountain, and many species of songbirds will be found in the mountain laurel and rhododendron thickets.
Black vultures and turkey vultures, like the one pictured flying here, are frequently seen spiraling around Smith Mountain, taking advantage of rising thermal currents to gain altitude. Once sufficient elevation is attained, they can soar for long periods without flapping their wings as they search by sight and smell for carrion. Despite their unsavory diet, vultures are remarkably resistant to the bacterial diseases that afflict most other animals.
Juvenile Bald Eagle
Great Horned Owl
Great Blue Heron