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Predatory birds include a number of hawks, owls, and the golden and bald eagles.
There are numerous songbirds, including the cardinal, the state bird.
At the time of European settlement of the Great Valley of Virginia in the early 18th century, large herds of native bison were prevalent along the banks of the Shenandoah River, but, as elsewhere, the populations were destroyed as settlers moved westward.
The state’s climate, generally mild and equable, varies according to elevation and proximity to Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
In southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, January temperatures average about 40 °F (4 °C); July temperatures average in the upper 70s F (about 26 °C).
These temperatures allow growing seasons of up to eight months, three months longer than those in far western Virginia.
Elsewhere in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions, continental weather overcomes the eastern marine influence to produce colder winters.
constitute a substantial minority—about one-fifth of the population—serving as a reminder of the important role that African slaves and their descendants played in the early development of the state.