Canaan Valley Birding Festival – June 1-4, 2017

The West Virginia mountains in June are the perfect place for bird lovers and Nature lovers.  The  diverse high elevation boreal habitats, grasslands and boggy wetlands in and around Canaan Valley, WV, are the breeding ground for a wide variety of neo-tropical and other birds.   The Festival features all-day and half-day field trips as well as evening keynote speakers (I will speak on Saturday) and evening sounds walks.

Jan and I will be leading the following field trips:

Left – Deciduous woodland… Center – Kentucky Warbler… Right – Louisiana Waterthrush building nest  All photos (c) Bill Beatty

Friday: 6:00am–3:30pm… Stuart Memorial
Participants will carpool. Driving time to Stuart Memorial is approximately 45 minutes each way. This is a West Virginia high elevation specialties trip. Traditionally one of the most popular trips of the festival, it’s a wonderful 10-mile drive through mixed hardwood and Red Spruce forests with elevations ranging between 2,500 – 4,000 feet. Typically, 15-18 species of warbler are seen/heard which includes the possibility of Golden-winged Warbler and Mourning Warbler. Species which we should also see/hear at the highest elevations include Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Other species include Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Purple Finch. We will lunch near/on the observation deck at Bickle Knob which offers a stunning 360 degree panorama of the West Virginia mountains.
Leaders: Bill Beatty and Jan Runyan (Difficulty: 2-3)

Left – Beaver dam at Olsen Bog and Right – Ovenbird feeding young  Both photos (c) Bill Beatty

Saturday: 5:45am-3:30pm… Olsen Fire Tower + Big Run Bog then Fernow Forest (above photos) Participants will carpool.  Driving miles: 80 miles Round Trip.  Our first stop will be at the Olsen Fire Tower area where we usually find numerous Canada Warblers singing on territory.  The Olsen/Big Run area is home to many nesting warbler, thrush and vireo species as well as many other kinds of birds. The area where Big Run Bog empties into Big Run is often home to nesting Northern Waterthrushes.  Just before arriving at Fernow Experimental Forest we will be in an area which often has Blue-winged, Kentucky and Hooded Warblers as well as American Redstarts and more. Most of our day will be spent in the Fernow Forest where we will hear and see lowland forest birds as well as higher elevation birds.  The managed forest plots create a wide variety of forest habitats.  Along Elklick Run in Fernow there are Louisiana Waterthrushes.  Other warbler species we could encounter there are: Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Canada, Chestnut-sided, Blackburnian, American Redstart, Worm-eating, Hooded, Mourning, Common Yellowthroat and Ovenbird.  Scarlet Tanagers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks as well as many other non-warbler species are common.   Public restrooms will be available at a stop between Big Run and Fernow.  (Difficulty rating: 1-2:  Most of the time we will be along dirt/gravel roadways near the cars.  People who want to chase a particular bird might get into more difficult terrain)  Leaders: Bill Beatty and Jan Runyan.

Saturday: 6:30pm I will be presenting the keynote,  “I See Your Hooded and Raise You a Wilson’s”  I have spent much of my life outdoors surrounded by multitudes of birds and other wild creatures. I have hiked every ridge and valley I could find, taken many thousands of photos for some of the world’s most prestigious magazines, handled tens of thousands of birds, been surrounded by lightning and drenched from head to toe in torrential downpours and loved every minute of it. Although I became known among photo editors for my work with insects, spiders and other invertebrates, birds were always my favorite. Through all of this, things happened…often with birds. From my book, “Rainbows, Bluebirds and Buffleheads” I will share some of my favorite stories from a lifetime of pursuing birds.

Sunday: 6:30am–11:30amBeall Tract – Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Participants will carpool to the Beall Tract, approximately 20 minutes from the lodge. The Beall trails pass through forest, field, shrub, swamp and bog habitats, with spur trails leading to the Blackwater River. The forested areas should produce a variety of warblers, thrushes and vireos. Kingfishers and flycatchers are often seen along the trails near the river. The grassland areas have produced over half a dozen sparrow species along the route. With such variety of habitat, the possibilities are certainly broad ranging.
Leaders: Bill Beatty and Jan Runyan (Difficulty: 2)

Additional information and registration: or

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines Class for the Master Naturalist Program – May 21, 2017, 1-5 PM

Pre-registration is required for this class.  The class will meet at the Good Zoo in Oglebay Park, Wheeling, WV.

Left to right – Deciduous forest, Highbush Cranberry and Dutchman’s Pipe Vine  All photos (c) Bill Beatty

In this class students will learn some of the more common woody plants, what makes woody plants different, and become familiar with how to identify trees by leaf characteristics.  Also discussed will be the importance of woody plants to humans and wildlife and how to approach further study, including helpful references.

Ralph Bell Birding (and wildflower) Extravaganza May 20, 2017

This event is free and open to the public.

Ralph at the AFMO bird banding station on Dolly Sods  (c) Bill Beatty

Begins at 9 am at the Bell Family Farm in Greene County, PA.  Jan and I will be leaders at this event.  It is a wonderful day of outstanding birding and looking at wildflowers as we walk 2.2  miles (round trip) along the road from Ralph’s farm to the bridge across Ten Mile Creek.  After the walk we will gather for a picnic under a spreading Tuliptree in the yard.  Bring your lunch and lawn chairs.  This is the 3rd annual tribute to Ralph who passed away in May, 2014.

All photos (c) Bill Beatty

There will be excellent birders, wildflower experts and professional naturalists on this walk willing to share their expertise.

Location of the Bell Farm on goggle maps:,+Jefferson,+PA+15344/@39.9465194,-80.0624328,14.75z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x88350bc94580d841:0x923b026c79c214f7!8m2!3d39.9436983!4d-80.0550257