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

4 thoughts on “Canaan Valley Birding Festival – June 1-4, 2017

  1. Bill,
    Bill here, I was the squash pro/ sports nut from Philadelphia who initiated a conversation with you a couple of weeks ago on the board walk at Crane Creek…originally from Roanoke, I spoke to how Maurice Brook’s book had prompted me to search out Cranberry Glades and Dolly Dodd. You mentioned your upcoming bird festival which I have an interest in. Is there still time to signup. Also, I would travel in my RV with my little dog…a problem? If not , best place to hookup ? 267-909-5092


    • Hi Bill,

      Yes, there is still time to sign up. There is a nice campground at Canaan Valley State Park. Your dog should not be a problem at the campground, but I am not sure what the pet policy is at the Festival. You can ask when you call. A few years back at a state event I was teaching at a small dog ran onto a roadway and was killed. It pretty much shocked all those on the field trip that the rest of the day was a downer. Since I am a leader and not an organizer you would get more concrete answers to your questions by calling Canaan. Hope you can make it. Bill


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