Whether you are a novice or an experienced birder, this weekend will have something for everyone!
The Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, containing ecological niches similar to all the latitudes from here to northern Canada, are acclaimed as a place to see an incredible variety of birds. This weekend celebrates that diversity with programs and trips highlighting the wide variety of birds in our Mountain State.
On Friday at 3 pm Jan will be teaching, “The Essentials of Birding.”
This class is designed to help both experienced birders and beginners expand and improve their birding abilities. Together we will explore bird appearance, behavior, location, sounds and more.
On Friday evening at 7 pm Bill will present the program, “Sparrows of West Virginia.”
This program emphasizes identification and highlights the natural history of what some birders consider a difficult group to accurately identify.
On Saturday, we will leave the Blackwater Falls Lodge at 6 am and travel to the Stuart Memorial area for an all-day field trip.
With elevations ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 feet, this wonderful 10-mile drive through mixed hardwood and Red Spruce forests highlights West Virginia’s high elevation specialties. There will be many stops and some short walks in this bird-rich area. Typically, 15-18 species of warblers are seen/heard including the possibility of Golden-winged Warblers and Mourning Warblers. Species we should see/hear at the highest elevations include Brown Creepers, Winter Wrens, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Swainson’s Thrushes and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. At lower elevations, species can include Least Flycatchers, Blue-headed Vireos, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Purple Finches. We will eat lunch near/on the observation deck at Bickle Knob which offers a stunning 360-degree panorama of the West Virginia mountains.
On Saturday evening at 7 pm Bill will present the program, “Eastern Screech-owl Studies.”
Bill studied this owl species for 28 years and is considered to be one of the leading experts on the Eastern Screech-owl. Part of his research included midnight to sunrise surveys in conjunction with Wheeling, WV, Christmas Bird Counts. During those years, Wheeling, WV, consistently had the highest Eastern Screech-owl numbers in North America. Highlights of the program include trapping and breeding biology studies as well as spectacular photos of these secretive owls.
On Saturday evening, following the Eastern Screech-owl program, Park Naturalist, Paulita Cousin will lead an “Owl Prowl” in the park.
On Sunday, leaving the Blackwater Falls Lodge at 6:30 am, we will travel to the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.
We will visit several areas in the Refuge including the wetlands of the Freeland Boardwalk Trail, the open meadows, wood-edges and deciduous forests of Forest Service Road 80, and the Red Spruce woods where the road ends on Dolly Sods. Through the elevation changes, many bird species will be heard and seen, possibly including Bobolinks, several sparrow species, Northern Harriers and American Kestrels in the lowlands; forest interior breeders such as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Ovenbirds and Hooded Warblers in the middle elevations; and mountaintop species such as Blackburnian Warblers and Golden-crowned Kinglets at the top. Along the way we will listen for niche birds such as Canada Warblers, Winter Wrens and several thrush species including the Swainson’s Thrush.
Join us for this celebration of West Virginia’s wonderful mountain bird diversity!
Registration form and additional information: https://wvstateparks.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/MountainStateBirdingFestivalRegistration.pdf
Directions to Blackwater Falls State Park: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Blackwater+Falls+State+Parkemail@example.com,-79.4972965,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x884ac93ea954f8ad:0xa67bfe42ac7e9843!8m2!3d39.1076563!4d-79.4951078