New birding events take flight in W. Va. State Parks

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SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia State Parks will hold a new event — “Feathered Wonders! Bird and Banding Weekend” — at Tygart Lake State Park May 6-8.

“Our saw whet owl programming at Valley Falls in late October and early November opened a door to additional programming on migratory birds in West Virginia, particularly in the Tygart Valley,” said Sissie Summers, programming administrator with West Virginia’s state parks. “Birding trails and forays continue to be sought by outdoor enthusiasts. Learning the different species that nest, winter or pass through West Virginia during migration is fascinating.”

Birding events:

March 12; Pipestem Resort State Park Eagle Count and Survey. Join volunteers and assist in sighting and recording eagles observed in the Bluestone/New River area from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., on March 12.

Pipestem Naturalist Jim Phillips and volunteers conduct two annual eagle surveys, one in January and a second survey in March. Phillips recently was featured on West Virginia Wildlife, a television program produced for the Wildlife Section of the Division of Natural Resources.

He reported that bald eagles are being observed more and more throughout West Virginia and in particular the Bluestone area. Phillips said 17 eagles observed on one day in February was his all-time record sighting. Bird surveys previously conducted by Phillips and volunteers are posted on Pipestem State Park’s website at www.pipestemresort.com/Surveys.html.

To be part of the March 12 survey, contact Mindy Waldron with the Bibbee Nature Club, 304-573-7423, prior to March 10 for a designated survey observation point.

April 16, 23, and 30; Prickett’s Fort State Park Annual Spring Bird Walks. Morning bird walks are offered on three Saturdays in April at Prickett’s Fort State Park.

The leaders meet attendees at the at Prickett’s Fort Visitor’s Center at 8 a.m. for departure. The length of time to complete the walk depends on the morning bird activity, and weather is always a factor. Typically, the walk lasts about two hours.

No charge

The bird walk at Prickett’s Fort and any of the park birding activities is casual and there is no charge. The route is easy, but the surface can be uneven, so participants should wear sturdy walking shoes. Attendees should bring binoculars and a bird guide if they have them, but some binoculars may be available.

In addition to the bird walks on each of these dates, bird banding is conducted at the fort area. Spring migrants observed in past years include: Blue-winged Warblers, Orchard Orioles, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

Local bird residents that may be seen on the morning walks are Warbling Vireo, Northern Mockingbird and Gray Catbird.

“Hike leaders reported a Swainson’s Warbler was heard and sighted in the area throughout the summer of 2010,” according to Summers.

For more information regarding the April bird walks at Prickett’s Fort State Park, call Sue Olcott at 304-825-6787.

May 6-8;Tygart Lake State Park Feathered Wonders! Bird and Banding Weekend. Expereience birds up close while observing birds being banded.

The weekend goal is to introduce visitors, area residents and park guests to bird watching. Folks can arrive for any part of the scheduled activities that includes banding of migratory birds. There is no charge.

A “birder rate” is available for individuals interested in spending a night at Tygart Lodge or for the weekend for birding activities or simply enjoying spring outdoors, according to Stephanie Bailey, activities coordinator at Tygart Lake. The topography for the Tygart banding station allows greater accessibility for attendees.

“Feathered Wonders!” is open to the public at no charge.

More events

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources maintains a webpage that includes fact sheets on many bird species, where to watch birds and more at www.wvdnr.gov/wildlife/birdwv.shtm. West Virginia State Parks’ “Explore Outdoors” webpage offers additional birding information, www.wvstateparks.com/Explore.htm

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