West Virginia Bird Watching

An orange and black bird takes flight from a branchThe forests and mountains surrounding Harman’s are a birder’s paradise. From soaring Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons to backyard favorites such as Cardinals, Blue Birds, and Scarlet Tanagers to Wild Turkeys in our mountain vistas, we have some of the most isolated and beautiful birding sites in the state of West Virginia.

From your log cabin, you can watch eagles soar above Hopeville Canyon or feeding on trout in the North Fork River.  Just a short hike from your cabin in North Fork Mountain you can experience the best bird watching West Virginia has to offer.

Nearby you can listen to the songs of warblers courting in dense evergreen forests atop the Allegheny Plateau, see woodpeckers scour the bark of oak trees for insects, wade through a high elevation fen to glimpse a bittern, or watch waterfowl resting on a migration stopover. These and many other natural wonders await even the casual bird watcher in West Virginia.

Birds are among the easiest wildlife to locate and study because they are relatively easy to find. Many are colorful or have songs which alert you to where they might be settled on a tree branch. Some travel in large groups, are active during the day and can be studied from a reasonable distance, sometimes even without binoculars.

West Virginia, with its temperate climate, diverse vegetation and dramatic topography, plays host to numerous species of birds throughout the year. In fact, there are 300 plus species of birds that inhabit the state during some portion of the year. More than 75 of these species are known to breed in the state, with the remainder being migrants that pass through or species that spend the winter here.

Late spring through early fall is when bird viewing opportunities are highest in the Mountain State. From April to July you can rise early and hear the songs of the various species that breed here. Fall and spring are good times to see birds migrating over major waterways and along mountain ridges. Even winter affords the bird watcher access to over 50 species that brave West Virginia’s rugged mountains.

A few of West Virginia best bird watching areas are nearby: Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area and Smoke Hole Recreation Area.   Join us in the North Fork Mountain where sighting soaring birds is a daily event.

West Virginia State Bird – Cardinal

The Northern Cardinal is an easily-spotted red bird from the eastern USA. The cardinal was named by early American settlers, after Catholic cardinals who dress in bright red robes. These birds are strongly territorial and have a loud, whistling song.

The Northern Cardinal is 8-9 inches (20.5-23 cm) long and has a wingspread of 10 -12 inches (25-31 cm). It weighs from 1 to 2 ounces (28-57 gm). It has a short, wide bill. Males have brilliant red feathers, a tall head crest, a wide, red bill, and a black face. Females and juveniles are gray-olive above and paler below, with some deep red on the crest, wings, and tail, and a bright pink-to-orange bill.

Cardinals eat seeds, insects, snails, and maple sap.

Nest and Eggs:
The Cardinal’s nests are bowl-like and made from grass and twigs. Nests are built in bushes. Eggs are whitish with brown and gray marking; females lay 2-5 eggs in each clutch (a set of eggs laid at one time).

Bird Watching list for the Monongahela National Forest

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Birding Web Sites


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