West Virginia birdwatching

December 11, 2021 // 16 minutes read

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Northern Cardinal in winter

West Virginia may not have as many large wildlife habitats or necessary terrain like the bigger states have available to them, but it’s still an incredibly compelling and worthwhile destination to visit as a birder. It has a rugged and mountainous landscape that is truly one of the most beautiful sites to hold. 

And it’s also a favorite stopover for a number of different warblers including Swainson’s Warbler, Blue-Winged Warbler, and Gold-Winged Warbler among others during their migration season.

Not only are there beautiful coniferous highlands in the region, you’ll also discover national forests located in the Appalachian Mountains. Even better, birders have the opportunity to see some of their favorite species hanging around the Canadian border in the boreal region.

Whether you’re looking for a free place to visit to see your favorite birds or you don’t mind paying a small fee for the privilege, there’s definitely something for everyone to see and do in West Virginia. I highly recommend visiting the Mountain State the next time you’re in the area if you live here or happen to be spending time here on vacation.

In addition to the wonderful resources for West Virginia, we also have valuable birding destination articles on the wonderful states neighboring the Mountain State. They include Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio.

West Virginia free birdwatching destinations

Birding in West Virginia is certainly a wonderful treat. Even though the entire state is encompassed by the Appalachian Mountains, the Eastern Panhandle and Ohio River are home to stretches of marshland, natural habitats, and other perfect opportunities to see amazing birds like warblers, raptors, songbirds, and the like. Do not hesitate to spend time in the Mountain State the next time you’re in the mood for some exciting bird watching.

Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area

This protected area consists of 1096 acres along the Ohio River. It’s one of the most popular birding sites in West Virginia, and it’s also considered one of the most productive as well. This area is also popular for hunting, fishing, and it’s a great place to go hiking the next time you’d like to see some amazing birds out in the wild.


10225 Bryan Creek Rd.
Glenwood, WV 25520

Phone: 304-558-2771

GPS: 38°35′19″N 82°14′37″W

Website: https://www.wvdnr.gov/wildlife/magazine/archive/03Spring/field_trip_Green_Bottom.shtm 

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=112101412140578&__tn__=%2As-R 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/913424560/green-bottom-wildlife-management-area/ 

Hours Of Operation:

The wildlife management area is open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week.

  • Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
  • Least Bittern
  • Green Heron
  • Canada Goose
  • Willow Flycatcher
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk
  • Blue Grosbeak
  • Orchard Oriole
  • American Kestrel
  • King Rail
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Northern Harrier

Hiking Trails:

There are a number of hiking trails to discover when you visit Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area. I do not have too much detailed information about any of these trails other than their names and mileage, which I will gladly share with you below.

The names of the hiking trails at Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area are as follows:

  • Blue Heron Trail – 0.8 miles
  • Boardwalk Trail – 0.2 miles
  • Riverview Trail – 0.2 miles
  • Weir Trail – 0.2 miles

Clifton F. McClintic Wildlife Management Area

This beautiful tract of land is 3655 acres wide, and 1700 of those acres are beautiful hardwood forests. This place is filled with ponds, fields, and other natural wonders that make it a birder’s paradise. Hunters also tend to spend a lot of time in this wildlife management area as well. You’ll discover a plentiful supply of gorgeous birds because this place is truly a bird watcher’s paradise.


6182 Ohio River Rd. 
Point Pleasant, WV 25550

GPS: 38.9296° N, 82.0761° W 

Hours Of Operation:

The McClintic Wildlife Management Area is open seven days a week from dusk until dawn. There is no entrance fee or parking fees either.

  • Yellow-Throated Warbler
  • Wood Thrush
  • Wild Turkey
  • White-Eyed Vireo
  • Wood Duck
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Blue-Winged Warbler

Hiking Trails:

Even though there is so much room to roam around the McClintic Wildlife Management Area, there aren’t many very clearly defined hiking trails for you to walk along. Although, I did come across one very exciting looking trail that I’d like to tell you more about.

The name of the trail is as follows:

  • Rivers to Ridges Heritage Trail – although I cannot share specific parameters and mileage for this trail because I can’t find it anywhere on the web, I would like to tell you that this is a beautiful trail near the TNT section of the wildlife management area. You’ll walk through expanses of lush forests, beautiful wetlands, and you’ll walk all along the edge of a water source that’s filled with beautiful birds and lots of natural wildlife throughout this habitat.

Beech Fork State Park

This amazing state park is located on Beech Fork Lake, which is the home to a wonderful recreation site and camping area around 10 miles south of Huntington. The state park consists of part of the shoreline, and it makes up a chunk of the 7531 acres of Beech Fork Lake Wildlife Management Area. It’s a great place to go birding, and the range was designated as an Audubon Important Bird Area because so many woodland nesting birds take up residence in this location.


5601 Long Branch Rd.
Barboursville, WV 25504

Phone: 304-528-5794

GPS: 38.3072° N, 82.3488° W

Hours Of Operation:

Because this park is also a campground, the area is technically open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays. They have specific designated quiet hours that take place from 10 PM to 6 AM every day.

  • Kentucky Warbler
  • Wood Duck
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Eastern Whip-Poor-Will
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Broad-Winged Duck
  • Ovenbird
  • Louisiana Waterthrush
  • Hooded Warbler
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Black-and-White Warbler
  • Yellow-Throated Warbler

Hiking Trails:

Not only are there 4 fantastic hiking trails for you to walk along, but they also vary in distance and difficulty. For the most part, the majority of these trails are moderately difficult, so be prepared to traverse some uneven and messy ground when you head for the hiking trails at Beech Fork State Park.

You’re going to absolutely love the following trails:

  • Half Mary Davis – This Is a moderately difficult trail to travel upon, and rightfully so because it will take you right through the heart of the woods. While here, you’ll catch an eye full of some of the most gorgeous birds in the world, so it’s definitely worth the trip. The total length of the trail is 5.2 miles long, which should take around 2 ½ hours to complete.
  • The Overlook Trail – this is certainly the easiest of the four trails, even though the terrain presents moderate difficulty. The reason it’s easier is because it’s the shortest trail of the four that I’m about to share with you today. This trail is only 2.0 miles long, which you should have no trouble finishing from start to finish in about an hour.
  • Mary Davis Trail – you’re going to love Mary Davis Trail because it takes you right into the heart of the forest, which is exactly where you want to be to discover all of the amazing nesting birds in the area. The trail itself is 6.7 miles long, which is relatively difficult even for experienced hikers. So, expect to spend a good four hours and 10 minutes walking the length of this trail.
  • Lost Trail – the Lost Trail takes you along the water, which is a great place to see many of the park’s waterfowl like ducks and geese. There is also a plentiful supply of the birds to see in the trees, along the path, and everywhere in between. The total length of this trail is 3.6 miles, which you should likely finish in an hour and 45 minutes.

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is located in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, which is a beautiful place to see unusual animals, plants, and many wild birds scattered throughout the region. The Cranberry Glades are 750 acres of swamp, peat bog, marshes, and flat grassy plains. There is also a half mile boardwalk that allows you to easily access many different species of birds, so it’s a great place for all of you bird watchers to visit.


200 Sycamore St.
Elkins, WV 26241

Phone: 304-636-1800

GPS: 38.2044° N, 80.2662° W

Hours Of Operation:

The botanical area is open all year round, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Red Crossbill
  • Canada Warbler
  • Winter Wren
  • Olive-Sided Flycatcher
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Alder Flycatcher
  • Common Raven
  • Brown Creeper
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • American Redstart
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Blue-Headed Vireo

Hiking Trails:

You’ll be happy to know that if you like to go hiking and bird watching at the same time, there are four distinct and enjoyable hiking trails in this beautiful botanical area. Each of these hiking trails has much to offer, and they all lead to many of West Virginia’s wonderful bird species.

The names of these trails along with other pertinent information include:

  • Cranberry Bog Boardwalk – this hiking trail is definitely a favorite for many visitors to the botanical area in Cranberry Glades. Why is it so popular? Well, it’s a boardwalk that takes you directly through the heart of the glades, yet it’s relatively short since it’s only 0.6 miles long. It’s a very quick walk that you can finish in about 15 minutes, or double the length if you plan on walking it from one end to the other.
  • Falls of Hill’s Creek Overlook – as the name suggests, this moderately difficult trail will lead you directly to a gorgeous waterfall. And there are plenty of beautiful birds to view along the way. Even though this is a little bit rougher terrain, it’s relatively short at 0.6 miles, so it should only take you about 20 minutes to complete the trip to the falls.
  • Cowpasture Loop – I’m happy to tell you that even though this is a fairly long trail, it’s also a really easy-going trail because the path is well-defined, well cared for, and very easy to navigate. Overall, this trail is 9.5 miles long, which is definitely a pretty big distance when hiking. But, since it’s a fairly easy trail, it should only take you around three hours and 50 minutes to complete from beginning to end.
  • Falls of Hill’s Creek Trail – similar to a previous trail, this moderately difficult pathway will take you directly to a waterfall in Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, which is truly a beautiful sight to behold. The total length of the trail is 1.3 miles, which isn’t too long in my personal opinion. And overall, it should only take you about 45 minutes to finish the trail in its entirety.

Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

You’re going to love spending time at this 16,550-acre refuge nestled in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains. It’s the perfect combination of open grasslands, forests, and wetlands, that will provide an astounding birding experience for beginners and novices alike. They have a visitor center, where you can stop by to pick up maps and discover many entry points to the wildlife refuge.


6263 Appalachian Hwy.
Davis, WV 26260

Phone: 304-866-3858

GPS: 39.0454° N, 79.4462° W

Hours Of Operation:

The wildlife refuge is open every day, 365 days a year, and it never closes for holidays. The park opens from one hour before sunrise and closes one hour after sunset every day.

The visitor center is open Monday through Saturday starting on Memorial Day weekend, and it opens at 10 AM and closes at 4 PM as long as there are volunteers and staff on hand.

  • Golden-Crowned Kinglet
  • Pine Siskin
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Willow Flycatcher
  • Northern Harrier
  • Common Raven
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Grasshopper Sparrow
  • Blue-Headed Vireo

Hiking Trails:

There are some really remarkable hiking trails for you to enjoy as you walk along the national wildlife refuge. These trails all vary in distance and difficulty, which provides the perfect opportunity for beginner, intermediate, and expert hikers along the way. There is definitely a trail for everyone.

The names of the hiking trails are:

  • Camp 70 Loop – easy difficulty, 2.6 miles, one hour and 10 minutes to complete
  • Blue Mountain Trail – easy difficulty, 7.5 miles, three hours and 30 minutes to complete
  • Farmview Trail – moderate difficulty, 2.5 miles, one hour to complete
  • Back Hollow, Railroad Grade Trail Loop – moderate difficulty, 7.8 miles, three hours to complete
  • Idleman Loop Trail – easy difficulty, 1 mile, 25 minutes to complete
  • Beall Loop and Blackwater View Trail – easy difficulty, 4.7 miles, two hours and 10 minutes to complete

West Virginia paid birdwatching destinations

Ventures Birding Tours

There are a plethora of different tour guides that are part of the Ventures Birding family. Simon Thompson was the last person to run the West Virginia birding tour that took place in 2020. 

There’s currently a waiting list that you can join if you’d like to become a participant in the next birding tour that goes through Southeast West Virginia.

This company was originally founded in Western North Carolina. But they spread their wings so to speak, and now provide multiple birding tours throughout North America and other countries internationally.

To give you an idea, the last time they took their trip to West Virginia, it cost the following based on the two available packages:

  • Double Occupancy – $1345 with a $300 deposit
  • Single Traveler – $1640 with a $300 deposit

You can join the waitlist by visiting the following webpage.


Ventures Birding Tours
PO Box 1095
Skyland, NC 28776

Phone: 828-333-7288

West Virginia birdwatching clubs

West Virginians are absolutely in luck living in such a mountainous region. These mountains provide so many delightful opportunities to view wild birds in their natural habitat. If you’re into birding and you live in West Virginia, you’ll definitely want to join one or more of a few unique and enticing bird watching clubs in the region.

Mountaineer Chapter of the National Audubon Society

This local chapter of the National Audubon Society covers Taylor, Preston, Marion, Monongalia, and Harrison counties in north-central West Virginia. Members of the group also hale from southern parts of Fayette and Greene counties in Pennsylvania as well.

The group’s mission is to promote conservation, education, outreach, and birding in the local community.

Past and Future Events

  • Coopers Rock State Forest – this location is a regular stop for members of the Mountaineer chapter in West Virginia. There are more than 160 birds in this location, which means there are plenty of opportunities to see some of your favorite winged creatures. You’ll discover Golden-Crowned Kinglets, Brown Creepers, Broad-Winged Hawks, and American Woodcocks among many other lovely bird species.
  • Dorsey’s Knob Park – this is another destination that the group regularly visits because it’s one of the highest points in Morgantown. While here, you’ll have a chance to see such spectacular birds like Brown Thrashers, Chimney Swifts, Northern Flickers, Eastern Towhees, and more amazing winged creatures.
  • Little Indian Creek Wildlife Management Area – obviously, Little Indian Creek is the perfect place to go to see the natural world in all of its glory. This protected wildlife management area has a wide array of birds to see including Prairie Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Eastern Bluebirds, American Kestrel, Red-Tailed Hawks, and more.

Membership Fees

  • Membership – $30 per year

To join this club, please visit the National Audubon Society/Mountaineer Chapter Membership page and follow the on-screen instructions.

Brooks Bird Club

This bird club is an independent nonprofit organization that promotes education, independence, and birding. They get together for regular field trips, club meetings, and other stimulating events. Join this club if you’re looking to come together with like-minded persons who also love birds and birding.

Past and Future Events

  • Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area – this is a regular destination that they visit during the wintertime.
  • WV Christmas Bird Counts – this event takes place every year between December 14 and January 5 and it’s hosted by the National Audubon Society. These counts are very fun for birders and they are a great way to ring in the holiday season.
  • Mountain Nature Camp – this is a regular trip that the Brooks Bird Club goes on during the summertime. In 2020, they spent six nights camping in the wilderness and had the opportunity to go on numerous hikes, see a plethora of birds, and enjoy each other’s company.

Membership Fees

  • Individual Membership – $35
  • Family Membership – $40
  • Sustaining Membership – $60
  • Student Membership – $20
  • Individual Lifetime Membership – $550
  • Family Lifetime Membership – $700

West Virginia birding final thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to read and learn about the top free and paid birding destinations in West Virginia, along with the top birdwatching clubs in the area. We hope you found this information useful and informative.

Before you go:

Do you know of any other important birding areas, clubs, or bird watching destinations that need to be added to our West Virginia resources? Feel free to send us a message and tell us about your resource so we can add it to this page. 

We’d like to be the best birdwatching resource in West Virginia and your help is appreciated!

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