The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is an annual four-day event for bird watchers from novice to notable ornithologists. “For four days anyone can count and identify birds in their backyard, or in my case at Pipestem State Park, submit the information online and have our West Virginia information become part of a national database,” said Pipestem Naturalist Jim Phillips. The minimum time is at least a 15 minute observation on any of the four days or longer and multiple places or days. “I’ll be counting at our Pipestem bird walks and when I get home, I’ll count in my backyard,” Phillips said. This year the GBBC is being integrated into a worldwide bird data collection program. To enter data is as simple as creating an account at www.birdsource.org and following some basic instructions.

Pipestem, Cacapon, and Blackwater Falls state parks have bird walks and watches scheduled during the Great Backyard Bird Count event. Each park naturalist will submit the collected data during these activities to the GBBC website or eBird.

Pipestem Resort – 304-466-1800, Jim Phillips Naturalist

A variety of starting points, days and times is scheduled so the bird watching and counting can record species that may be more prone to wooded areas vs. open fields or forest margins. There is no charge to visit the nature center or attend any outdoor activities.

Friday, February 15

  • Meet at the Pipestem nature center at 10 a.m. for a car caravan to nearby (nine miles one Eagle Watchway) Bluestone State Park to look for wintering eagles. We will have a spotting scope and binoculars available for the trip. (2 hours)

Saturday, February 16

  • Saturday Morning Bird Walk meets in the lobby of McKeever Lodge at 9 a.m. for a walk through the cabin area. Some binoculars will be available to loan for the walk and participants are welcome to bring binoculars. (1 – 1 1/4 hours bird study)

Nature Center on Saturday and Sunday

Nature Center will be open Saturday, February 16 from 10:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. observing and counting birds that frequent this habitat. The Nature Center is open again on Sunday, February 17 from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. This is a good opportunity for individuals to to learn different species of birds. There is no charge to visit the nature center or attend any outdoor activities.

Sunday, February 17

  • Get Outdoors with Jim begins at the nature center at 9:30 a.m. for a bird walk along the edge of the woods. Binoculars will be available for the walk. (1 hour)

Cacapon State Park – 304-258-1022 – Renee Fincham, Naturalist

Saturday, February 16

Birrrrds of Winter Hike is at 2:30 p.m. beginning from the nature center. Naturalist Renee Fincham will host the event and look for resident birds that are still around. The natural landscape of the Laurel Trail will yield a surprising number of winter species. This trail is approximately two miles with a few hills, but is a great trail at Cacapon. The hike will be up to 1 ½ hours. Fincham organizes Saturday activities throughout the winter months dedicated to nature, in addition to special events at Cacapon.

Blackwater Falls State Park – 304-259-5216 – Paulita Cousin, Naturalist

Saturday, February 16

  • Up and At ‘Em Bird Walk starts at 8:30 a.m. from Blackwater Falls Lodge. This is will be a short 45 minute walk and data recording.
  • For the Birds at the Harold Walters Nature Center is a basics of bird identification program, how to use binoculars and field change and discovering what different birds eat. A bird project is also planning and a 15 minute count for GBBC.
  • Birds and Buds is an afternoon hike beginning at 2:30 p.m. from the Blackwater Falls Nature Center. The area has spruce, hemlock and northern hardwoods that many species of birds call home. The hike/walk will be up to two hours. Cousin, like Phillips at Pipestem, identifies birds by sight and sound.

Sunday, February 17

  • For the Birds repeats beginning at 10:30 a.m. to acquaint attendees who want to learn to use binoculars and field guides.
  • Lake Meander starts from the nature center and will observe birds in the Pendleton Lake area of Blackwater Falls. In addition to counting birds, Cousin includes information about plants and animals that also share this area and encourages attendees to challenge her with questions.

Monday, February 18

  • Birds, Birds, Birds walk on Monday begins at 11 a.m. at the Blackwater Falls Sled Run and will last about one hour over the course of a one-half mile bird watching trail.

Image courtesy West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

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