West Virginia’s 5 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

Written by Abdulmumin Akinde
Published: September 20, 2022
© Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com
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While West Virginia might not rank number one on the list of states with thriving wildlife populations, it still offers numerous wildlife habitats. For bird-watching enthusiasts, it is an excellent location to visit. The mountainous landscapes alone are pretty scenic and breathtaking. In addition, West Virginia borders Canada’s Boreal Forest, a location that attracts all kinds of birds. During the migration season, West Virginia attracts a large variety of warblers, such as blue-winged warbler, gold-winged warbler, and several other unique bird species. Are you looking to explore West Virginia’s best bird-watching spot this summer? Here are some of the places you can check out in the state.

1. Beech Fork State Park

Located at Long Branch road on Barboursville in West Virginia, Beech Fork lake is home to this amazing state park which is open to the public for free. The lake is one of the state’s most popular recreational and camping areas. The park has been designated as an Audubon important birding area due to the sheer number of woodland birds that have taken up residence in that area. The lake and surrounding areas provide a fantastic birding area for avid bird watchers. 

Since the park often serves as a campground, you can find it open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, even on holidays. To explore the park and find cool bird-watching spots, you can find any of the four exciting hiking trails open to visitors. 

Common bird species at Beech Fork State Park

Animals That Play Dead duck
Wood ducks are colorful waterfowl seen in Beech Fork state park.

2. Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

Also known as “The Glades,” the Cranberry Glades is located in the southwestern Pocahontas County of West Virginia. The 750-acre landscape sits right in the middle of Monongahela National Forest – a lovely area to see the most natural and the most unusual of animals, plants, and of course, a wide species of birds. The forest is known to encapsulate some of the most beautiful sceneries in the United States, but Cranberry Glades is by far one of the most outstanding.

This botanical area offers different birding habitats, which include swamps, marshes, peat bogs, and grass plains, where you can find various bird species. A half-mile boardwalk allows you to access different locations on this site easily. The cranberry bog boardwalk has remained a crowd favorite for exploring this botanical area because it takes you straight to the heart of the glades. 

Common bird species at Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

Male Purple Finch perched on a feeder with a green background
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area is an excellent place to watch the purple finch.

©Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com

3. Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area

Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area is home to one of the most popular and productive bird-watching spots in West Virginia. The 1096-acre wildlife area is located along the Ohio River, which attracts several bird species naturally. 

Beyond bird watching, tourists also visit this site to hunt and fish. However, birding remains one of the most popular activities here. Over 100 species of birds are regularly seen each year along the river bottom. Green Bottom has a lot of marsh habitats, and the water levels are managed annually to support the wildlife. This makes it an attractive spot for waterbirds. Since it isn’t just an exclusive birding spot, you can find it open from sunrise up until sunset every day. 

Common bird species at Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area

Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor, sitting on a branch.
Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area is an attractive location for tree swallow.

©Elliotte Rusty Harold/Shutterstock.com

4. Clifton F. McClintic Wildlife Management Area

This beautiful 3655-acre land is located at Point Pleasant, along the Ohio River road. It is undoubtedly one of the most active natural spots in West Virginia. With a large expanse area of up to 1700 acres of beautiful forests, this wildlife management is characterized by ponds, fields, and several natural habitats. 

If you are looking for a wildlife area that truly defines bird paradise, Clifton is your best bet. You can find it open from dusk till dawn every day of the week. There are no parking fees, and admittance is accessible to the general public for free. McClintic Wildlife Management Area is more beneficial to bird watchers than to hikers. People who aren’t enthusiastic about just birds but nature, in general, can also come and experience nature in its truest and purest form. 

Common bird species at Clifton McClintic Wildlife Management Area

North Carolina bluebird in full flight
Eastern blubirds are common birds in McClintic Wildlife Management Area.

©jo Crebbin/Shutterstock.com

5. Cranesville Swamp

You can find Cranesville Swamp in the Appalachian mountains on the border of West Virginia and Maryland. If you are looking for rare bird species in a coniferous and hardwood forestry environment, you can find them here. Cranesville is usually quite cold because the hills surrounding the area capture a lot of moisture and cold air. Many of the bird species found here are more common in colder climates. 

The birdlife of Cranesville Swamp is quite unique. This location supports a population of birds you cannot find in many other areas worldwide. Birds that favor the mountain bog habitat are exclusively found here. One of the highlights of this site is the alder flycatcher, a very rare bird species.

Common bird species at Cranesville Swamp

Broad-winged Hawk
Broad-winged hawks are present in Cranesville Swamp.

©pr2is/Shutterstock.com

  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Blue Headed Vireo
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Northern Saw Whet Owl
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Broad-Winged Hawk
  • Golden-Crowned Kinglet
  • Veery
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Black-Throated Green Warbler
  • Alder Flycatcher
  • Willow Flycatcher

These are some of West Virginia’s best bird-watching spots. You can discover more information about these remarkable wildlife areas on their website and social media pages. Other important birding spots include Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Core Arboretum, Stauffer’s Marsh Nature Preserve, and Gaudineer Scenic Area. In addition, many bird clubs exist in West Virginia. You can always find one to be a part of and connect with other birding enthusiasts like you.

Up Next 

Nebraska’s 6 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

New Mexico’s 5 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

Nevada’s 5 Best Bird Watching Spots This Summer

5 Birds That Nest on the Ground


The Featured Image

Female Eastern Bluebird
© Steve Byland/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Abdulmumin is a pharmacist and a top-rated freelance writer on Upwork. He can pretty much write on anything that can be researched on the internet. However, he particularly enjoys writing on health, technology and animals. He is inquisitive and currently aspires to become a software engineer. He loves animals, especially horses and would love to have one someday.

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Sources
  1. Audubon (1970) audubon.org/news/birding-west-virginia-0
  2. Bird Informer, Available here: https://www.birdinformer.com/birding-west-virginia/