By Mountaineer Audubon
October 26, 2017
BIRDING IN THE MORGANTOWN AREA
Including the Monongahela and Cheat River valleys, city parks, rural farms and grasslands, and a higherelevation state forest, there is lots of wonderful habitat in Monongalia and nearby Marion and Preston Counties that hosts numerous bird species.
Many species can be found at almost any time of the year in proper habitat, though some are hard to find during the winter. These include Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Great Blue Heron, Black and Turkey Vultures, Sharp-shinned, Cooper’s, Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks, Killdeer, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Eastern-Screech and Barred Owls, Belted Kingfisher, Redbellied, Downy, Hairy, and Pileated Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Carolina and Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, Whitebreasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Field and Song Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch (Morgantown’s official city bird), and House Sparrow.
Breeding residents arrive in the spring and leave in the fall, including Green Heron, Broad-winged Hawk, American Woodcock, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian, Willow, and Least Flycatchers, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, Blue-headed, Warbling, and Redeyed Vireos, Purple Martins, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, Barn, and Cliff Swallows, House Wren, Bluegray Gnatcatcher, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Bluewinged, Black-and-white, Kentucky, Hooded, Cerulean, Northern Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Blackthroated Blue, Yellow-throated, Prairie, and Black-throated Green Warblers, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-breasted Chat, Grasshopper and Chipping Sparrows, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Orchard and Baltimore Orioles.
A few birds are primarily winter residents present from fall through spring, though a few may nest during the summer in specific locations and water birds may only be present during milder winters when the rivers and lakes are not frozen. These include Tundra Swan, Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Greater and Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded, Common, and Red-breasted Mergansers, Ruddy Duck, Common Loon, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, Double-crested Cormorant, Bald Eagle, American Coot, Ring-billed Gull, Great Horned Owl, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Merlin, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Tree, Whitethroated and White-crowned, and Swamp Sparrows, and Dark-eyed Junco—though a few of these can be found in the nearby mountains in summer.
Spring and fall migrants not normally seen in summer and winter include Blue-winged Teal, Osprey, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Bonaparte’s and Herring Gulls, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Veery, Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes, Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Cape May, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, 2 Blackburnian, Blackpoll, and Palm Warblers, Fox and Lincoln’s Sparrows, Rusty Blackbirds, and Purple Finches.
All other species are rarely seen, are vagrants, or occur only in irruptive years.
Although there are many good birding locations around Morgantown, check out these in particular. A spotting scope is often necessary at Cheat Lake and along the Monongahela River.
1. Cheat Lake
Stretching south along the east shore of Cheat Lake from the Lake Lynn dam at the Pennsylvania state line, Cheat Lake Trail and Park is a 4.5-mile long former railroad right-of-way owned by Mon Power. It is a flat trail along the lakeshore bordered by woods. From late fall through mid spring, except when the lake freezes over, it is a major stopover for migrating water birds. Over 160 species have been recorded at various times of the year, including 24 species of duck (especially Wood, American Black, Mallard, Ring-necked, Lesser Scaup, and Ruddy Ducks, Bufflehead, and Hooded Merganser), Canada Goose, Tundra Swan, Wild Turkey, Common Loon, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, Bald Eagle, Spotted Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, Eastern Screech and Great Horned Owls, Belted Kingfisher, six species of woodpeckers, Common Raven, Barn Swallow, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Dark-eyed Junco.
The south end of Cheat Lake is primarily of interest during spring, fall, and early winter water bird migration. The best vantage points—all on the east side of the lake–are at Sunset Harbour Marina, directly under the east end of the I-68 bridge, and near the marinas south of I-68. Both Barn and Cliff Swallows nest under the bridge.
Cheat Lake Park and Trail: From I-68 exit 10 just east of Cheat Lake, take Route 43 north 0.5 mile to the first exit, turn left on Bowers Lane and go 0.2 mile, then left on Route 857. Go 1.5 miles and turn left on Morgan’s Run Road. Follow for 1.6 miles to the parking lot on the left.
South end of the lake: At the first exit of Route 43, turn right on Bowers Lane, which will curve around and become Sunset Beach Road. Sunset Harbor Marina is 0.8 miles from Route 43. Continue south on Sunset Beach Road another 0.4 mile and turn right at the small shopping center onto Route 857 (unmarked). Follow this road 0.3 mile to the light blue utility building just past the bridge, where there is a short trail down to the water. Continue south on Route 857 another 0.1 mile to the road to the WV Geological and Economic Survey just before the Route 857 bridge, turn left and go 0.4 mile to the driveway just past the Edgewater Marina, where you can scan the marinas at the south end of the lake.
2. Cooper’s Rock State Forest
This 12,713-acre West Virginia State Forest, where about 160 species have been seen, lies predominantly south of I-68 in both Monongalia and Preston Counties. Cooper’s Rock SG in designated by the National Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area. Note: hunting is permitted in fall. Roads past the parking area 0.3 mile south of I-68 are closed in winter; the roads north of I-68 remain open year round.
It is a prime breeding area for songbirds, including five species of woodpeckers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian and Great Crested Flycatchers, Eastern Phoebe, Common Raven, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Black-capped Chickadee, Winter Wren, Veery, Wood Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Black-and-white, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Cerulean, and Hooded Warblers, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Chipping Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Rosebreasted Grosbeak, and Baltimore Oriole. Other birds encountered occasionally in season are Ruffed Grouse, Broad-winged Hawk, American Woodcock, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Junco, and Purple Finch. Many miles of trails wind through upland forest, stream valleys, and Rhododendron and Hemlock patches. Best areas for birding are the McCollum Campground road junction and adjoining Clay Run Trail, the Raven Rock Trail, the Roadside Trail crossing of the Henry Clay Furnace Road (for spring and fall migration). The cliffs at the Main Overlook and Raven Rock give panoramic views of the Cheat River Canyon and great views of soaring vultures and hawks.
The area north of I-68 contains the West Virginia University experimental forest (which contains some clearcut and regenerating areas, but also vast stretches of forest), the Trout Pond (where Yellowthroated Vireo, Barn Swallow, Yellow Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Baltimore Oriole, and Spotted Sandpiper have been seen), the Hemlock Trail (which is a hotspot for Acadian Flycatcher, Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos, Winter Wren, Veery, and numerous warblers), the cutover area accessed from the Ken’s Run Trailhead (especially Chestnut-sided Warbler and Field Sparrow), and several other trails.
South of I-68: From I-68 exit 15 at the top of the mountain east of Cheat Lake, turn right and go about 3.0 miles to the end of the road at the Main Overlook. A side road 0.5 mile south of I-68 leads to the Henry Clay Iron Furnace Trailhead. Other trailheads are located at various points along the main road.
North of I-68: From exit 15, cross over the highway, turn left, and go 0.5 mile to the Trout Pond. For the experimental forest and Hemlock Trail, cross the highway, turn right and go 0.5 mile on Old Route 73. At Chestnut Ridge Road, continue straight on Route 73 for 2.3 mile to the Hemlock Trail, or turn left and go 1.5 miles to the Ken’s Run Trailhead parking lot on the right, passing the clear-cut areas and a couple of other trailheads.
3. Dorsey’s Knob Park
Located on one of the highest points in Morgantown, this 70-acre city park has several miles of hiking trails through mountaintop fields and woods, and there is a wonderful panoramic view of Morgantown and the Monongahela River Valley from atop the Sky Rock, its highest point. It is a popular stopover for migrating songbirds and many nest there as well. Over 130 species have been seen. Look for Wild Turkey, Chimney Swift, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, House and Carolina Wrens, Cedar Waxwing, Eastern Towhee, Chipping, Field, and Song Sparrows, Scarlet Tanager, Rosebreasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, and Baltimore and Orchard Orioles. Ruby-crowned and Goldencrowned Kinglets and 26 species of warblers have been seen–mostly in migration.
From the downtown Morgantown end of the Route 19 bridge, go south on Route 119 for 2.7 miles to the entrance on the left.
4. Fairfax Pond-Rehe Wildlife Management Area
This Preston County location is near the Decker’s Creek Trail between Reedsville and Arthurdale. It consists of several good-sized ponds, marshes, and wooded and regenerating areas behind them. It is a hunting area in season, but provides good birding year round. Over 180 species have been recorded. During fall, winter (when unfrozen), and spring, the ponds are popular stopover spots for a wide variety of waterbirds, including Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Ringnecked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, and American Coot. Shorebirds and waders include Great Blue and Green Herons, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Wilson’s Snipe, and Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers.
Landbirds are concentrated during migration and the breeding season with relatively few spending the winter. Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, Chimney Swift, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, Common Raven, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, and Barn Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Magnolia, Yellow, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, American Tree, Chipping, Field, Fox, White-throated, Song, and Swamp Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Towhee, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, and American Goldfinch are most noteworthy.
From the Route 7/Route 92 intersection in Reedsville, go south on Route 92 past the Decker’s Creek Trail crossing to Arthur Road. Turn left and follow about 0.2 mile to first parking area, which provides access to a pond just to the south near a school. Continue on Arthur Road another 0.1 mile to a gate on the right just past the wetlands, which provides access to a marsh and pond. Continue on Arthur Road another 0.2 mile to an unmarked trail on the right, which goes through the woods to that same pond. Continue another 0.2 mile to a parking area on the right, which accesses Fairfax Pond, and some trails beyond it. Birding along Arthur Road can also be productive beyond the Fairfax Pond parking lot.
5. Little Indian Creek Wildlife Management Area
Mostly a reclaimed mine area with regenerating vegetation, it is especially good for open-country birds. The bird lists totals over 160 species. It is the best spot in the area to witness American Woodcock doing its aerial display at dusk in spring and to find Connecticut Warbler during fall migration. Other target birds should include Red-shouldered and Redtailed Hawks, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Eastern Phoebe, White-eyed and Red-eyed Vireos, Common Raven, Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Common Yellowthroat, Blue-winged, Yellow, Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Prairie Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat, Grasshopper, American Tree, Chipping, Field, and White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Towhee, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Eastern Meadowlark, and Orchard and Baltimore Orioles.
From I-79 at the Route 19 exit for Morgantown Mall, go south of Route 19 about 4.5 miles to Little Indian Creek Road. Turn left and bear right, going about a mile to a small parking area at a fork in the road, where you can bird along the road in both directions along the creek. The reclaimed mine area is at the top of the hill using the left road fork from the first parking area. The best birding is behind the gate on the right side of the road behind the parking area.
6. Monongahela River/Caperton Trails
A former railroad right-of-way along the east bank of the river stretches from the Pennsylvania state line 29 miles south to Prickett’s Fort State Park north of Fairmont. Several miles through downtown Morgantown are paved and called the Caperton Trail. The best areas are stretches north and south of the end of Van Voorhis Road, from Edith Barill Park in Star City south to the Morgantown Utility Board wastewater treatment plant, the stretch through the Core Arboretum, from Morgantown Lock and Dam north to the Route 19 bridge just north of Hazel Ruby McQuain Park, and north and south of the Uffington access area near the I-79 bridge. Over 170 species have been seen between Van Voorhis Road and Uffington. During late fall and winter, the Dam-McQuain Park stretch and the outflows of the Morgantown power plant and the Star City water treatment plant may be the only unfrozen parts of the river and become concentration points for Canada Goose, American Black Duck, Mallard, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, and other ducks, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, American Coot, and Ring-billed Gull. Bald Eagle, Osprey, and Double-crested Cormorant are seen occasionally all along the river at times. Cliff Swallows nest on the Route 19 bridge in Star City. Most stretches are largely bordered by forests and are home to many resident and migrating birds such as Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, Belted Kingfisher, six kinds of woodpeckers, Chimney Swift, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Whiteeyed, Warbling, and Red-eyed Vireos, Tree, Barn, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Carolina Wren, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow, Yellow-throated, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Chipping, Field, Song, and White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, and American Goldfinch.
Van Voorhis Road: From the junction of Routes 19 and 705 at the WV University basketball arena, take 705 south for 1.2 miles and where 705 makes a sharp right, go straight through the stoplight for 2.1 miles to parking area next to trail.
Barill Park in Star City: from the Route 19/705 junction take Route 19 north 0.8 miles, turn right on Boyers Avenue, then make an immediate left opposite Leeway Street. Go two blocks, turn left and cross the trail, then make a sharp right and go past the 84 Lumber store to the parking lot next to the river.
Morgantown Lock and Dam: From the downtown Morgantown end of the Route 19 bridge, go south on Route 119 for 0.7 mile to a parking area just past the Jeep dealer.
Uffington: From the Lock and Dam lot, continue south on Route 119 another 1.3 miles and bear right on Route 73 for 1.6 miles to the trail access road just past the Uffington public access lot.
7. Prickett’s Fort State Park
This park in Marion County just north of Fairmont at the junction of Prickett’s Creek and the Monongahela River contains a reconstructed colonial-era fort, which can be 6 toured for a fee. Over 190 species have been noted. The creek near the observation platform at the old boat ramp and the river itself are good for waterbirds with Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, and Belted Kingfisher being regularly seen most of the year, Green Heron in the warmer months, and others such as Gadwall, American Black Duck (and some hybrids with Mallards), Green-winged and Blue Winged Teals, Hooded Merganser, and Pied-billed Grebe in the cooler months when the creek is ice-free. Common Mergansers often winter on the river. During migration, Great Egret is sometimes seen, and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted, Solitary, and Least Sandpipers patronize the creek’s mudflats. The trail along the creek, the rail trail, and the wooded areas near the amphitheater and picnic area are good for landbirds, with Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, Warbling, and Red-eyed Vireos, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, and Barn Swallows, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Bluebird, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Hooded, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, and Yellow-throated Warblers, Chipping and White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Eastern Towhee, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, and American Goldfinch of particular note. Common Ravens nest on the abandoned railroad bridge over the river, while Red-shouldered and Red-tailed Hawks and Eastern Screech and Great Horned Owls have nested in the park. Osprey and Bald Eagle make occasional appearances.
From the junction of I-79 and I-68, take I-79 south to the second exit, Bunner Ridge Road. Turn right. At the stop sign turn left then make an immediate right onto Prickett’s Fort Road. Follow it a couple of miles to the park. There are three parking areas: the picnic area at the entrance to the park, which allows exploration of the picnic area, creek, and woods across the road, the rail trail parking lot across from the fort, and the boat ramp parking area at the bottom of the hill.
8. Upper Decker’s Creek Trail
The 19-mile long Decker’s Creek Trail is an abandoned railroad right-ofway stretching from McQuain Park in downtown Morgantown to east of Route 92 just south of Reedsville in Preston County. The stretch from the Monongahela River through the old mining towns just south of I-68 traverses mostly residential and commercial areas and has relatively few birds. The Upper Decker’s Creek area in Preston County from about a mile north of McKinney Cave Road around the west and south sides of Reedsville to about a mile east of Route 92 is the best area for birding—it is bordered by wetlands, small ponds, farm fields, and woods. Burke Road and the West Virginia University Reedsville Farm just off the trail are also good places to check. Among the more than 200 species seen along the trail, the most notable are Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Mallard, Hooded Merganser, Green Heron, Killdeer, Black and Turkey Vultures, Red-tailed Hawk, Killdeer, Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Kestrel, Willow Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Common Raven, Tree and Barn Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwing, Palm, Yellow-rumped, and Blackpoll Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, White-throated, White-crowned, Lincoln’s, Swamp, Song, and Fox Sparrows, Indigo Bunting, Eastern 7 Meadowlark, Red-winged and Rusty Blackbirds, Common Grackle, Orchard Oriole, Purple Finch, and American Goldfinch. Rarely, less common ducks such as Redhead, Ring-necked, and Greater Scaup, Greater White-fronted Goose, Northern Harrier, Sora, Greater Yellowlegs, Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed Gulls, Short-eared Owl, Marsh Wren, and Bobolink can be seen.
To reach the following areas from I-68 exit 4 in Sabraton, take Route 7 east 10.3 miles through Masontown to McKinney Cave Road.
McKinney Cave Road: Turn right (not sharp right) at the 10.3 mile mark and go 0.9 miles to the trail crossing just past the bridge.
Burke Road: Continue on Route 7 east another 0.8 mile and turn right onto unmarked Burke Road (opposite Sunny Hill Road), and go 0.9 mile to the trail crossing.
WVU Reedsville Farm: Continue another 1.4 miles east on Route 7, turn right onto Kingwood Pike, and go 1.0 mile to just past the trail crossing.
Route 92 parking area: Continue south on Route 92 past Kingwood Pike for 0.4 mile to the trail crossing.
9. West Virginia Botanic Garden
This hidden gem is primarily composed of an old mostly-dried up reservoir fed by streams through a small shrubby marsh and heavily forested areas. These are traversed by several miles of trails; the wetlands have a short boardwalk. Over 150 species have been seen. Most notable birds are Pileated and five other woodpeckers, Red-eyed and Blue-headed Vireos, Common Raven, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat, Nashville, Magnolia, and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Scarlet Tanager, Field, White-throated, and Song Sparrows, Eastern Towhee, and Dark-eyed Junco. Black and Turkey Vultures and several hawks are occasional flyovers. The old reservoir does not contain much water normally, but occasionally Mallard and Green-winged Teal are seen.
From I-68 exit 7, take Route 857 north (which is actually south of I-68 at this point) past the Pierpont Landing development 2.1 miles to Tyrone Road. Turn right and go 2.5 miles to the garden entrance on the left. Welcome center, restrooms, Information board, map and brochures just downhill from the parking lot.
10. West Virginia University Core Arboretum
This 91-acre showplace shines best in the spring when trees are just leafing out and wildflowers and shrubs are in bloom, but summer and fall are also very good. There are three miles of trails through the old-growth hillside and floodplain forests adjacent to the Monongahela River, plus the Caperton Trail which separates the two sections. Mountaineer Audubon conducts weekly bird walks for several weeks in April and May. Over 175 species have been tallied. Many warblers, Hermit and Swainson’s Thrushes, and many other species migrate through, while Canada Goose, several duck species, Great Blue Heron, Pied-billed Grebe, Belted Kingfisher, six kinds of woodpeckers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Acadian Flycatcher, White-eyed, Yellow-throated, Blue-headed, and Red-eyed Vireos, Northern Rough-winged and Barn Swallows, Carolina Wren, Brown Creeper, BlueGray Gnatcatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, Northern Parula, Yellowthroated Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Towhee, Chipping, Song, and White-throated 8 Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal, Indigo Bunting, and many other songbirds are seen in season.
From the intersection of Routes 19 and 705 at the West Virginia University basketball arena, go south on Route 19 for 0.2 mile, staying in the right lane, to the parking lot. When exiting, you can only go south on Route 19. To exit in other directions, park in the basketball arena parking lot. Information board, maps, and bird list at parking lot.
11. White Park
This 170-acre park on Morgantown’s south side, where over 125 species have been seen, contains five miles of trails in two separate sections of interest to birders. The section south of Mississippi Street west of the Morgantown Ice Arena contains a modest-sized reservoir where Canada Goose and Mallard breed; Great Blue and Green Herons, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, and Piedbilled Grebe have also been seen. The bordering forest is home to many woodpeckers, Eastern WoodPewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, and in fall and winter Yellow-rumped Warbler and Whitethroated Sparrow. The section north of the athletic fields along Hite Street also hosts Merlin, Yellowrumps, White-throats, and Dark-eyed Junco in fall and winter, and is home year-round to Redshouldered Hawk and common woodland birds such as woodpeckers, Carolina Wren, Eastern Bluebird, and Northern Cardinal.
From the downtown Morgantown end of the Route 19 bridge, go south on Route 119 for 1.9 miles to Route 857 (Green Bay Road), turn left and go 0.7 mile to M-Tec Drive, turn left and go 0.1 mile, turn left onto Mississippi Street and go 0.1 mile to East Parkway. For the southern section, continue on Mississippi 0.1 mile to the last entrance to the parking lot just past the ice arena; for the northern section turn right on East Parkway, then left on (unmarked) Hite Street to a parking lot across from the athletic fields.
Several other good birding locations within two hours of Morgantown include the following:
Cathedral State Park: Preston County, Route 50 east of Aurora, WV. Over 115 species. Noted for Barred Owl, Acadian and Least Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Goldencrowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Ovenbird, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, and Black-throated Green Warblers, and Dark-eyed Junco.
Cranesville Swamp: Preston County, Feather Road, Cranesville, WV. Over 150 species. The bog occasionally hosts Olive-sided and Alder Flycatchers, while Ruffed Grouse, Broad-winged Hawk, Blueheaded Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, and Black-throated Green Warblers, Swamp Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, and Rose-breasted Grosbeak are noteworthy. Northern Saw-whet Owl might be found in the pine forest before dawn.
Friendship Hill National Historical Site: Fayette County, PA, Route 166 north of Point Marion, PA. About 90 species, but very lightly birded. The home of Albert Gallatin, Treasury Secretary during the early 9 1800s, during the frontier era before he moved to New York City. Six species of woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Yellow-rumped and Yellow-throated Warblers, Dark-eyed Junco, and Indigo Bunting are highlights, but many less common species have been seen.
Mason and Dixon Historical Park: Monongalia County, Route 39 north of Route 7, Core, WV. Hosts a Purple Martin colony, and the trail along Dunkard Creek can be productive.
Pedlar Wildlife Management Area— Dixon Lake Unit: Monongalia County, Little Indian Creek Road south of Route 7, Core, WV. Over 130 species. The lake is a popular fishing area so there is seldom much on the lake. The wetlands and edge habitat past the gate at the end of the road are the most productive areas.
Pedlar Wildlife Management Area—Mason Lake Unit: Monongalia County, Route 7 west of Little Indian Creek Road, Core, WV. Over 95 species. The lake is a popular fishing area so there is seldom much on the lake, but the woods uphill from the lake along the road to the often-closed shooting range can be productive.
Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area: Barbour and Taylor Counties, south of Grafton, WV. The main wetland area is west of Routes 119/250 along Upper Pleasant Creek Road. Significant wetlands and a trail along Pleasant Creek lie to the east of the railroad trestle along Pleasant Creek Road east of Routes 119/250. Eventually that road will reach Doe Run Impoundment and the south end of Tygart Lake. Over 210 species patronize the extensive wetlands, woods, and fields. One of the best areas in northern West Virginia during migration for both waterbirds and passerines. Virtually every kind of waterfowl (28 species) and warbler (32 species) has been recorded. Other noteworthy birds include Great Egret, Osprey, Bald Eagle, American Coot, Killdeer, Least, Solitary, and Spotted Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Belted Kingfisher, Alder and Willow Flycatchers, Common Raven, and Lincoln‘s Sparrow. Rare visitors include Sora, Marsh Wren and Nelson’s Sparrow.
Snake Hill Wildlife Management Area: Monongalia County, Snake Hill Road south of Tyrone Road. Over 90 species. A lightly-birded higher-elevation area that is mostly wooded, but with several clearcut areas, and a large field. Eastern Whip-poor-will and American Woodcock are found here, plus 18 species of warblers.
Tygart Lake State Park: Taylor County, south of Route 119 south of Grafton, WV. 175 species, including the lake off the marina. Can be very good for waterbirds during the colder months with 27 species recorded. Common Loon, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes, Killdeer, and occasional sandpipers and gulls have been seen. The warbler count is 28 species.