DAVIS, W. Va., May 4, 2016 – The 10th-annual Canaan Valley Birding Festival at Canaan Valley Resort in West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains is set for Thursday – Sunday, June 2 – 5, and if participants want to beat last year’s record-shattering results they will need to spot more than 125 bird species and 31 butterfly species. That’s how many species the 2015 participants reported seeing while participating in the festival’s nature walks and other events. This year’s festival theme is “We Love Our Birds.”
Situated on the northeastern edge of the Monongahela Forest and adjacent to the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Canaan Valley’s diverse landscape – a high-elevation boreal habitat, hardwood and spruce forests, grasslands and wetlands – creates an especially appealing environment for breeding birds. During last year’s festival, participants spotted numerous neotropical birds such as Bobolinks, Scarlet tanagers, Baltimore and Orchard orioles, Vesper, Swamp, Clay-colored and Henslow Sparrows, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow, Chestnut-sided and Black-throated Green Warblers.
Staged by Canaan Valley Resort, the festival includes a line-up of interpretive walks throughout the region and special nightly presentations at the main lodge.
“This is one of the best times of the year for nature-lovers to immerse themselves in the bounty and beauty of the Canaan Valley, including its abundant birds and butterflies as well as the natural beauty of its forests, mountains, wetlands and grasslands,” said Steve Drumheller, general manager of Canaan Valley Resort, a recently renovated state park lodge. “We have gathered some of the finest naturalists of the region to share the glory of this wild and wonderful region with our visitors.”
Sponsors – The festival is sponsored by Canaan Valley Resort which serves as the primary staging spot for most events, Tucker County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Blackwater Falls State Park, The Nature Conservancy, the West Virginia Master Naturalist Program, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the West Virginia Fish & Wildlife Service and Friends of the 500th, a non-profit organization that provides support to the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the 500th national wildlife refuge in the country.
Registration packages – Participants should register for the festival as soon as possible to ensure their top activity picks. There are two ways to register. Canaan Valley Resort is offering an all-inclusive lodging package that includes registration, accommodations and most meals. Guests with more limited time can choose the non-lodging guest package. The two- and three-night lodging packages includes festival registration, all interpretive bird walks and workshops, accommodations, daily breakfasts and lunches, one reception, one dinner and privileges at the resort’s Beech Club. The two-night package starts at $287 per person, and the three-night package begins at $386 per person. Participants may also register for one-day entrance. Fees range from $45 to $149, depending on the day and the events.
What to bring and wear – Participants should bring their own binoculars and wear good waterproof walking shoes or hiking boots, a jacket and extra layers, water bottle, sunscreen and snacks. Some trails pass through wetlands and streams, and participants should expect to encounter a broad range of weather conditions and temperatures.
Ratings – The nature walks and other events are rated on a difficulty level ranging from one (easiest) to four (most difficult). Registrants should pay particular attention to the detailed description of each event so they can select activities that are most appropriate for their fitness levels.
Festival directors have developed a line-up of three keynote speakers and 15 bird walk leaders, including many authors, teachers and scientists. Visit the Canaan Valley Resort website for a complete lineup of events and bios of experts.
The events begin at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 2 with an “Early Festival Nature and Bird Walk” along trails in the state park and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. That evening, keynote speaker Kevin Dodge will offer a post-dinner presentation, “Night Sounds of the Appalachians,” which is followed by a guided evening walk for guests to practice their listening skills in the hopes of hearing animals, birds, insects and amphibians.
Participants have more than 20 full- and half-day walk options on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Participants are encouraged to car-pool to walk starting points.
Examples on Friday include “Seneca Rocks and the South Branch of the Potomac,” “Camp 70, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge,” “Bobolinks and Warblers,” and “Canaan Birds for Beginners.”
Sessions on Saturday include “Sparrows of West Virginia,” from 5:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.; “Spruce Knob and Spruce Knob Lake,” “Learning Bird Songs” and “Dolly Sods and Warblers’ Song.”
On Sunday, choices include “Floor to Ceiling: Forest Road 80,” “Stop, Look and Listen,” “Beall Tract – Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge” and “Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area North of Camp 70 Road.”
For questions or more details, call (304) 800-622-4121, ext. 2788.
Canaan Valley Resort is located in north central West Virginia approximately three hours from Pittsburgh, 2½ hours from Washington, D.C. and 2¾ hours from Charleston, W. Va.
The resort recently completed a massive two-year, $34 million renovation and new construction project that included construction of two wings featuring 160 guest rooms as well as renovation of public areas including the main lodge, gift shop and grab-and-go-café. All rooms feature oversized bathrooms, flat-screen televisions and in-room refrigerators.
Canaan Valley Resort in Canaan Valley Resort State Park is a four-season destination resort situated in a 15-mile-long valley in West Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains. The resort features 160 new lodge rooms as well as 23 cabins and cottages, 34 campsites, three restaurants, 25,000 square feet of meeting space, fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, full-service ski area with features for families as well as advanced skiers, 18-hole championship golf course, arcade, spa, kids camp, sporting clays, climbing wall, hiking and biking trails and an array of other recreational offerings. For more information, visit the website or call 1-800-622-4121.
Mesereau Public Relations