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12th annual Southern West Virginia Spring Eagle Survey and Winter Birding Weekend March 01-03, 2019

The Free Press WV

Eagles, birds of prey and winter bird watching are the focus of the 12th annual Spring Eagle Survey of the Bluestone/Pipestem area and Winter Birding Weekend March 01-03 at Pipestem Resort State Park. Registration is requested before February 28.

“The January survey recorded 58 eagle sightings during the four-hour survey period,” said Julie McQuade, naturalist at Pipestem Resort State Park. “The March survey could also result in a high number with volunteers scattered throughout the area monitoring eagle sightings and nests.”

The weekend includes additional programs. “Birding 101: Be Better at Bird Watching” is at 7 p.m. in the Cardinal Room at Pipestem’s McKeever Lodge. Instruction will be provided on how to use binoculars and tips and tricks to bird identification, field marking and field guide use. Discussion about the Saturday eagle survey, how it is organized and history of the surveys rounds out the evening.

The Eagle Survey begins Saturday at 10 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. Participants will gather at 9:15 a.m. and transportation will be provided to the survey site at The Pit Area of Bluestone Lake. The four-hour survey pairs professional birders with novice or beginning bird watchers and assigns them to survey observation sites to look for golden and bald eagles.

“This has become a special event in the Pipestem area and over the years we have recognized an increase in golden and bald eagle nests and sightings. We watch the skies snow, rain or shine,” said McQuade.

McQuade and others, including Jim Phillips, former Pipestem naturalist, organize the survey teams and leaders. Multiple sites are determined based on the number of people who confirm participation. Everyone is contacted in advance with instructions and the survey locations. When the survey concludes at 2 p.m., all teams meet in Hinton to compare and compile notes.

Saturday evening’s program is “Wings of Wonder – Birds of Prey” with Three Rivers Avian Center at 7 p.m. The program is free and open to the public. Staff will talk about the habitat, diet and behavior of each bird presented, the most common causes of injury to each species and the laws protecting them.

Special guests from the Bibbee Nature Club and from Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory Tower will be on hand during the Live Birds of Prey program to answer questions about migratory birds, birds of southern West Virginia, getting involved in Bibbee Nature Club hikes and activities, as well as how to find Hanging Rock Observatory and the best time to visit.

Sunday at 8:15 a.m., a winter bird walk with McQuade completes the birding weekend.

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