Flying South for the Winter

Southern WV’s high elevations and low valleys make for perfect places to birdwatch – especially this time of year when lots of northern birds are passing through on their way south for the winter.

One of the greatest spots for watching all that air traffic is the Hanging Rock Raptor

Hanging Rock Observatory Tower

Observatory Tower in Monroe County.

At Hanging Rock, you’ll have a chance to view lots of different raptors – hawks, falcons, eagles, and owls.  Just last week, 126 sightings of bald eagles were recorded, a record sighting for one day.

Why are there so many bird sightings here?  Peters Mountain’s dominate ridge runs northeast to southwest, the same route the birds take and the funnel effect of the mountains create great updrafts so that the birds don’t have to exhaust as much energy as they migrate on toward warmer temperatures.

A little rusty on your bird identification?  No worries.  A visit to the Tower on any day of the week during fall will be met with two or three die-hard birders who are camped out for the day watching and counting the birds.

Insider’s Tip:  Plan to make a trip to Hanging Rock before mid November to ensure you catch a glimpse of the migration and don’t forget your binoculars.  After all, when was the last time you saw a bald eagle in the wild?

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