Randy Yohe Published

State Park Bird Walk Alternative To Black Friday

Three people outside in winter clothing looking over a mountainside
Master Naturalist Laura Ceperley on a birdwatching hike
Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As an alternative to the indoor shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday, a movement called “#OptOutside” urges people to get closer to parks, trails, community areas and the joy of being outdoors.

WVPB’s Randy Yohe took full advantage of the Friday alternative, going on a Blackwater Falls State Park birding hike.

Before we left the lodgeI was dressed in layers for a cold woodland walk and beginning to perspire – Laura Ceperley gave some binocular tuning tips. A West Virginia master naturalist with a focus on birding, Ceperely finally got our small band of birders outside. 

We saw some crows right off the bat. Ceperley told the group her parents got her into birding at a young age, and as she got older, a casual hobby got more serious.

She told the group  that black-capped chickadees are plentiful in the Mountain State. Ceperley said what is most wonderful about wild and wonderful West Virginia’s bird population is its diversity.

“In the summer we have these beautiful birds that come back, some of which come all the way from Argentina,” Ceperley said. “Others just come from the southeast, so we have those. We have beautiful resident birds like the cardinal and the chickadees. And then in the winter, we get some birds from the north that we don’t see very often, including a lot of waterfowl.

Ceperly explained it’s not all about songs in bird identification, you need to pay attention to drums and chipping noises as well. She said there’s a birding app called Merlin that is a birdwatcher’s must.     

We meandered around the forest for about an hour, not seeing many birds, but getting a beak full of knowledge. Ceperly said you don’t have to be a committed devotee nowadays to enjoy birding. 

“It’s a lot more accessible now for people that don’t want to devote their life to it because there’s all these apps and uses of your phone that allow you to identify and understand birds in an easier way,” she said. “Then, you get outside and you meet some really nice people.”

I met some very nice people on this birding hike. I got outside, in a state park and am proud to say my lifelong streak of never shopping on Black Friday continued with a song, a drum and a chirp.