Harper's Ferry National Historical Park, Jefferson Co., WV
Description: First established in 1944, today Harpers Ferry National Historical Park’s authorized boundary includes about 3,745 acres of important cultural sites and diverse habitats, including hardwood forests (80%), historic town lands, open and agricultural fields, wetlands and riparian areas, archaeological sites, historic structures, and cultural landscapes. Three other national parks pass through Harpers Ferry: a section of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, and the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
Murphy Farm – 99 acres. The open fields bordered by woods and the Shenandoah River offer a home to a large band of Northern Flickers, Eastern Meadowlarks (who sometimes winter over here) and various warblers and flycatchers. Migrating Blackpoll warblers in particular descend on the farm in good numbers in May. Louisiana Waterthrush breed along the stream beds, while Worm-eating warblers favor the wooded hillsides, and the Prairie Warbler the cedar grove. Bald Eagles are often seen soaring overhead or perched along the Shenandoah River below. Buteos and ravens are also frequent visitors over the fields.
Virginius Island/Shenandoah River and Wetlands area - The most prominent wetland in the Park is the 7-acre wetland adjacent to Shoreline Drive. Wood Ducks and other waterfowl favor the quiet waterways and canal of this Shenandoah River area in warm months. Green Herons, Warbling Vireos, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles return every spring here, too. Other regular visitors include Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Osprey and Red-shouldered Hawks, which nest on the island.
Nash Farm – 27 acres. Surrounded by wooded lots, the Nash Farmstead is situated on a grassy hill overlooking the Potomac River. Great for hawk migration in the fall: with perfect conditions, you can witness kettles of Broad-winged Hawks gather as they cross the river to continue south. Wood Thrushes and orioles populate the woods and field, respectively, in summer.
Bolivar Heights Battlefield – Best local spot for watching hawk migration in the fall. Ideal date is mid- to late September (September 19). Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers can be found in these woods year-round; Red-winged Blackbirds, Field Sparrows and Indigo Buntings return in spring to the fields. Eastern Meadowlarks breed here. This place is often teeming with Blue birds and Chipping Sparrows in summertime.
South Schoolhouse Ridge Battlefield – 176 acres. Well-maintained trails running through mixed habitat of fields bordered by trees, with woods leading down to Flowing Springs Run. Breeding birds include Blue Grosbeaks, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Grasshopper Sparrows, and Eastern Meadowlarks. Great place to find migrating sparrows and warblers in spring or fall.
North Schoolhouse Ridge Battlefield – 70 acres. Hayfields with stretches of great brushy habitat, perfect for breeding Yellow-breasted Chats, White-eyed Vireos, and Blue-winged Warblers. Blue Grosbeaks have also claimed these fields as their home. Large populations of Indigo Buntings in summer and of sparrows year-round. American Pipits and Horned Larks frequent the fields in wintertime.
C&O Canal towpath at Harpers Ferry - Orioles, flycatchers, warbling vireos and warblers are regularly seen and heard during the summer season. Bald Eagles nest along the Potomac here and can be seen year-round along with Common Ravens. Nice stretches for Great Blue Herons and several varieties of waterfowl, including Common Goldeneyes in winter. Twelve Peregrine falcons have been released on Maryland Heights since 2001, and are seen intermittently. To date, however, none of the released falcons has returned to the park to nest, and a lack of funding and staff has prevented the park from releasing any falcons since 2005.