Walking the WAG Trail: Take a stroll through a birdwatchers heaven


Meet some of the birds you are likely to meet, or already know well, along the Genny

By Andrew Harris, pictured is a Bald Eagle by Mel Hunt

The biodiversity of the upper Genesee River, especially from Wellsville to Gold, Pennsylvania is mindboggling. Even in the dead of winter, the WAG offers a chance to see many different resident birds, from Bald Eagles to Pileated Woodpeckers to curious Chickadees. April brings dozens more species to the trail, some stay for the season, some just passing through.

Whether you aspire to being more “birdy” or if you are local bird guru Frederic Beaudry trying to get a listen to a rare warbler, the WAG offers opportunity for all ranges of bird appreciation.

Beginners, future birdwatchers, casual bird observers: Just actively watching for birds changes everything.

Then you ask, “hey what was that ?”

On any given mile of the WAG trail, depending on the time of year that question could come up alot. By just asking that question and finding the answer you have started your “bird list.” We birdy people all have one, not always in writing, and for every bird you add to that lifetime list, you celebrate.

Here are some of the birds you may not know that are both easy to identify and love the areas along the WAG.

Osprey, photo by Mel Hunt

This migratory fish hawk arrives on the WAG each mid-April and several mating pairs patrol the river along the WAG all day long. Look for the angled wings designed for high-speed dives into the water. You can often hear their cries, listen here.

Read our previous reporting on these majestic birds

Brown Thrasher, photo by Dan Jordan

The roadrunner of the WAG trail. These lovely singers can be heard and seen from May until October. They often will run or fly across the trail in front of walkers. Look for the rust brown coloration and listen for these amazing songs.

Read Dan Jordan’s take on one of his favorite backyard birds

Hooded Merganser, photo by Mel Hunt

These dashing fisheaters have become a fairly common sight in local waters. They nest in trees up and down the Genesee River. They don’t make much noise but they put on a nice show while running on the water during takeoff.

Blackburnian Warbler, photo by Mel Hunt

The photographer introduced me to this bird in 2022 on a remote section of the WAG. One of about a dozen warblers that can be found on the WAG, this bird is a challenge for experts to locate. Perhaps you’ll get lucky, listen for this call.

Belted Kingfisher, by Dan Jordan

Not a very big bird but this kingfisher has a big voice and is fun to watch. Their call can make the riverbottom sound like a jungle and to watch them hunt is a splash. Typically they wait on a tree limb above for the perfect chance to dive into the water like a torpedo!

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