Birder Chatter

The Festival is our favorite week of the year! We may be biased, but we're not alone. Scroll through the Birder Chatter below to see what some very cool people are saying about it.


"I can't wait to come back!" - First Time Visitor

"I always hate to leave the festival. It's really a magical experience for me every time. I became a birder here and each time I come I get more experience and knowledge to help me improve for the next time. The area is absolutely beautiful. I really liked seeing the kids who have benefited from us in some small way - I like the idea that we give a little something to the area. I don't come to get specific birds - the joy is in going out and looking and finding. The absolute best part of the festival is the people: Geoff, Keith, Rachel, Dave and Lynn, all the wonderful guides, and almost all the people who come. I am always amazed at the friends I have made. I am a different person at New River. Birding has enriched my life." - Kelly B.

"Everything was awe inspiring!" - Mary Donnellan

"BEST hosts! Best guides - great presenters - great beer - good food - beautiful birds - FUN!" - Repeat Visitor

"The people, both the other guests and all the staff, the knowledge of all the staff and speakers, the venue, the organization, the food, the programming organization and variety, the accommodations. I loved it all, but the staff/guest ratio was superb! There was not a thing I did not like." - First Time Visitor

"The people, organizers, leaders, and participants are all terrific. It's like being part of a family. The venues are all beautiful, even in the cold rain." - Repeat Visitor

"This is a very special festival; the geography, the flora and fauna, the guides, the hosts, and the accommodations make for a wonderful experience." - Repeat Visitor

"I had a wonderful time and was able to relax, laugh, learn, and connect with great people. NRBNF feels like a family reunion (the good kind, mostly)." - Repeat Visitor

"Came the first time for the birds, came the next 2 times for the friendships we made at NRBNF and knowing we would have quality time and quality looks at some really special birds in beautiful and unique habitats. We already have it on our calendar for 2017." - Helen & Gary, SC


"NRBNF is a wonderful event. The week just flies by for me. Everyday there is something new to see and learn. The guides are so knowledgeable and so willing to share what they know. The team that puts the event together does an excellent job. It is very well organized. Since so many of us come back every year or every other year, we get to renew old acquaintances like a class reunion, and we are able to make more new friends as well. ... I would be ready to start the whole week over again on Monday. It was that much fun." - Mary Ellen Heisey, PA

"We appreciate all the work and coordination that went into putting on a top notch event. we may not come every year, but we do look forward to coming again. Not only good birding, but good camaraderie and we learned alot." - Chuck & Barbara Vellios, KY

"This was our sixth straight year at NRBNF and we don't intend to stop coming. The guides are some of the best in the country. I continue to become a better birder from all that I learn from the guides every year." - Tom Heisey, PA

"The mountains of West Virginia are a wonderful, magical place, full of wonderful birds. The NRBNF takes full advantage of this with fantastic trip leaders who know where and how to go find them!" - Repeat Visitor

"Excellent, knowledgeable guides. Very patient. Excellent presentations of various nature as well as birding topics. Would highly recommend this event to any birder, experienced or not." - Repeat Visitor

"The guides were top notch--professional, fun, knowledgeable, patient, and personable." - Repeat Visitor


"This festival - which I discovered in 2013 and have attended for four years - is a (the?) major highlight of my year. I don't think I can live without it now that I've found it. Seriously - SO much fun." - Repeat Visitor

"If you have never attended a birding festival - this should be your first. If you have attended other birding festivals - you need to try this one; its the best and friendliest." - Repeat Visitor

"I had SUCH a good time! I will be back!" - Marcy Logan

"For someone who had not been on a bird trip before, I think this is a great place to start. The guides and other attendees picked up on my being a rookie right away and were most helpful. I learned a tremendous amount and am looking forward to another trip to practice those warbler skills! Let's hope the neck holds out!" - First Time Visitor 2016

"We have attended several birding festivals in previous years, and we have taken three Road Scholar trips specifically for birding. This festival was the most fun overall that we have attended. It truly did feel like a family reunion--without the obnoxious relatives!" - First Time Visitor

"As a first time visitor, the festival far exceeded my expectations. Met a lot of wonderful people, both organizers and fellow birders. I will definitely come again." - First Time Visitor 2016


"Welcomes new birders, challenges repeat participants to hear and observe large numbers of neotropical migrators and offers the long-time birder an opportunity to discuss habitats, migratory patterns and bird behavior with renowned experts." - Repeat Visitor

"New River Birding and Nature Festival has it all - great birding, warm hospitality, a beautiful setting." - Repeat Visitor

"We have gone to NRBNF for the last 5 years and plan to continue in the future. The Guides are EXCELLENT and the ratio of guides to participants is amazing. Several trips were 3 or 4 people per guide. Guides and participants are friendly and eager to help one another see and hear the birds. We recommend this trip for beginners as well as seasoned birders. It is an opportunity for people living in the western United States to see the eastern warblers and songbirds. The afternoon and evening talks are informative and interesting. We always learn something. The meals are great and include healthy alternatives. The leadership team of Dave, Rachel, Geoff, and Keith make this event seem like it runs effortlessly, but behind the scenes, their careful attention to all the details and to the well being of all their guests is incredible. Thank you!" - Mary Ellen & Tom, 2015

"The guides on all of the trips we took this year and last were just amazing: nice, knowledgeable, fun, helpful, attentive, plenty of spotting scopes, definitely tried very hard to give the best experience possible.” - Repeat Visitor

"Talking over dinner one night we were discussing birding bucket lists and the number of returnees and familiar faces. We joked the motto should be: Your birding bucket list will change from 'Attend NRBNF' to 'Go back to NRBNF.'" - Erik Bruder, Bay Village, OH

"LOVE this festival from the first moment to the last! Not to mention the extraordinary hosts!" - Visitor


"Don't change a thing... love the small size of the festival. We felt like family from day one." - First Time Visitor

"I have nothing to compare you to, but I think you're the best birding/nature festival out there. HA!" - Repeat Visitor

"I thoroughly enjoyed the Festival. The key for me was that we were very quickly made to feel like we were part of the family. The focus was for everyone to have a good time. The leaders were excellent! I think what you're doing for the community and the kids is outstanding!" - Warren Cairo, Cape May, NJ

"I think you should keep your festival a secret...! Just kidding, of course - I'm sure glad I heard about it for 2015!" - Carol Daugherty, Rockville, MD

"Bird watching is gaining popularity in West Virginia due to the state's ecological diversity. Watch as a hummingbird is banded and released during the annual festival," New River Birding and Nature Festival, produced by Marta Ree Tankersley for WVSU Newsline/WV PBS *watch on YouTube

"...if you want to start spring off with a bang, make this scene. The festival has no peer when it comes to beauty of the scenery, biological diversity, and quality of the guides and speakers. ... There are NO bad field trips, and whether you attend for part of the week, or the entire week, you'll end up with an impressive species list." - Jim McCormac *go to Jim's blog


"This is a great festival. One of our very favorites. ... Wherever you go, it drips with birds." - Julie Zickefoose *go to Julie's blog

"There are plenty-plenty reasons why I love this annual spring birding bacchanalia: it's run by good buddies of mine, the birding is truly incredible, Swainson's and cerulean warblers, the landscape is breathtaking, it's a small and intimate gathering of the tribe, they let me play music, there are hottubs in the cabins, and it's only a three-hour drive from the Bill of the Birds man cave." - Bill Thompson, III *go to Bill's blog

"I’m telling you, these West Virginia folks know about hospitality. You can register online now, dream about warblers all winter, and then be New River-bound next April. How’s that for a plan?" - Nina Cheney, Eagle Optics *go to Eagle Optics blog

"I can’t think of a better place to be in early spring!" - Mark Garland *go to Mark's website

"Crossing this [New River Gorge] bridge marked the beginning of what turned out to be one of the most challenging, unique and fun-filled nature vacations I've ever experienced." - Vickie Henderson *go to Vickie's blog

"I've never been to a birding festival before, but I think the bar has now been set pretty high for any future bird outings that I might go to. They really take care of you at the New River Festival. For one thing, having your meals provided for you is a huge convenience that I didn't appreciate until I came home and realized that I had to go back to fixing my own meals." - Heather, 2011 *go to Heather's blog


"Total birds seen by the whole group for the week was 148 different species. Ferd and I saw 60 different kinds alone." - Gail *go to Gail's blog

"Struck by wonderful hospitality, enthusiastic participants high school through adult, and a dazzling assortment of spring Neotropical migrant birds, we've been back every spring since that first year [2002] to lecture, lead field trips, and band birds..." - Dr. Bill Hilton Jr. *go to Bill's website

"... images... of perfect roadside wildflowers, of rivers rushing across bared toes, of ghost towns nestled in the mountains, weathered barns along the way, of impossible to photograph birds, memories of twisty country roads, lush hillsides and scenic saw mills, the laughter of an impossible-to-imagine mix of friends..." - Laura *go to Laura's blog

"It's hard sometimes to really convey the wonderment of this place [Muddlety]. It's not only birdy, it's also full of butterflies and very cool flora, and if you're lucky you might get a bear." - Susan

"The birding was fabulous- twenty-eight lifers for me!" - Lynne

"It’s fun meeting up with several people we met here last year who also decided to return. And no wonder we are all back here, as it is one of the premier birding events in the country." - Ferd *go to Ferd's blog

"If you have never been to this part of the world and you love looking at birds and all things nature... you must check out the New River Birding and Nature Festival." - Dawn