Wildlife and Plant Species

Wood duck (Aix sponsa) is one of the most colorful of North American waterfowl.  The adult male has distinctive multicolored iridescent plumage, while the   less colorful female has a white eye-ring and a whitish throat. Both adults have crested heads.  The male's call is a rising whistle, "jeeeeee"; the females utter a drawn-out, rising squeal, "oo-eek," when flushed, and a sharp "cr-r-ek, cr-e-ek" for an alarm call.


Wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) is only found in North America and a species of special concern in West Virginia.  The top shell is rough, and each large scute supports an irregular pyramid formed by a series of concentric growth ridges. Wood turtles are semi-aquatic, and prefer streamside habitats, marshes, wet meadows, and forest edges. Wood turtles are dependent on good stream health and excellent water quality. When waterways harboring turtles become degraded, wood turtles lose their over wintering habitat, foraging grounds, and preferred breeding habitat.  


Northern river otter (Lutra canadensis), the largest member of the weasel family, is a thickset mammal with short legs, a neck no smaller than its head and webbed hind feet.  River otters were extirpated in the state by the 1950’s due to pollution and unregulated trapping.  In the 1980’s, West Virginia began one of the first successful river otter reintroduction programs.  River otters are often blamed for the depletion of game fish, but this is not true.  Food-habit studies have all indicated that the bulk of the Northern River Otter diet consists of nongame fish species.  In many circumstances river otters, are beneficial to game fish populations because they remove nongame fish that would otherwise compete  for food.


Smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu) is a non-native species in the sunfish family and is very popular with game fish anglers.  The smallmouth prefers cooler water temperatures than its cousin the largemouth bass, and may be found in both still and moving water. Because it is intolerant of pollution, the smallmouth bass is a good natural indicator of a healthy environment.


Eastern Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are the only trout native to much of the eastern United States.  Arguably the most beautiful freshwater fish, brook trout survive in only the coldest and cleanest water.  The mid- Atlantic region has experienced the largest decline in brook trout populations, and they are now found only in scattered headwater streams.  Brook trout. have a distinctive sprinkling of red dots, surrounded by blue haloes, along their flank. The belly and lower fins are reddish in color.


Cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) is a deciduous herbaceous plant which produces separate fertile and sterile fronds. The fertile spore-bearing fronds are erect  and become cinnamon-colored as the season progresses, which gives the species its name. Cinnamon ferns often grow in clumps and are very valuable to the ecosystem. They provide cover and shelter to many small animals, such as squirrels, birds, snakes, and insects.


Eastern Red columbine or Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is a herbaceous perennial native to woodland and rocky slopes in eastern North America. Leaves are lobed and grouped in 3s. Flowers are 1-2 inches long and have red petals with a red spur and yellow sepals. They appear in late spring, nodding on stems above the leaves. The round end of the spur contains nectar, which is sought by butterflies and hummingbirds.




Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) is a patch-forming understory tree reaching heights of 35 feet with large simple leaves and large fruits.  The largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States, pawpaws have a sweet, custardish flavor somewhat similar to banana, or a mango.  Fresh fruits of the pawpaw are commonly eaten raw but they will not keep long.(2–3 days, or one week if refrigerated).