"This forest has a very diverse bird population," she said. "We have everything from warblers and cuckoos to crows and barred owls. One time, sitting just outside the forest's office, I was able to identify the calls of 29 different bird species."
Though her naturalist job entails much more than just bird study, Miller has made it a principal focus of her duties. News releases put out by the state Division of Natural Resources promote her weekly birding forays as "nature programs with your local Bird Nerd at Kanawha State Forest."
Every Saturday at 9 a.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Miller meets up with would-be nature enthusiasts for a morning's worth of bird watching. Some days she assigns themes to the walks. This Saturday's program, for example, will focus on members of the flycatcher family.
Most people who show up for the hikes are nature novices, and Miller sometimes modifies her chosen program to accommodate her audience's needs.
"I gauge the crowd first, and if it's beginners, I kind of play things by ear," she said. "The idea is to get people interested in nature. Birding is great for that because birds are everywhere. People who go on bird walks at the forest can find some of those same birds wherever they live."
Miller said her Friday activities at the forest aren't nearly as bird-specific.
"I set up a 'mobile nature center' beside the forest office between noon and 4 p.m.," she said. "I bring an extra table and set it up with lots of different animal artifacts for people to touch and feel. I also bring things for them to read. Eventually we're going to build an 'interpretive corner,' with signs identifying the different trees, a few birds feeders and things like that."
Information on Miller's upcoming programs can be obtained by calling the Kanawha State Forest office at 304-558-3500.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.