Bird Watching

Birds of Rocky Fork – Times Gazette

It is a popular destination for local residents and out-of-town tourists, but beyond that, Rocky Fork Lake in Highland County is also home to many and diverse varieties of birds, according to the Ohio Ornithological Society.

The Ohio Ornithological Society website said that “there is lots of boating, water skiing and other activities” during the summer months when the lake is busiest, so winter months are best for bird watching. According to its website, “The lake is not lowered in winter, so there is always plenty of water that never freezes completely.”

The website said that in its years of monitoring the diversity of the bird population in the region, they have included “about 135 species, but more are expected to be present” in the region.

Given the rich array of wildlife, Rocky Fork is notable in many online resources as a valuable location for bird watchers.

The great blue heron is a species of bird that frequents the lake.

The great blue heron calls the same location home year-round, according to the publication “Birds of North America,” published by the Smithsonian Institution. “The Great Blue Heron is a common inhabitant of North America,” according to the publication, which also refers to the wonder of watching its “majestic flight.” It stays above water waiting for opportunities to fish in the lake and “catch its prey with a quick flick of its beaks”. The great blue heron is mostly silent, except for a “snarling snout that barks when disturbed”.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife maintains relevant information for those interested in learning more about bird discovery. One of his useful resources that he makes available to the public is the cataloging of the different sounds made by birds. This is useful for birdwatchers because coveted glimpses of birds can be elusive, while their distinctive and unique sounds can announce their presence if they can be correctly identified as such. The Wildlife Division also maintains information on the best places for birding, including Rocky Fork Lake, as well as birding organizations so those interested can discuss the activity with d other persons affiliated with these interests. These include the regional Audubon societies in Ohio.

Representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said there are many other types of birds that predominate at the lakeshore.

This includes owls. Their “secret habits and fierce predatory behavior” make owls interesting and elusive, but “many people might be surprised at how common owls are,” including at the lake. “All it takes is a bit of knowledge” to access them, “but the effort is worth it” because these resident birds of Ohio “are among our most fascinating birds to observe and hear”, in more to be “among our most charismatic birds.

Almost every year, birds not common to the lake appear in its waters anyway.

The Ohio Ornithological Society has described various spots on the lake that are best for birdwatchers, such as a pond that has ducks in the winter as well as parking lots and fields frequented by birds.

Juliane Cartaino is a freelance writer for The Times-Gazette.

A great blue heron, pictured here at Rocky Fork Lake’s North Beach last month, is one of many bird species that call the lake home year-round.

North Beach at Rocky Fork Lake is pictured as it appeared last month. When the weather cools and fewer people frequent the lake, it’s a better time for birdwatchers.

Winter months that are good for birding