From the tiny, flitting beauty of the ruby-throated hummingbird to the slender and stoic majesty great blue herons, it can be a birdwatcher’s paradise in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Designated an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, the park’s wide variety of habitats attracts almost 250 bird species to its environs throughout the year, though spring and summer display the avian rainbow at its fullest.
The grassland habitat has become a nesting home for several species of sparrow, meadowlark and bobolink, renewing a once shrinking habitat and offering new breeding grounds. Offering a wholly different environment, the sandstone ledges and the cool, forested grounds of the Virginia Kendall area of the park are at their bird-watching peak in the late spring, attracting solitary vireos, hermit thrushes and black-throated green warblers.
The park’s wetlands and riverside habitats welcome dozens of species of duck and shorebirds, including a thriving great blue heron population, with a trio of nesting areas either within the park or adjacent to its boundaries. Although these majestic birds were rarely seen in the park before the 1980s, they now build hundreds of nests in a pair of zones along the river north of Route 82 and just south of Bath Road.
Breathtaking birds of prey also spend parts of spring and summer in the valley, including red-shouldered hawks, peregrine falcons, and iconic bald eagles, which have, over the past five years, become a regular – though no less impressive – sight in the park. Since 2007, in fact, a pair of bald eagles has raised eaglets within the park, and the population is expected to grow.
Bring your binoculars and keep your ears open–bird season in the Cuyahoga Valley is like no place else. – Submitted by John Booth, guest blogger