Birds of Rocky Fork


Winter months apt opportunity for bird watching

By Juliane Cartaino - For The Times-Gazette



A Great Blue Heron, pictured here at Rocky Fork Lake’s North Beach last month, is one of many species of birds that inhabit the lake throughout the year.

A Great Blue Heron, pictured here at Rocky Fork Lake’s North Beach last month, is one of many species of birds that inhabit the lake throughout the year.


Juliane Cartaino | For The Times-Gazette

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


Juliane Cartaino | For The Times-Gazette

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

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

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

Given the rich panoply of wildlife, Rocky Fork is noteworthy in many online resources as a valuable location for birdwatchers.

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

The great blue heron makes its home in one place throughout the year, 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 references the wonder of observing its, “majestic flight.” It stays atop water waiting for opportunities to fish from the lake and, “catches prey with a quick jab of its bills.” The great blue heron is mostly silent with the exception of, “a loud, barking squawk when it is disturbed.”

The Ohio Division of Wildlife maintains information relevant to people interested in learning more about discovering birds. One of its useful resources that it makes available to the public is cataloging the various sounds made by birds. This is helpful to birdwatchers as the coveted glimpses of birds can be elusive, while their distinctive and unique sounds can announce their presence if they can be properly identified as such. The Division of Wildlife likewise maintains information on the best places for bird watching, with Rocky Fork Lake is included, as well as organizations for bird watching so interested people can discuss the avocation with others who affiliate with those interests. These include regional Audubon Societies throughout Ohio.

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

This includes owls. Their, “secretive 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. “It just takes a bit of knowledge” to get access to them, “but the effort is worthwhile” because these Ohio bird residents, “are among our most fascinating birds to watch and hear,” as well as being, “among our most charismatic birds.”

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

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

Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.

A Great Blue Heron, pictured here at Rocky Fork Lake’s North Beach last month, is one of many species of birds that inhabit the lake throughout the year.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/11/web1_RFL-ic-1.jpgA Great Blue Heron, pictured here at Rocky Fork Lake’s North Beach last month, is one of many species of birds that inhabit the lake throughout the year. Juliane Cartaino | For The Times-Gazette

North Beach at Rocky Fork Lake is pictured as it appeared last month. When the weather turns colder and fewer people frequent the lake, it is a better time for birdwatchers.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/11/web1_RFL-pic-2.jpgNorth Beach at Rocky Fork Lake is pictured as it appeared last month. When the weather turns colder and fewer people frequent the lake, it is a better time for birdwatchers. Juliane Cartaino | For The Times-Gazette
Winter months apt opportunity for bird watching

By Juliane Cartaino

For The Times-Gazette