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South Dakota Birding"Hotspot"

Beaver Creek Nature Area

Photo Location #2 - Brushy Meadow

Just south of the suspension bridge area, the hiking trail enters a large open area.  Once this area was grassland, but over the years many small trees have sprouted. It's still rather open, but the scattered small trees give it the feel of a "Brushy Meadow" (hence my name for the spot!).  Bordered by both the creek and mature forest, it does seem to be a location that many birds move through.  It's one of my favorite spots to look for cuckoos.  Black-billed Cuckoos love caterpillars, and there are often tent caterpillars on the small trees in this area.  I've never found a spot where I can consistently find cuckoos, but this location is definitely the closest. 

Field Sparrows abound in this spot (a change from the more open days, when Grasshopper Sparrows were more often found here).  Ring-necked Pheasants use the spot, and it's a spot where I once saw Northern Bobwhite.  Migrating songbirds often seen to move through this location in the spring.  The openness of the area gives you good looks at the variety of raptors that might be passing overhead.

As the path moves southward through the brushy meadow, the path hits a T-intersection, with a bench located here. The path to the left heads eastward, up towards the top of a ridgeline.  At the top the path starts to enter mature forest.  Old, mature Burr Oaks dominate the forest along the ridge, with a steep slope downward to the creek on the other side.  This particular location, the ridgeline Burr Oaks at the top of the Brushy Meadow, may be my favorite springtime birding location.  Because of the topography, as you stand here you're almost at canopy level with the Burr Oaks.  Given the location along the creek, in spring you could almost spend an entire day just standing in that location to bird.  There have been many times where you'll just watch as wave after wave of springtime migrant moves through the canopy.  It can be particularly good around mid-May, when the warblers are moving through.  During the summer breeding season it's not quite as spectacular, but it's still a great spot to look for eastern forest birds like Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, and Scarlet Tanagers.

Beaver Creek Nature Area - Brushy Meadow Area


Keep your eyes out for migrating warblers here in the never know what species you might see.

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