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South Dakota Birding"Hotspot"

Beaver Creek Nature Area

Photo Location #3 - Forested Trail

The aerial photo below shows the hiking trail loop that starts and ends at the T-intersection (and bench) in the "Brushy Meadow" (point 2).  The red line marks the hiking trail path.  As you head up from the brushy meadow on the northeastern corner of the loop, you'll reach a ridgeline bordered with mature Burr Oak.  As you follow the path around clockwise, you'll move along the edge of upland forest before hiking right into the heart of it.  I frankly always have better luck birding along a forest edge than within the forest interior itself.  Part of it is visibility, as it's much easier to spot birds along the forest edge.  However, there clearly are many species that prefer a forest edge to an unbroken forest interior. 

The entire path loop can be good for birding.  Along the southeastern side of the loop you may encounter kingbirds and other species that prefer more open areas, but the attraction of the loop itself are forest species.  I've seen more Eastern Screech Owls here than in any other place in South Dakota, including several "red phase" birds that are pretty rare around here compared to gray screech owls.  I've had the pleasure of being dive-bombed by a Cooper's Hawk on this loop when I obviously got too close to its hidden nesting location.  Amongst the forest clearings you'll find Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Wood-Pewees, Great Crested Flycatcher, and more.  I've never seen the variety of birds in the forest interior that you'll see along the forest edges, but this spot can be pretty reliable for many of these forest-dwelling species. 

The character of the path changes on the northwestern side of the loop.  The path moves downward from upland forest, to a lowland riparian forest.  In much of this area there's a nice understory, from which you'll often hearing singing Ovenbirds in the spring and early summer.  The path skirts the creek a bit before completing the loop back in the brushy meadow.

Beaver Creek Nature Area - Forested Trail


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

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