story and photos by Melissa McMasters, Director of Communications, Overton Park Conservancy
(Pictured above Northern Cardinals enjoy southern environments, too. This guy seems to be singing its praises. You don’t have to get too close to know a bird’s gender; the brighter the bird, the more likely it is to be male.)
No room for pets at home, but love spending time among the animals? Overton Park, and especially the Old Forest State Natural Area, is home to everything from foxes to squirrels to tiny lizards. But it’s perhaps best known as a haven for birds.
With nearly 200 species recorded in the park, Overton Park is home to birds both large (think birds of prey like Barred Owls and Red-tailed Hawks) and small (Ruby- throated Hummingbirds and White-throated Sparrows). It really comes alive in April and May, when dozens of species of colorful warblers use the Old Forest as a stopover on their northern migration.
This past April, Overton Park Conservancy staff raised money to remove harmful invasive plant species (think Privet) from the forest with its Bucks for Birds program, in which donors pledged a dollar for each bird species photographed.
You can see photos of all 54 species at overtonpark.org/ category/bucks-for-birds.
Interested in learning more about the birds you encounter in the forest? The Conservancy has developed an interactive online field guide where you can browse birds or search by characteristics like size, color, and season. Check it out at inaturalist.org/guides/3776.
An unfazed Barred Owl watches as his photo is taken. He and his species stay in the Old Forest year round. Barred Owls have a distinctive hoot, and have been known to answer when humans imitate them. To hear the sound of a Barred Owl, go to youtube.com/watch?v=NtRPYpklhiA.
Above, Indigo Buntings come to the Old Forest in the spring when they breed. Buntings stay here through the fall.
Above, a Hooded Warbler passes through the Old Forest for a few weeks during migration. If you see a yellow
bird in the Old Forest, chances are it’s some type of warbler.
Above, the Summer Tanager looks much like the Northern Cardinal, but without the Cardinal’s cap/mitre/crest
on its head.