Park official on hawk-watch: 'It can be breathtaking'

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

This weekend at York County parks, birds and trees will be the stars of the show.

From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Oct. 6, the York County Parks will host the first of four October hawk-watch events at Rocky Ridge County Park.

Andrew Wolfgang, a park naturalist with the county, said as many as 14 types of hawks can be seen flying through the area on a given day.

"If you're there at the right time, it can be breathtaking," he said. "It can be amazing just to see birds like that coming past you in such large numbers."

Wolfgang said some birds of prey are so large, they can be seen from 2 to 3 miles away with binoculars. Hawk-watching does take patience, he added, and observers are not likely to see much if they're only passing through the event for 20 minutes. 

A hawk that spent a month with an arrow through its body was released Wednesday, April 13, 2016, just days after being treated. Look for migrating hawks during the Broad-winged Hawk Watch at Rocky Ridge County Park Sept. 23.
Photo by Bil Bowden

He described the hobby as a sort of "Where's Waldo" in the sky. The hawks can be difficult to spot, but the enthusiasts' patience is rewarded as soon as the birds come into view.

The hawk-watch events will repeat from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 13, 20, and 27 at Rocky Ridge County Park. Admission is free, and no registration is required. Attendees should park in the Oak Timbers parking lot and walk to the North Overlook.

More:PHOTOS: Woods Wander Program at Rocky Ridge Park

More:PHOTOS: Children's Bird Count

Fall Birds: An alternative bird-watching event is the Fall Birds Nature Walk, which will be held from 2:30 to 4 p.m on Sunday, Oct. 7, at Richard M. Nixon County Park.

Wolfgang said Fall Birds is a more active event than the hawk watch. Participants will walk into the woods, with Wolfgang as a guide, for up-close observation of migratory birds making foraging pit-stops in York County. The walk is suitable for ages 10 and up.

The Fall Birds Nature Walk also is free, with no registration required. Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather for both events and to bring field guides and binoculars if they have them.

A red-tailed hawk on the mend from being shot by an arrow was released April 13, 2016, at Rocky Ridge County Park.
Photo by Bil Bowden

A small number of loaner binoculars will be available.

Plant trees: Also this weekend, county residents will have two opportunities to plant trees.

From 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at Richard M. Nixon County Park, volunteers can help plant trees in the forest.

The trees are being planted to add nectar and pollen plants for butterflies and other native pollinators, the park said in a news release.

There is no fee, and registration is only requested for groups with more than seven people. Attendees are asked to bring work gloves and to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and sneakers or hiking shoes.

Participants can drop in for a few minutes or stay for the entire event.

For more information about any of the events, visit