Steuben County has long been recognized for year-round recreational activities and birdwatching, or birding, is gaining in popularity.

Pokagon State Park, with its 1,260 acres and the adjacent 200-acre Trine State Recreation Area, is home to a multitude of habitats, including rolling prairies, wetlands, lakefronts and woodlands.

Pokagon has a Sunday morning tradition where an interpretive naturalist leads a bird hike. All ages are encouraged to participate, regardless of birding experience. The park provides binoculars if you don’t have your own. The naturalist carry field guides or use cellphone applications to help identify birds and other natural wonders that capture your interest such as plants and wildlife.

grosbeakIf you are unable to attend the scheduled Sunday morning hike, come out and hike on your own. From the Potawatomi Inn, take Trail 3 to Lake Lonidaw where you might glimpse a Great Blue Heron stalking some prey or hear a red-winged blackbird call from its cattail perch.

Trail 2 offers a break at the Spring Shelter. Enjoy a refreshing drink of water from the natural spring found there. Continue through the woods scanning the trees for some of our colorful summer residents like the Baltimore Oriole. If you are fortunate, you might hear the hammering of the Pileated Woodpecker.

The Lake James shoreline provides viewing of the migrating waterfowl. Pokagon’s pine groves are home to our nocturnal owl populations. Trine State Recreation Area is home to turkeys and at certain times of the year, you can see ospreys, cormorants and the gangly yet graceful Sandhill Cranes.

Pokagon State Park Nature Center offers birding opportunities. You can relax seated on a bench and gaze out the panoramic Woodland Window and observe the many bird species and some wildlife feeding. The Red-Headed Woodpeckers are frequent visitors. A concealed microphone lets you listen to the outdoor chatter.