June 2 brought a cooler, hazy morning to Belmont County, but that didn’t stop around 60 people from coming out to the Bobolink Bonanza at Dickinson Cattle Company. Free T-shirts, funded generously by the Belmont County Tourism Council’s GAP grant, were handed out to the first 50 visitors. Breakfast and lunch offerings were organized through the Country Sunshine 4H Club. Hourly door prizes were provided by Rural King, Kroger, Schlepp’s Family Restaurant, Kirke’s Ice Cream, Emily Street, and Bird Watcher’s Digest.

People ebbed and flowed between the bird observation area and the main check-in area, where they could visit the Long Horn Store and check out the peacocks (and other birds). Representatives from Cabela’s were on hand to demonstrate different optics and a staff member from Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves was answering questions all morning. Information was also available from Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District, Brooks Bird Club, Captina Conservancy, and Dysart Woods. A tour of Dickinson Cattle Company provided a behind-the-scenes look at the working cattle ranch.

In the observation area, staged in a then cattle-free pasture, members of the Brooks Bird Club and other experienced birders helped visitors see and hear 33 different birds. Several people expressed surprise at not realizing there were this many different birds in one small area. It’s all about the habitat though. The bobolink is a robin-sized songbird that inhabits uncut pastures, overgrown fields and meadows, and what’s left of the countries prairies. It is listed as a Species of Concern in the state of Ohio. Landowners can help, and it will often require doing less work. Rotationally grazing animals and waiting to cut hay until after the nesting period (late June/early July) allows more of the desired habitat to be available for the bobolink and its companion birds.

Interested in learning more? Follow the Brooks Bird Club for more birding events and opportunities. Check out the Captina Creek Birding Trail with beautiful five stops throughout southern Belmont County. Contact the Natural Resource Conservation Services office in Barnesville for incentives on improving wildlife habitat. Pick up some optics from Cabela’s, or any retailer. Preserve land through easement programs offer by Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District or Captina Conservancy. Or, just stay tuned for another Bobolink Bonanza.