Cumberland, Ohio 43732
The Wilds webpage
The Wilds map
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Take I-70 to Zanesville, then the marked exit to The Wilds (OH-146 east). After about 17 miles, the countryside will abruptly open up and you will see a big sign for The Wilds on the right. Turn here, on Zion Ridge Road. It is mostly birding by car from here.
You will pass through big open country here, with lots of potential. The usual criteria for finding raptors apply: eagles may be soaring high on a sunny day and most raptors will be perched if it is raining. Perches are at a premium: check dead trees on wooded margins, utility poles, hay bales, fence posts. Scott Road, though it appears on the map, is not open to the public, and is almost always gated.
When Zion Ridge ends at OH-284, take a left. Before long you’ll see another big Wilds sign on the left; this is International Road. It has been the most fruitful stretch for golden eagles and the prairie falcon has been seen here on a number of occasions. Big vistas, worth frequent stops to scan. The Headquarters of The Wilds can be reached by taking a dirt road about halfway along this route if the gate’s open. There is more habitat here, plus views of some of the exotic animals — giraffes, elk, horses, and more.
International Road descends into a wooded area before it ends at OH-340. This is a birdy spot, with lots of different habitats visible, but not for open-country raptors. Turn right on OH-340. As at all spots, proceed carefully, scan all perches, look for raptors in flight, check especially for harriers and rough-legs harassing another raptor, and birds soaring very high.
Look for a dirt road heading uphill on the left not far from International Road. Take this up into open country again. At the next intersection, Prouty Road (unsigned), go the short distances both right and left (both are blocked off within a quarter mile) for prospects, especially perches on hay bales. Return to the intersection, continue on the original dirt road, and explore it and the next road both left and right. Then retrace your route back to paved OH-340, turn left, and go to OH-284 again.
Turn left on OH-284 and go about a half a mile to Rural Dale Road on the left (you will pass Rural Dale turn to the right along the way), and turn left. Bird Rural Dale. The first left will be the rest of Prouty Road that had been blocked off to you before; check this out, especially the hay bales and any dead trees. Return to Rural Dale and check out other passable side roads, always returning to Rural Dale, for the next 2-3 miles. The hay bales and these side roads have been productive for the prairie falcon.
Return to OH-284, and return to any of the previous areas; the birds move around constantly, and any place you’ve found empty once could be productive on a subsequent visit. This route covers all the sites where golden eagles and the prairie falcon have been seen in past years.
From Bill Whan
About The Wilds
The Wilds is a private, non-profit safari park and conservation center that combines cutting-edge conservation science and education programs with hands-on experiences and one-of-a-kind adventures that include ziplining, horseback riding, fishing and more. Located in southeast Ohio, the Wilds is home to rare and endangered species from around the globe living in natural, open-range habitats.
The property encompasses 9,154 acres or approximately 14 square miles and includes 2,000 acres of pastures and a 27-acre Carnivore Conservation Center. The Wilds is designated an Audubon Important Bird Area so the property includes a birding station with covered lookout as well as a butterfly habitat with hiking trails, more than 15 miles of mountain bike and hiking trails and approximately 150 lakes.
With nearly 10,000 acres of grasslands, woodlands, wetlands and lakes, the Wilds is home to a great diversity of bird species. Audubon has recognized the Wilds as one of Ohio’s Important Bird Areas, and birdwatchers from near and far have discovered the abundance of bird life here.
Birding Station at Jeffrey Point
Recognizing the value of the birding community to the future of our organization and conservation in general, the Wilds has worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife to construct an observation deck, which is open to the public year-round, seven days a week, at no charge.
The Birding Station at Jeffrey Point is a great spot to watch raptors in winter, hear grassland nesting birds in spring and summer, and watch the ospreys returning to the hack site in the spring. Look for it on OH-284, between Zion Ridge Road and International Road.
From The Wilds webpage
No restroom facilities are available currently, except during open season for tour participants.