Chilo Lock 34 Park and Crooked Run Nature Preserve

Chilo Lock 34 Park and Crooked Run Nature Preserve

Felicity, Ohio 45120

Chilo Lock 34 Park webpage
Chilo Lock 34 Park map

Tips for Birding

Chilo Lock #34 Park consists of 39 acres on the site of the former US Corps of Engineers wicket dam. A 1.5-acre wetland, open fields, and access to the Ohio River all combine to provide excellent birding opportunities.

The adjacent Crooked Run Nature Preserve is made up of 77 acres of mixed habitat, including deciduous woods, fields, a pond, the Crooked Run estuary, and the Ohio River. There is a 1-mile outer loop trail and several connecting trails plus the gravel road – all level, easy walking. There are three bird blinds along the estuary, a river overlook, and an elevated observation platform.

From New Richmond, drive 15.5 miles southeast on OH-52; park entrance on the right on the east side of Chilo.

  • The park and preserve close at dusk.
  • Parking is plentiful and free. Do not block access to boat ramp.
  • Cell phone service is limited in this area.

Interpretative signage along the river walk behind the Chilo Lock #34 Visitor Center and Museum tells the story of the thriving community which once existed here during the years the wicket dam was operational. The Museum itself consists of three stories of artifacts and interactive displays which tell the history of the Ohio River. There are two picnic shelters and a playground on park property; two yurts are used for camping, by arrangement.

Two miles downriver (west) is the Meldahl Dam, where gulls and waterfowl can be found. Eastern Bluebirds are in residence year-round, and a Peregrine Falcon is often present on the lock walls. Twelve miles east of Crooked Run on OH-52 (two miles east of Higginsport) there is an active Bald Eagle nest on the property of the Brown County Rural Water Association. You can park at a pull-off by the fence just past the facility and observe the nest in a large sycamore tree.

Chilo Lock 34 Park has a small wetland and surrounding prairie with a trail and bird blind. There is also a great view of the Ohio River.

At this location, the Ohio-Kentucky state line is near the Ohio side of the river. Birds seen on the other side of the Ohio River are in Kentucky. When reporting birds from the Ohio hotspot use multiple incomplete checklists as described below.

Ohio eBird reviewers ask that birders keep precise state and county lists. When you are at a location where you see birds across a state or county line, we ask that you keep two incomplete birding lists, one for each side of the border.

When keeping separate checklists for different sides of a border, please follow these rules:

  • For both checklists, the answer to “Is this a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify?” must be “No“, because each list intentionally omits birds in the other geopolitical area.
  • Use your exact location for birds detected on your side of the border; create a personal location directly across from you on the opposite side of the border for the birds you detect on that side. (You can also select an appropriate hotspot for either side of the border, but only if it accurately describes your location on your side or the general vicinity of the birds on the other side.)
  • If you freely crossed back and forth across the border while birding, choose an incomplete Stationary or Traveling protocol for both checklists. If you could not freely cross the border while birding, use the “Incidental” protocol for the checklist on the inaccessible side. Do not use the Stationary or Traveling protocol for any lists plotted to counties, states, or provinces you did not actually bird within.
  • We recommend focusing on one side of the border at a time instead of trying to keep two lists at once (you will not be able to keep simultaneous lists running on eBird Mobile if you are using tracks).

Birds of Interest

The Preserve has a bird list of 201 species, and good birding can be found in any month of the year.
Common Loons, Pied-billed and Horned Grebes are commonly seen on the Ohio River as well as on the estuary. Red-necked and Eared Grebes have both been reported. Thirty species of waterfowl have been found, from the common birds like Mallards and Wood Ducks to the more unusual Long-tailed Ducks and all three scoter species. The 200th species reported at the Preserve were three female Harlequin Ducks on 11/11/11, seen once and never again. Gulls and terns are possible along the river, as are raptors like Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon. The woods are good for owls – Great Horned, Barred, Barn, and Eastern Screech-owl have been seen and heard – and all seven of Ohio’s woodpeckers (although I have never seen Red-headed here), as well as Winter Wren, Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch in irruptive years.
Spring is when the woodlands come into their own, attracting many neotropical migrants. Thirty-one species of warblers have been seen at Crooked Run, including the elusive Connecticut Warbler, and many stay to breed here. Blue-headed Vireo is seen in migration. Five species of flycatchers are residents – Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood-pewee, Eastern Kingbird, Willow and Great Crested Flycatcher. Acadian and Alder Flycatcher have been sighted.
Summer breeding birds abound. Prothonotary Warblers proclaim their territory up and down the estuary while Blue-winged Warblers and Common Yellowthroats vie for the best spots in the meadow. Four species of vireos (Yellow-throated, White-eyed, Red-eyed, and Warbling), both orioles, both tanagers, and Yellow-billed Cuckoos are only a few of the colorful denizens of the preserve.
In the fall, the fields of Chilo Lock #34 fill up with sparrows. On a good day, I have found 7 species on just one trail – White-throated, White-crowned, Field, Swamp, Song, Savannah, and American Tree. Eastern Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco, Chipping, and Fox Sparrow complete the possibilities. Both kinglet species and Yellow-rumped Warblers return in late fall, along with Hermit Thrushes. Osprey can be seen along the river.

About this Location

The park is located on the site of a former US Army Corps of Engineers lock and dam. The highlight of the park is the Chilo Lock 34 Visitor Center and Museum, which offers three floors of exhibits and interactive displays focusing on the history of the Ohio River and locks and dams.

A 1.5-acre wetland is located in the park, providing great wildlife watching opportunities. Two picnic shelters are in the park and a steamboat-themed playground. The park is adjacent to Crooked Run Nature Preserve.

Notable Trails

Parking for and access to the Crooked Run Nature Preserve Trails is from Chilo Lock 34 Park.

Content from Chilo Lock 34 Park webpage, Ohio Ornithological Society, and Alyssa Rooks