Best Place to Bird-Watch

Castlewood State Park

Local birders know that in the fall, the bald eagles hover along the Mississippi, and in the spring, the songbirds bustle in Tower Grove Park. But there's another spot due west of town that's perfect for appreciating our avian friends year-round: Castlewood State Park in Ballwin. Castlewood's range of habitats — meadows, forests, bluffs and the Meramec River — makes this 1,800-acre park a home to all kinds of birds, according to Pat Lueders of the St. Louis Audubon Society. Up in the trees live the permanent residents: cardinals, blue jays and chickadees (the warblers arrive when the weather warms up). Down on the river, great blue heron and belted kingfishers roost on the bank opposite the boat ramp. Field sparrows flit around the grassy areas. And soaring above it all are the turkey vultures and red-shouldered hawks, the latter of whom aren't shy about vocalizing. "If you're walking in Castlewood and you hear a bloodcurdling screech," Lueders warns, "it's a hawk."

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