#16 - York Haven Hydro Dam
Property Manager: Cube Hydro Manager LLC and PA Fish and Boat Commission (814) 643-1831
GPS address: 100 Hydro Park Dr, York Haven, PA 17370
Hours: Dawn until Dusk
Parking: There is one small parking area by the dam and a small park beside the plant.
Restrooms: Restroom not available.
Safety Reminders: Please be aware of your surroundings and practice smart birding, it is not advisable to kayak or boat here without prior experience or knowledge of this section of river. Birding from shore is best. There is a portage ramp north of the dam behind the small park.
Best Birding: Non-waterfowl birding is best April through September, dawn until dusk. Waterfowl is best October-March.
Site Description: The York Haven Hydro Dam is quite popular among anglers, but the small park and views of the river make it a good birding spot. One of the best birding locales in York County was the nearby Brunner’s Island Wetland which was recently closed to public access when management changed at that facility. The dam sits just north of Brunner’s Island.
A smaller island visible and close to the parking area at York Haven Hydro to the south of the dam on the east bank of the narrow Conewago Creek can hold some of the same woodland birds Brunner’s was loved for. The Conewago Creek enters the river just below the dam and is a popular fishing spot. Listen for a Lousiana Waterthrush or Prothonotary Warbler here in the warmer months. The nearby Gut Road connecting Brunner’s Island and Saginaw is also a nice place to look for woodland species that are present on Brunner’s Island.
Winter time waterfowl and gulls are possible here (typically in flyby form). A scope can help you scan the river. A canoe portage ramp behind the park near the railroad tracks affords a nice look north of the river. Please stay off the ramp and view birds off to the side. This way the ramp can be used for its primary function of assisting boaters around the dam.
The small park gives good views of the tower above the dam which has had nesting Osprey in the past. Peregrine Falcon and Bald Eagle are also active in this area. In addition to raptors, the park often boasts a few Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, and Northern Mockingbirds. Large roosts of Black Vultures and Turkey Vultures occur nearby as well. Even if the park is quiet usually the skies above it are active.
The York Haven Hydro area will not ever be the habitat that the Brunner’s Island wetland area is, but it is still a good location to bird in Northeastern York County. Rarities and uncommon birds from the closed off wetland area included Least Bittern, shorebirds, and warbler species. Breeding Prothonotary Warblers were present here in good numbers, and certainly some of the spill over from this still present (yet posted) habitat can be viewed in the woods near the dam.