#17 - Codorus Creek Game Lands (Sunnyside Road)
Property Manager: Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (814) 643-1831
GPS address: Sunnyside Road, Spring Grove, PA 17362. The parking area is 0.3 miles north of the intersection with Martin Road.
Hours: Dawn until Dusk
Parking: The parking area is a small gravel lot near where Sunnyside Road crosses the Codorus Creek.
Restrooms: Restrooms are not available.
Safety Reminders: Do not bird at this location during popular hunting periods. Be smart. Always wear blaze orange if you choose to bird this property (as typically some game is in season throughout the year). It is required by law to wear fluorescent orange hat and vest when you are in gamelands from November 15-December 15th. First Sunday of rifle season is open to hunting do not go birding on this date. Please follow all posted signs. Do not park in “no parking areas” or interfere with those hunting. Familiarize yourself with rules as the Game Commission may allow Sunday hunting soon. In the future one may need a permit for non-hunting activities (not needed at this time).
Best Birding: Sundays and not during popular game seasons. Dawn until dusk.
Site Description: This location is a game lands, so proper precautions must be taken to bird here safely. It is a small area that has accumulated a large list of species viewed here in the last several years. Some of the best local birders frequent this area. A diverse group of birds have been recorded in the fields, wetland, and riparian corridor along the Codorus Creek.
From the parking area walk west along the hedgerow back towards the woods to start. Fall and spring is best for migrant sparrows. Common breeding birds include those such as Indigo Bunting, Eastern Towhee, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Gray Catbird, and others typical of field edges. In migration check the hedgerows for Lincoln’s Sparrow and Least Flycatcher. Various species of warblers can be found in the tall sycamores near the edge of the forest. All seven species of PA’s woodpeckers have been recorded here as well. Sometimes this walk is so busy that after an hour or so checking the creek seems a nice break from all the small birds that are high in the trees or skulking low in the hedgerows or grasses.
There is a basin that floods near the parking area and creek. Waterfowl and other marsh birds have been recorded here. Green-winged Teal, other dabbling ducks, Sora, and Wilson’s Snipe are possible. A short walk along the road to the bridge gives a view of the creek. Here look for merganser species and various diving ducks along with Belted Kingfishers and standard PA herons and egrets in season. Traffic is usually light but be careful near Sunnyside Road when birding the roadside or creek.
Agricultural fields surround the property and make up a good portion of it. Horned Lark, American Pipit, and possible Snow Buntings and others could be found here along the road in snowy winters. Great Horned Owl and other raptors also frequent this location. Overall this small game lands is a little talked about birding gem, and hopefully birders will continue to bird here during non-hunting times. Please be aware of private property that borders this public land, and obey all posted signage.