Natural History Topics - November

American witchhazel
Late flowering American witchhazel


November Flora
Early this month look for the yellow-flowering American witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) trees along Haskell Run and Ledges trail system. This is the only shrub in North America that blooms this late in the year. Its common name comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “wiche” or “wice”, meaning flexible or bendable and referring to its branches.

European larch needles and cones
European larch needles and cones


In mid-November the European larch (Larix decidua) needle leaves turn brilliant gold. This tree is both deciduous (loosing it needle leaves each season) and a true conifer tree (having seeds in cone). The best place to see autumn larches is along the towpath north of the Beaver Marsh at the river overlook.


November Birds
Watch for bald eagles and ospreys along the Cuyahoga River as they search for migrating fish to eat.

Eagle fishing along the Cuyahoga River in CVNP


Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) begin their pair bonding activity for both new and established pairs in the fall. Courtship behavior has a pair performing amazing aerial displays, plunging together through the air in very high dives with talons locked together, only to break apart as they near the ground. Nest building is soon to follow.

Osprey with newly caught fish
Osprey with newly caught fish


Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are a type of hawk with an almost exclusive diet of fish. They nest near bodies of water and have the ability to dive to depths over three feet to capture their prey. They are well adapted with closable nostrils, long talons, and a reversible outer toe for stability. They remain on the endangered species list for Ohio.

They do not nest in the Cuyahoga Valley, but are rare visitors.

Male eastern bluebird
Male eastern bluebird


This is the best month to look for flocking eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) along the Tree Farm Trail, Cross Country Trail, and along the towpath especially near Hunt Farm Visitor Information Center. Spot the dark blue males with their reddish chests and gray-blue females with duller reddish chests. Their song is “Tu-wheet-tudu.”

Last updated: December 17, 2018

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