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Birding in Northeast Ohio

A great way to discover nature is through birdwatching, and Northern Ohio is a great place to be a birder. The expanse of Lake Erie is a barrier to migrating birds, so birds concentrate along the shoreline in large numbers. And our location at the edge of different ecological regions, means that we are a crossroads for many species.

From the spring warbler migration to the winter massing of gulls along the lakeshore, there are amazing natural phenomena to be witnessed.

Spring mania<br />The boardwalk at Magee Marsh is one of the best places in the country to observe the spring migration of warblers and other neotropical migrants. Late winter at Pymatuning Reservoir<br />Northeast Ohio offers year-round birding opportunities, such as a late winter field trip to the Pymatuning Reservoir in eastern Ohio led by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Lakefront phenomenon<br />During the winter thousands of gulls congregate around the warm water discharges of power plants along the Lake Erie shore, including the plant by Gordon Park in Cleveland.New lakefront treasure<br />The Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve, a former disposal area for river dredgings, is now a birding hotspot within view of downtown. Dunes along the shore<br />The rare habitat of Mentor Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve attracts unusual birds throughout the year.

This section of the site will collect resources about birding in Northern Ohio. To start, here are some of the top birding locations:

  • Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve: Formerly a disposal facility for dredge spoils, this new urban birding hotspot just opened along the lakefront near downtown Cleveland.
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park: One of the busiest national parks, the CVNP offers great river valley habitat for great blue heron rookeries and bald eagle nests.
  • Holden Arboretum: One the largest arboretums in the country, Holden is a mix of high, snowbelt meadows, forests, and creek ravines.
  • Killbuck Marsh State Wildlife Area -- At over 5,600 acres, Killbuck is the largest inland marsh in Ohio and prime habitat for migrating waterfowl and songbirds. 
  • Lake Rockwell: This lake on the upper Cuyahoga River is a favorite birding spot in Portage County.
  • Magee Marsh: Probably the most famous birding spot in Ohio, Magee Marsh between Sandusky and Toledo is the best place to see the spring migration of neotropical songbirds.
  • Mentor Headlands State Park: A mix of Lake Erie dunes, beach, woods, and open water make Headlands a consistent favorite of birders.
  • Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge: Next door to Magee Marsh, Ottawa has lakeshore marshes and impoundments managed for wildlife.
  • Power plants (E. 72nd St. in Cleveland, Eastlake, and Avon Lake): When Lake Erie freezes in the winter, there’s often great birding at the spots of open water created by power plant discharges.
  • Pymatuning State Park: A reservoir and wetland complex straddling the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, Pymatuning is a good place for waterfowl and bald eagles.
  • Sandy Ridge Reservation: A wetland restoration project of Lorain County Metro Parks, Sandy Ridge has become a hotspot for migrating waterfowl.
  • Shaker Lakes: Good birding close to home for people on the east side of Cleveland.
  • Wellington Reservoir: One of several Lorain County reservoirs that are regular stops for birders.

Most of these spots are included in the new Ohio Lake Erie Birding Trail, developed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. 

What is your favorite birding hotspot? Send us your ideas.

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