By Ohio.org Staff
Posted On: Mar 21, 2021
Ohio offers some of the best birding sites in the country, particularly along the Lake Erie shoreline. Ohio State Parks, nature preserves, forests and wildlife areas are spectacular locations to view many species of birds like warblers, song birds, waterfowl, shorebirds and so many more.
The best times of the year to see these migrating birds begin in April, but more specifically, you can see shorebirds from April-June, hawks from April-May and warblers from April-May. Check out these unique locations around Ohio to see these magnificent birds.
NOTE: Check directly with places before you go to learn about their health guidelines, safety updates and any visitation requirements.
Magee Marsh Boardwalk. Photo credit: Dominque King
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Oak Harbor
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Lucas and Ottawa counties is recognized as one of the nation's premier birding destinations. It offers thousands of acres along the western Lake Erie shoreline ideal for viewing the Spring migration activities of warblers, song birds and mentor headlands. A handicap-accessible boardwalk, known as the bird trail, is next to the Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center at Magee Marsh and provides access to one of the best birding areas in the marsh.
Note: The Magee Marsh Boardwalk is open as one-way (starting at the west entrance). However the boardwalk will be closed from April 17 to May 31. At that time, a new trail will open near the boardwalk to give more areas for birding. The Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center remains closed.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Summit County
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Summit County located in the northeastern region of Ohio has many bird watching areas. Some of the popular birds you can see are blue heron, song birds and raptors - which stay in this area to nest.
Red headed woodpecker. Photo credit: ODNR
Oak Openings Preserve in Toledo
Oak Openings Preserve in Toledo, the northwest region of Ohio, is where you'll see some rare birds as they migrate North. This is one of the best places to see raptors because they don't like going over water. Lark sparrow can also be seen in this region as this is the only place where they breed. Bird watchers will get a great view of red headed woodpeckers and summer tanagers too.
Shawnee State Park in West Portsmouth
Shawnee State Park located in Scioto County near the edge of Appalachia is the best region to go to from late April through early May. At this location you can see song birds, blue grosbeaks, prairie warblers and chuck-will's-widows. These migrating birds are in this part of Ohio during early May for breeding.
Warbler. Photo credit: ODNR
Some additional best spots for bird watching:
Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati
During April and May, it's great for birds due to green space in an urban setting.
Crown City Wildlife Area near Lawrence/Gallia County Line
The best location is near Gallipolis during late April and early May. You can see grassland birds, henslow's sparrow (bird watchers come specifically to Ohio to see this bird), eastern meadowlarks and orchard orioles.
Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus
In early May, the rivers in this area are like super highways for bird migrations. You can also see water birds and cormorants. You can also sign-up for their "Birdwatching for Beginners" series, which takes place at 10AM every Saturday at Scioto Audubon Metro Park.
Note: Registration for "Birdwatching for Beginners" requires reservations. Attendees are asked to practice social distancing and to bring binoculars. You can get a pair from the Visitor's Center (but will need to leave your driver's license with the front desk attendant). Face masks are required when inside the Visitor's Center and strongly encouraged during the hikes too.
Kendrick Woods State Nature Preserve in Spencerville
Head to Allen County in April and May, and check out this area, plus the Johnny Appleseed Park District.
These locations around Ohio are some of the more unique locations to visit to see these one-of-a-kind birds.
*Hero photo: The Prothonotary Warbler is a species that abound in any Ohio woodland or brushy area during the Spring and Fall migration seasons.