Where We Are Birding – April

Where We Are Birding – April

Each month, our OOS Regional Directors are sharing their favorite birding hotspots in their respective regions – and beyond. These include some well-know destinations, specialty spots for specific species, and their own secret, treasured local patches. Have a favorite birding location? Reach out to your OOS Regional Director and let them know!

Amy Downing – Northwest Regional Director

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge – Ottawa County

It’s early migration, and I am dreaming about birds nightly, both real and dream-created birds! Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Oak Harbor holds my attention with American White Pelicans, Sandhill Cranes, Trumpeter Swans, and Great Egrets by the dozens but also new Great-horned Owlets and remaining Long-eared Owls. There are accessible sidewalks and boardwalks, soft walking trails, lake inlet paths, and grassy swamp/marsh areas to be explored in the overall 10 miles of hiking. The visitor’s center has facilities, benches, and shelter to view their many bird feeders, Purple Martin gourds, Bluebird and Tree Swallow houses, and sweet-smelling trees flowering for great birding.

Melissa Wales – Southeast Regional Director

Poston Plant Lands ​- Athens County

Poston Plant Lands is American Electric Power reclamation land a little over 2 miles west of The Plains in Athens County. Take SR 682 to Poston Road near the SR 33 interchange and head west. At Industrial Drive, turn right and keep right to follow the gravel road to a gate where you can pull off and park. The gravel road is flat and pretty even, but the gate is usually closed to car traffic and access for birders does involve traversing some uneven and not very accessible ground around the right side of the gate.

In April you will find Brown Thrasher, Field and Song Sparrows, White-eyed Vireo, Eastern Meadowlark, Prairie Warblers, and Yellow-breasted Chat. In the evening, you will hear and see the displays of the American Woodcock and might even hear a passing through Whip-poor-will. Around a mile in, you will enter a mix-forested area that becomes the Athens Conservancy Bluebell Preserve (yes, take time to enjoy the wildflowers), and will find Yellow-throated Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, Cerulean Warbler, and American Redstart. In about another mile, this road ends up at the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway.

Do be mindful of hunting season.

Kandace Glanville – Central Regional Director

Slate Run Metro Park – Pickaway County

Slate Run Metro Park in Pickaway county is a huge park with a wide variety of habitat that offers a good diversity of birds in early migration. The mature forest and scrub-shrub habitats yield early warblers and other migrants, there’s water birds at the wetlands, and also late winter birds like Brown creeper, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Dark-eyed Juncos. There’s restrooms, lots of trails of varied difficulty including some easy boardwalk hikes, as well as a living historical farm you can visit!

Diana Steele – Northeast Regional Director

Vermilion River—Bacon Woods – Lorain County

Where you’ll find me in April—Looking for warblers in the Vermilion River Reservation, Bacon Woods—part of the Lorain County Metroparks system.

Down in the valley of the Vermilion River a leafy glen invites unusual nesting species for Lorain County and northern Ohio. One of the earliest species to return in April is yellow-throated warblers, which sing loudly from the tops of sycamores lining the river. Later, cerulean warblers, blue-winged warblers, and redstarts set up their nesting territories; while rarer warbler species, like golden-winged, occasionally drop in during migration.

For the best birding, turn north of North Ridge Road into the Bacon Woods section of the Vermilion River Reservation. Drive to the north end of the parking lot, and you may hear yellow-throated or cerulean warblers calling before you even get out of the car.

A wide, flat, packed-gravel path, popular with dog-walkers, heads north through the deep woods, with bluebells lining the path. This .85-mile-loop Bacon Woods Trail is easily traversed, while further paths that wind around a field (.7-mile-loop Bluebird Trail) and deeper into the woods (1.4-mile-loop Coopers Hollow Trail) are sometimes muddy. The trails are consecutive, so to walk the entire Cooper’s Hollow Trail, one also walks the Bacon Woods and Bluebird Trails, for a total round-trip of nearly 3 miles.

An unofficial “fisherman’s trail” hugs the riverbank and can be good for birders in April and May. It’s sometimes tricky to walk because it’s not maintained, and downed trees, mud, and steep portions can be an obstacle to some.

Restroom facilities are available at the parking lot.

Jon Cefus – East Central Regional Director

Conesville Coal Lands – Coshocton County

This month, you will find me birding at the Conesville Coal Lands in Coshocton County.  Many Ohio birders have made the trip to this area in hopes of hearing Ruffed Grouse drumming.  Ohio’s Ruffed Grouse population has been declining steadily for decades now.  The Conesville Coal lands is a reclaimed mining area.  Unlike some of the reclaimed areas further south in Ohio that feature large grasslands, this area is heavily wooded with many streams and ponds.  For more information about birding this area, go to the Birding in Ohio website.

Tyler Ficker – Southwest Regional Director

East Fork State Park – Floodplains – Clermont County

The Floodplains on the western side of East Fork State Park (Clermont Co) bursts with life in April when large numbers of Grasshopper Sparrows and Prairie Warblers return to breeding grounds! The forested edge to the area can provide great numbers of other migrating songbirds!

Tykee James and Bird Nerds Panel Event

Tykee James and Bird Nerds Panel Event

Watch the full video here:


Tykee James is the government affairs coordinator at the National Audubon Society, Co-Chair for the National Black and Latinx Scholarship Fund, and sits on the board of directors of the DC Audubon Society, Wyncote Audubon Society, Audubon Maryland-DC, the Birding Co-op, and the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University.

After moving to DC almost two years ago, he became grounded in his special role: organizing bird walks with members of Congress and congressional staff! Tykee has built residency in this work from his experience in Philadelphia, his hometown. His first job was an environmental educator and community organizer in his own neighborhood. Tykee would also serve a State Representative as her environmental policy advisor. He continues to develop himself as a leader through his membership in the Environmental Leadership Program and the Green Leadership Trust.

Tykee has been part of the birding community for almost a decade. Most recently, he earned international recognition as one of the organizers of the first #BlackBirdersWeek in 2020. 

In his personal time he is the audio producer for Wildlife Observer Network, a wildlife media project he started with some wildlife-friendly friends in Philly. Tykee hosts two podcasts: Brothers in Birding and On Word for Wildlife.

Website: WildlifeObserverNetwork.com 

Twitter: @Tykee_James

Instagram: @TykeeJames 


The East Clark Bird Nerds is birding club at East Clark School in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. It is comprised of students in grades 6-8 with one alumni member still active. The purpose of the club is to learn about, and appreciate, birds and the great outdoors.

The club was started in the fall of 2018 by Richard “Buster” Banish who is a teacher at East Clark School. He has been a birder for 30+ years and in 1986 he started taking 4-5 students birding for a day each May during Cleveland’s Audubon Spring Bird Walk Series. He still keeps in touch with a few of the students who went on the first birding adventure, and many others from the years after that. Many have told him that it was the best day they had up to that point in their lives, and it created a lifelong love of birds.

In the fall of 2018, Mr. Banish decided to create a birding club for students at his school and named the club the Bird Nerds. He asked students who showed an interest in birds write an essay on why they would like to join the Bird Nerds. He selected 15 students to be in the club and they held their first meeting in October 2018. The club met every Tuesday after school for an hour. During club meetings, Mr. Banish taught the students about birds and had local birding experts come and speak to the club. He also took them birding around the Cleveland area so they could practice identifying birds in the field.

Mr. Banish sought, and received, a grant from a company that his brother-in-law works for to take students to The Biggest Week in American Birding festival in May 2019. Using the grant funds, Bird Nerd shirts were purchased for each student and the trip to the Biggest Week was planned. Mr. Banish is a field tech for Swarovski Optiks and asked if the club could borrow binoculars since none of the students had them. Swarovski generously provided binoculars for each student to use.

Mr. Banish asked the Ohio Young Birders to assist as guides on the trip and one enthusiastically agreed. This allowed the Bird Nerds club to divide into two groups for the day. All 15 students participated in the trip to the Biggest Week and after a long day full of adventures, the Bird Nerds returned back to East Clark School exhausted and thrilled to have been part of the group that netted 88 species, including a Kirtland’s warbler and 17 species of warblers.

Over the past two years, the club has been on many more birding trips all across northern and central Ohio including a pelagic on Lake Erie. Club members have spoken to many adult birding groups, were interviewed on a local television program, and have been featured in several social media posts and birding publications. The have enjoyed birding with many “expert” birders such as David Lindo and several of Cleveland’s finest. The local birding community has been very generous in supporting the Bird Nerds and raised significant funding for future birding trips, last count has them visiting 50+ parks and natural areas in search of birds and adventures.

The COVID pandemic and closure of the Cleveland schools, has required that weekly meetings be held via video conference for the past year, but Mr. Banish still takes small groups of students birding whenever possible. He and the Bird Nerds can’t wait until they can start attending birding festivals and meeting with other birders again.





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