Birding at Shawnee State Forest

West Portsmouth, Ohio

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Information about Shawnee State Forest

Information about Shawnee State Park

Shawnee State Forest

General Information


13291 US-52, West Portsmouth, OH 45663


Adams, Scioto

DeLorme Page Number and Coordinates

(7th Edition and earlier) Page 84 B-2, B-3, B-4, C-2, C-3, C-4

Nearest Town or City

Portsmouth, Ohio.

Directions from Nearest Town or City

Follow US 52 West out of Portsmouth for about 6 miles. The Forest Headquarters is located on the North side of the road. It is well marked with a sign.

About Shawnee State Forest

Shawnee State Forest is the largest state forest, consisting of 60,000 acres. It is mainly mixed hardwood forest with some stands of hemlocks occurring in the deeper, wetter hollows. The forest has many miles of roads making it easy to cover a large area when birding. Some of the roads are paved, others are packed gravel but all of them can be easily traveled in any type of vehicle. When birding this area, a map of the forest is a necessity and can be obtained at the forest headquarters or on-line. The best time to bird the forest is mid-April through mid-May. After this the foliage gets very thick and makes birding more difficult. The most efficient way to bird the forest is to drive the roads, stopping often to listen for birds. A familiarity with the songs of the expected birds is useful. The birds can often be difficult to see as they flit among the treetops, but patience will be rewarded with good looks. Although birds can be found anywhere in the forest, here is a recommended route:

Begin at the intersection of SR 125 and Pond Lick Road (Forest Rd. #1). A good first stop is usually at the bridge just after the intersection. This is a good place for Yellow-throated and Yellow Warblers. The house on the left usually maintains feeders that often attract sparrows, juncos, and other common birds which can be seen from the road. You may also locate hummingbird feeders here in the backyard. As you continue up the road, you will come to a large stand of pine trees on the left. This is a good area for Ovenbirds, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, and Yellow-throated Warbler. Cerulean and Black-throated Green Warblers can often be heard singing on the hillside. Continuing on, the road will go through both woods and some fields. Frequent stops should be made as a variety of birds can be found in this area. The fields can sometimes have Wild Turkeys feeding in them. Further up the road, you will come to the CCC Camp. You can park in the large gravel lot on the left, by the log cabin. There is usually a pair of Eastern Phoebes nesting under the eaves of the cabin. This area will often have a singing Pine Warbler (don’t confuse it with the chipping sparrows that also occur here) and the sycamores may provide good looks at a Yellow-throated Warbler, or a Louisiana Waterthrush along the creek. Spend some time wandering this area as the edge habitat here often produces good birds. Just past the camp is Pond-Lick Lake. The brushy margins between the road and lake provide good habitat for American Redstarts and Grey Catbirds.

The hillside to the left can hold a nice variety of birds, so spend some time in this area as well. From here the road starts to wander up to the ridge. Habitat along this stretch can be good for Worm-eating Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Wood Thrush, and several Vireo species. At the top of the ridge you will come to an intersection which can be good for Black and White Warblers and often a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker can be found here. Take the right fork in the road and continue along the ridge, making frequent stops to listen for Cerulean Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. This ridge road will wind along and eventually come to a parking area with a cleared overlook. The pine trees that are still standing in the overlook area usually host a nesting pair of Pine Warblers. This overlook provides a nice vantage point for locating soaring raptors. On a good spring morning this route will take 5-6 hours to complete and will provide great looks at a nice variety of birds.

Visiting Information

Closed hours/season

Open 6:00 AM – 11:00 PM, daily.

Parking Areas

Cars can be parked anywhere along forest roads as long as they are not blocking traffic. Look also for pull-offs throughout the area.



Restroom Facilities

Can be found at the state park lodge, the north and south ends of Turkey Creek, and at Roosevelt Lake in the park.

Harmful Insects, Poisonous Plants, or Animals

Poison Ivy is abundant. Copperheads and Timber Rattlesnakes are found in the forest.

Restaurants in the Area

The closest food is Buckeye Dairy Bar, located on the south side of US 52 in Friendship. Portsmouth has all of the normal fast-food places and a few sit-down restaurants such as Damon’s Bar and Grill.

Other Birding Spots in the Area

In late winter and early spring, waterfowl can gather in large numbers in the flooded bottomlands around Portsmouth. The only way to view these birds, however, is from the shoulder of the highways around Portsmouth.

Another good birding area in the spring is along Moore’s Lane (Delorme, pages 84 and 85, C-4). Moore’s Lane is not labeled in the Delorme Atlas, but it is the first road going south from US 52 after you pass the small community of Sugar Grove, going west. In the Delorme, it is located in the split between pages 84 and 85, between the words Sugar Grove and the symbol for US 52. When birding Shawnee State Forest in the spring, this road is a good location to check for a nice variety of grassland species and shorebirds. After first turning onto Moore’s Lane, there are pastures on both sides of the road. This area is good for Eastern Meadowlarks and several blackbird species. There are usually swallows in the area and a maybe an American Kestrel on the wires. Further south there are agricultural fields that hold Savannah Sparrows most of the year and sometimes Horned Larks and American Pipits are heard or seen. On the east side of the road there is usually a wet area which should be thoroughly checked for shorebirds (11 species occurred here in the spring of 2003) and there is usually some waterfowl present. Further along the road there are other wet areas that can be rewarding.

Another area worth checking is the Marina, located further to the southwest on SR 52. Along the entrance road, the edge habitat here is good for warblers, vireos and other species. Several swallow species, a few gulls or ducks and maybe a Belted Kingfisher can be found closer to the Ohio River.

Birds of Interest by Season


Look for common winter and the occasional over-wintering Eastern Phoebe, Hermit Thrush, or Winter Wren.


Large numbers of neotropical migrants start arriving in mid-April. Listen for drumming Ruffed Grouse and look for Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks.


A large variety of nesting warblers can be found here including Kentucky Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Black and White Warbler, Ovenbird, Pine Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Common Yellow throat, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Hooded Warbler, Northern Parula, and Louisiana Waterthrush. Other nesting birds include Wood Thrush, Scarlet and Summer Tanager, Great-crested Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood Pewee, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Red-eyed Vireo.


The neotropical migrants come back through this area in the fall, but their silence and the thick leaf cover make birding difficult.

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