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

Join the Ohio Ornithological Society for a virtual live event Thursday, April 15, at 7:00pm. Tykee James, Government Affairs Coordinator at Audubon and Co-organizer of the first #BlackBirdersWeek, in conversation with the East Clark Bird Nerds, a Cleveland middle school birding club.

 

SIGN UP 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.

 

 

 

 

Where We Are Birding – March

Where We Are Birding – March

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

Blue Rock Nature Preserve, Riverside Park, and Oakwoods Nature Preserve

With amazing weather but a busy schedule I find myself on daily short
hikes through small to medium-sized parks looking for the early migrants.
My focus is on the closest parks with dense undercover, water sources, and
high tree canopy. Hancock County is fortunate to have such places like
Blue Rock Nature Preserve, Riverside Park, Liberty Landings, and Oakwoods
Nature Preserve that are within minutes.  Today found me listening to
Spring Peepers and hoping for American Woodcock, American Phoebe, Wood
Duck on the river searching for nesting sites, Rusty Blackbirds with the
freshly arrived Red-winged, and early shorebirds in flooded areas. As
always I’m watching the skies for migrating raptors and hoping for Black
Vultures passing through with Turkey Vultures. Soon the warblers will be
coming through, so find your local parks with the right conditions for
great birding no matter length of time you have to get out there!

Melissa Wales – Southeast Regional Director

Ora Anderson Trail ​- Athens County

The Ora Anderson trail behind the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens is a delightful one mile loop. The Dairy Barn had been an active dairy for the Athens Lunatic Asylum (now known as The Ridges) and Ora Anderson, among his vast conservation accomplishments, was instrumental in the preservation of the barn, its transformation into an arts center, and the trail system behind it.

It is not accessible with a rather steep, sometimes muddy and rough loop trail that winds up the hillside and opens up to a clear cut, whose scrubby edges sometimes gift you with Fox (which I found this March) and Vesper Sparrows. The open treeless hilly area on the southern end is good for raptors, Eastern Bluebirds and more sparrows. The loop trail continuing to the north is good for migrating vireos and warblers, which are hopefully on their way now!

Kandace Glanville – Central Regional Director

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park – Franklin County

Late February and early March sort of marks the beginning of spring migration in central Ohio, and a great place to look for this is at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park in Franklin county – specifically, the eBird hotspot “Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park–Darby Plains Wet Prairie Restoration.” Wear your muck boots, and walk the trails to look for Northern Harriers, Rusty Blackbirds, swallows, as well as Short-eared Owls and American Woodcocks at dusk. These trails are not always easily walkable, as it’s uneven terrain and often very wet and muddy. Though, if nothing else, one could stand in the parking lot of the trails and get the Short-eared Owls and American Woodcocks from there.

Diana Steele – Northeast Regional Director

Sandy Ridge Reservation – Lorain County

In March, birds are on the move! Particularly blackbirds, waterfowl, and early shorebirds. A site I like to visit in March is Sandy Ridge Reservation, part of the Lorain County Metroparks system. It’s a vast reclaimed wetland and nature preserve frequented by many different types of ducks, shorebirds, blackbirds, sparrows, and later in spring, warblers. Since it opened in 1999, nearly 250 species have been seen there. From the parking lot, the half-mile-long flat crushed-stone Wet Woods Trail leads through a woods where thrushes pop up from leaf litter and a pair of great horned owls breed. When the trail opens up at a large wetland, an eagle nest can be seen to the left. A wide variety of ducks congregate on the open water, and shorebirds forage in small mudflats. For the past two years, trumpeter swans have raised broods here, and a solitary sandhill crane, nicknamed “Kevin,” often wanders the paths along with walkers. The 1.2-mile Marsh Loop Trail encircles the 526-acre wetland, and a raised mound and viewing platform offer a wide overview of the landscape. The trail can feel very exposed in windy or wet weather. In prior years, during migration, park personnel have offered guided tram tours, which will return post-Covid. Restrooms are available at the parking lot. A second trail, the .7-mile Meadow Loop Trail, encircles a meadow; a great place to see displaying woodcocks at dusk as well as breeding meadowlarks and sparrows. Check the park website for open hours, which change seasonally.

Jon Cefus – East Central Regional Director

Various Richland County Locations

This month you’ll find me trying to locate waterfowl on their spring migration with hopes of finding something rare here in Ohio like a Eurasian Wigeon or a Cinnamon Teal.  In east central Ohio, one of the counties that is on my radar is Richland.  With multiple lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands, Richland is a perfect place to search for ducks and geese.  For more information, check the Birding in Ohio website for hotspots and birding drives.

Tyler Ficker – Southwest Regional Director

Spring Valley Wildlife Area – Warren and Greene Counties

Spring Valley extends into both Greene and Warren counties and is my favorite place to visit in March. This location has diverse habitat for early migrant species such as kinglets, creepers, and sparrows. The waterfowl diversity this time of year can be great along with some early marsh birds beginning to sing such as Virginia Rails!

Where We Are Birding – February

Where We Are Birding – February

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

Findlay Water Pollution Treatment Center – Hancock County

Mid-winter means much more car birding for me, especially when temps drop below 10 degrees and most lakes and streams are frozen! One of my favorite roadside stops is along the Blanchard River at a “hot water” area outside of Findlay Water Pollution Treatment Center where a variety of waterfowl gather.

Regulars are Mallards and Canada Geese, but as other water sources are lost to ice we’re very likely to get all the strays from around county including Pied-billed Grebe, Redheads, Northern Pintail, Gadwall and sometimes hundreds of Mergansers. On the larger side Greater White-fronted and Snow Geese as well as an occasional swan may join the ranks. Be sure to drive the 2 mile stretch of road for winter songbirds, Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings to warm up a frigid day!

Melissa Wales – Southeast Regional Director

The Ridges ​- Athens County

Owned by Ohio University, The Ridges is the name given to the 700-acre complex that is the site of the former Athens Lunatic Asylum and its grounds, and the number 3 eBird hotspot for Athens County. Currently, the beautiful Kirkbride building is home to the Kennedy Art Museum and administrative offices. The grounds hold historic cemeteries, an observatory, an active land lab, woodlots, ravines, and regularly mowed fields.

The trail to Radar Hill is a gently sloping gravel road up through these fields that can be accessed from a parking lot off of Dairy Lane. I am always eager to head here starting mid-February at dusk to listen for the iconic peent calls and watch for the spectacular display flight of the American Woodcock. It’s one of my very favorite first signs of spring! During last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, I was thrilled to have four Sandhill Cranes flyover ahead while enjoying the Woodcocks.

Diana Steele – Northeast Regional Director

Lorain Harbor-Fishing Pier – Lorain County

The lakefront in the city of Lorain is rife with great birding spots. In midwinter, one fantastic location is the fishing pier. Completely accessible by car, it’s one place you can park during a midwinter storm and wait for the rarities to come to you on the wind. You don’t need a storm for an excuse to visit; but you might need a guide or a good set of directions.

For Google Maps, use “Hot waters fishing pier.” From the light at Rt. 6 and Oberlin Avenue, head north toward the lake. Where Oberlin Ave. takes a right turn, keep going straight, down the hill passing the Lorain Water Department on your right. This one-way lane leads to a boat ramp known as “Hot Waters” after the warm-water discharge of a former power plant. Keep the building on your right as you loop around it. You’ll now be heading away from the lake and toward the exit. Near a sign that says “Do Not Stop,” turn left through a gap in the chain-link fence. Keep going, slowly, and you’ll see two wide concrete piers extending out into the lake—birders usually favor the northern pier. You’ll know you are in the right place if it feels like your car could be swallowed by potholes. You can drive on the pier and observe birds in the water, on the breakwall, on the pier, and atop nearby buildings. A recent visit turned up a large flock of Lapland longspurs with snow buntings and horned larks feeding on cracked corn on the pier. A peregrine falcon swooped through, hunting the smaller birds. Out on the lake, waterfowl congregate in open water.

Accessible for birding from the car. No facilities in winter.

Jon Cefus – East Central Regional Director

Crazy Rd – Reclaimed Grasslands Near Cadiz – Harrison County

This month, you will find me birding in one of Ohio’s most reliable areas to find Ravens and, from what I have been told, the home of the oldest continuously run Christmas Bird Count in the United States (the Cadiz CBC). The county is Harrison and it is one of our best places to see winter raptors, which are my February targets. The reclaimed mining lands along SR 519 and SR 9 outside of Cadiz offer grassland habitat that birds like Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, and Short-eared Owl can be found hunting for small mammals. While you are looking for these birds, keep your eyes and ears open for Ravens, which frequent these areas year round, but are more vocal and prone to pre-nesting courtship behaviors you will not experience once they have eggs in a nest. For more information on birding the reclaimed grasslands near Cadiz in Harrison County, check out the Birding in Ohio website.

Tyler Ficker – Southwest Regional Director

Fernald Nature Preserve ​ – Hamilton County

February in Southwest Ohio may be a bit of a slow time for most places. Fernald Nature Preserve in Hamilton County doesn’t slow down though! The diversity and abundance of waterfowl species on the various ponds of this park never cease to amaze me!

Where We Are Birding – January

Where We Are Birding – January

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

Hancock County Sanitary Landfill Wetland – Hancock County

During the Hancock County CBC, OOS member Ed Ingold reported a Northern Shrike, so I headed over for my county first and found the bird within minutes guarding his territory. The landfill wetlands is Prairie, ponds, and woods with small inclines, gravel parking and without restrooms. Besides this Shrike the area is known for having most of the Ohio Sparrows, Short-eared Owls have been heard, waterfowl nest here, and a variety of songbirds can be found.

Kandace Glanville – Central Regional Director

Alum Creek State Park – Delaware County

Alum Creek State Park in Delaware county is a good spot in the winter to look for ducks, gulls, and geese. This winter it has also hosted a Snowy Owl on the dam! There are many vantage points to Alum Creek Lake, as well as a dam and a beach. Take your scope and scour the water for birds if you’re in central Ohio.

Christopher Collins – At-Large Regional Director

Wendy Park, Whiskey Island – Cuyahoga County

Wendy Park, Whiskey Island is one of the best places in the state to look for gulls! The beach provides an excellent view of the channel between the shore and the break wall. The nearby Coast Guard Station allows you to get even further out into the fray. When the ships come through, it can cause quite the frenzy with the gulls. 

Take note – it’s COLD, but worth it. You may even have a chance for Purple Sandpiper along the break wall. Scope highly recommended.

Jon Cefus – East Central Regional Director

Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area and Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area – Wayne County

In January, I’m birding in the marshlands of Wayne County to search for waterfowl, particularly dabblers. My target areas are certainly known to experienced Ohio birders, but if you are new, these areas are likely to become staples of your Ohio birding hotspots. The two primary areas to check are Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area and Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area. When there is open water due to a lack of deep freeze, these areas often hold pockets of ducks, geese, and swans foraging. As conditions get colder and water freezes over, there are often a few pockets of open water, and in these spots ducks can really accumulate. In addition to ducks, geese, and swans, you can often find other species like Red-headed Woodpecker (always an eyeful!), Sandhill Cranes, Northern Harriers, Short-eared Owls, and in many winters, Northern Shrike. See the Birding In Ohio webpage for details on how to check these areas.

Tyler Ficker – Southwest Regional Director

Armleder Park ​ – Hamilton County

Armleder Park in Hamilton County is one of my favorite spots in Ohio. There is always something to see any time of year here. Some of my most fond memories from this park are watching Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers hunt over the fields while searching for wintering sparrows. I always start my year off here!

Melissa Wales – Southeast Regional Director

Hockhocking Adena Bikeway-Armitage Rd. ​- Athens County

The Hockhocking Adena Bikepath is a true gem for cyclists, walkers, runners, and…birders! One of my favorite stretches is the relatively new spur from Armitage Road to Columbus Road. With a beautiful bridge spanning the Hocking River and paved throughout with moderate inclines, it should be accessible for most birders.

I drive to the end of Armitage Road and cross the bike path to park in a gravel area next to the railroad tracks to access the spur. There is also bike path parking on Columbus Road. About a half mile in length, the diverse habitats here include mowed and un-mowed fields, riparian, woodlots, wetlands, and the Hocking River. In winter, it is a good patch for sparrows, woodpeckers, waterfowl, and raptors. On this January day, White-throated Sparrows stole the show against a rare and much appreciated blue sky.

Where We Are Birding – December

Where We Are Birding – December

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

Quarry Farm Nature Preserve and Conservation Farm – Putnam County

This Putnam County area near Cranberry Creek flowing into larger Riley Creek was dredged and straightened in the 1950s to alleviate flooding in the area, but since then family and friends have worked hard on restoring the stream’s riparian corridor, the floodplain, and woodland maintained it as a retreat and nature preserve. With this habitat restoration it follows that good birds are found in the woods along Cranberry Creek, deep in the prairies, nearby abandoned quarries, and even in the barnyard of rescued farm animals.

I’ve also experienced creek walking mid summer for dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies while listening to feeding songbirds. This is a wonderful hours long hike in a small preserve boasting 128 species of birds, but be sure to call ahead to let the owners/friends schedule your private time to visit. Be prepared for rough terrain, slippery rock and wet, wooden walkways, tall grasses requiring bug spray, and friendly hosts showing off the historic cabin and farm animals in the more accessible areas.

Kandace Glanville – Central Regional Director

Buckeye Lake State Park – Licking County

Buckeye Lake State Park in Licking county is a great body of water in central Ohio to check in the winter for ducks, geese, gulls, and any rarities that may have snuck in. There are various vantage points around the lake which you can drive up to, making full access pretty easy.

Diana Steele – Northeast Regional Director

Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve – Cuyahoga County

The 88-acre Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve is one of the top hotspots for Lake Erie birding in December. Once a sunken barge, then a site for dumping river-bottom dredge sludge, the urban wildlife haven grew up as a land where none existed before.

Expect to find abundant waterfowl species and gulls out on the lake, always with a chance of a rarity. In the diverse mix of habitats inland, winter visitors like finches, siskins, juncos, red-breasted nuthatches, and white-throated sparrows flit among the young trees. In the dense pines, Northern Saw-whet Owls are fairly regular winter visitors.

Parking & restrooms are available. Walking is flat but not wheelchair accessible. Great views of downtown Cleveland from the west side overlook.

Jon Cefus – East Central Regional Director

Seneca Lake – Guernsey/Noble County

This month I will be birding the area around Seneca Lake. Seneca Lake touches Guernsey and Noble Counties, so it spans counties in both the East-Central and Southeast OOS areas. Seneca Lake has been one of the most productive inland lakes in this part of Ohio for producing diving ducks, including massive rafts of Loons. When birding the Seneca area, be sure to check out Hatchery Road, which runs along the outflow from the Seneca dam. These hatchery ponds often hold dabbling and diving ducks, and the drained ponds sometimes might hold a lingering shorebird in the winter months. Be sure to check the Birding In Ohio eBird hotspot page to get details on how to bird Seneca Lake. Happy birding!

Tyler Ficker – Southwest Regional Director

Cowen Lake State Park ​ – Clinton County

Cowan Lake SP in Clinton County has diverse habitat around the reservoir that is home to many of our wintering species. What I notice the most is the number of woodpeckers present! All of Ohio’s woodpeckers can be found easily there along with the waterfowl on the lake!

Melissa Wales – Southeast Regional Director

Infirmary Road (CR 14) – Vinton County

Vinton County’s Infirmary Road (CR 14) is about 3 miles northeast of MacArthur, between Highways 93 and 677. It is a hauntingly beautiful stretch of lonely gravel road through grazing fields on a high sloping ridge of what appears to be former strip mine land. There is little traffic and pull offs at field gates where you can safely park and bird. Which I did recently when I learned from former OOS Board Member Alex Eberts that Short-eared Owls were present in late November.

I went a couple of times in the past week and observed upwards of five Short-eared Owls hunting the pasture land and occasionally barking at one another. I always marvel at their beauty – shades of warm brown, tan, yellow, and white and their graceful, low flight pattern over the fields. Northern Harriers were also present with their similar butterfly-like flight style.

I was informed by a local birder that you might also find grassland species there in other seasons, including Horned Lark, Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink, and Dickcissel. Keep birding!

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