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!