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.