Here are some of our favorite local birding sites:
Cleveland Lake-front State Park (Cuyahoga County) Cleveland, OH
In wintertime as Lake Erie freezes, this area remains open due to the warm water discharge from the dormant power plant. This is the location to see a great many diving ducks such as scaup, canvasback, redhead, ruddy duck, goldeneye, bufflehead, all three species of mergansers and many species of gulls reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s film “The Birds”.
Both of these locations offer the same opportunities as Cleveland Lake Front State Park due to the warm water discharge keeping an area ice free for most of the winter.
Sandy Ridge Park (Lorain County) North Ridgeville, OH
In spring as soon as the ice goes out at the mid to end of March or early April there is an abundance of many species of dabbling ducks resting and refueling on their northward migration. Species such as pintail, wood duck, gadwall, blue-winged and green-winged teal and mallard are commonly spotted.
The first two and a half weeks in May offer nonpareil wood warbler watching which is among the best in the world. The 2nd weekend in May is the peak migration. It is always a race between full leaf-out (which can obscure these colorful gems) and the heaviest migration time. One caution is to mentally prepare for an abundance of birders on the board walk which can be extremely crowded with watchers and photographers. Almost everybody is friendly and helpful in sharing unusual sightings. A visit to this location is an absolute must.
Mentor Marsh (Lake County) Mentor, OH
This state park is interesting at any time of year with unusual sightings regularly turning up. It is especially profitable in spring when the heaviest migration is on. The habitat is unusual for Ohio in that it is one of the largest sand/dune beaches in Northeastern Ohio with a coastal forest still intact.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Cuyahoga/Summit County)
This is a large area of diverse habitats that attract both migratory and resident birds. Springtime along the tow-path at the Station Road entrance in Brecksville is excellent for warblers including nesting yellow-throated warbler and nesting cerulean warbler. Also commonly seen are scarlet tanagers, Baltimore orioles, indigo buntings, pileated woodpeckers and wood ducks. There are also locations where peregrine falcons and bald eagles can be seen nesting.
Coliseum Grasslands (Summit County)
This is the former sight of the Cleveland Coliseum that has been allowed to go back to nature. It is located on State Route 303 at the I-271 exit ramp. It is known for grassland species such as grasshopper sparrow, eastern meadow lark and short-eared owl at the appropriate season.
Frohring Meadows (Geauga County) Bainbridge Township on Savage Road
This is another grassland habitat with much of it a wet meadow offering opportunities for plovers, sandpipers, Wilson’s snipe and other shorebirds a spot for rest and refueling on their northward migration. A large area has been planted with tall grass prairie grass and plants. Short-eared owls are spotted regularly in the winter. Woodcocks put on their show in the spring. Expect other grassland species also.