Firelands Audubon Society 2017

Birding locations in the Firelands Area

This area is rich in birds and biodiversity. A multitude of habitats can be explored and enjoyed within the Firelands area. The Lake Erie Western Basin is designated as a globally IMPORTANT BIRD AREA (IBA). The following list consists of a few birding locations. Many of these areas are vast and under-birded, so take the time to enjoy these hidden gems and discover all that our area has to offer. 

Edison Woods Metropark 

With approximately 1300 acres of sandstone cliffs, wetlands, woodlands, and meadows, Edison Woods is home to a variety of seasonal wild flowers, rare plants, amphibians and reptiles. Edison Woods MetroPark includes approximately 550 acres of wetland habitats and 400 acres of restored native grasslands. Features include ~6 miles of wooded & prairie trails, the Adventure Walkway boardwalk and Geocaching. This is the only park where horseback riding is permitted. Trailer parking located at SR 61 entrance and Smokey Rd. entrance. The trails are monitored by the Ohio Horseman’s Council. This MetroPark is part of the Lake Erie Birding Trail!

Resthaven Wildlife Area (IBA)
The Resthaven Wildlife Area is at the northern edge of Castalia on the west side of State Route 269. Totaling 2,272 acres, the area includes 444 acres of water. Most of the land is in woodland and shrubby cover. Approximately 90 acres is in crop rotation. Sixteen percent of the land is grassland. More than half the area had been strip mined for marl (a deposit of calcium carbonate or dolomite) prior to purchase by the Division of Wildlife. This mining left a very rough surface which has reverted to woody vegetation and cattails. Wildlife species occupying the area range from resident to transient. Bird species ranging from the large wading birds to warblers and mammals common to this region of the state can be found at Resthaven. Moth and butterfly populations on this wildlife area also attract special attention. 
Willow Point Wildlife Area  (IBA)

This 645-acre wildlife area is located in Erie and Sandusky counties, seven miles west of the city of Sandusky. The area can be reached from U.S. Route 6 by traveling north on Sandusky County Road 290 or by going west on Erie County Road 35 (Wahl Road).  The area lies on the southern shore of Sandusky Bay. Two-thirds of the area is open water and marshland. Cattails are the primary vegetation in the marshes. Much of the remaining acreage is open land. This area harbors a number of waterfowl species during spring and fall migrations. Mallard, wood duck, black duck, blue-winged teal, and green-winged teal are the more abundant species, with widgeon, pintail, gadwall, and shoveler appearing in smaller numbers. Canada geese also use the area. Other bird species include the tundra swan, common tern, great blue heron, great egret, black-crowned night heron, woodcock, snipe, sora, Virginia rail, and mourning dove. Some of the best birding in Ohio is found in this region. The geographic location of Willow Point, along the southern shore of Lake Erie, accounts for high numbers of waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds, and hawks during the spring and fall migrations. Rarities such as little blue heron, king rail, black tern, short-eared owl, and yellow-headed blackbird are possible at Willow Point. Bald eagles nest in the vicinity and both adults and immatures are frequently seen year-round. 

Pipe Creek Wildlife Area

The Pipe Creek Wildlife Area is located within the city limits of Sandusky, behind the Big Island water treatment facility. It overlooks Sandusky Bay. The area can be reached by following U.S. Route 6 to Sandusky, turn north onto Cedar Point Causeway, then east onto River Avenue; or follow State Route 4 to Sandusky, turn northeast onto Monroe Street, then east onto First Street, then south onto F Street.  The 97-acre area is situated on the former Big Island Wetland Complex on the southern shore of Sandusky Bay. Most of the area is a diked marsh, with the remaining acreage comprising flat-topped dikes. The marsh areas are shallow, varying from one to three feet in depth, with the exception of channels up to eight feet in depth which were created for efficient water level control of the area. This area is managed principally for wetland wildlife. Wildlife found on the area include puddle ducks, common snipe, sora and Virginia rail and Canada geese. Other species that can be seasonally observed are bald eagles, common tern, Caspian tern, godwits, sandpipers, and various other wetland-dependent species

Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve  (IBA)

This preserve is known to attract nearly 300 bird species and provides habitat for many kinds of wildflowers. Spring is one of the best times to visit the marsh. From the middle of April into June, the woodland floor is covered with blooming wildflowers. Spring migration brings a variety of neotropical and shorebirds to Sheldon Marsh . Before crossing Lake Erie these birds stop briefly to rest and feed among the lush vegetation of the forest. Along the barrier sand beach, numerous shorebirds are frequently seen searching for food at the water's edge.

Summer residents include great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, black-crowned night-herons, wood ducks, common terns, woodcocks, great horned owls and numerous songbirds.

Castalia State Fish Hatchery

7018 Homegardner Rd., Castalia · 419-684-7499

Open Monday through Friday from 8am-3pm. Managed by Ohio Division of Wildlife.

With open water year-round, this birding site deserves your attention. As part of the Castalia Blue Hole system of underground springs, the area provides a unique birding experience. With the available supply of fish, herons and egrets are common. Portable rest rooms April through October.

From Route 2, exit Route 6 Sandusky/Fremont exit, and follow Route 6 east towards Sandusky. Almost immediately, turn right on Bardshar Rd. and follow to Homegardner Rd. Turn right (west) onto Homegardner Rd. Watch for signs.

The Castalia Quarry Reserve

This abandoned limestone quarry surrounded by forest and fields. The Quarry Rim Trail offers excellent views of migrating raptors plus habitats for smaller birds. Trails on the north side of Route 101 just off the parking lot are good places to see migrating wetland species. A walk-up observation tower allows broad landscape views of raptors and other passing birds.

Restrooms open seasonally, two miles of natural and gravel trails.

Located on Route 101, two miles west of Castalia.

Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area

3451 County Rd. 256, Vickery · 419-547-6007

Open dawn to dusk, year-round. Managed by Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.

With its grasslands and flooded marshes, this 1,200-acre site attracts waterfowl during spring and fall migrations. Dikes running throughout the area permit the visitor to walk for miles in search of songbirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Visitors center, access is restricted certain times of the year.

Located on Route 6, nine miles west of Sandusky.

East Harbor State Park

1169 N. Buck Rd., Marblehead · 419-734-4424

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, East Harbor offers a variety of birding habitats.

With over seven miles of trails winding through meadows, woods and wetlands, the visitor is able to view migratory waterfowl and shorebirds in addition to local species. Restrooms, camping, boat dockage, beach.

From Route 2, exit on Route 269 north, towards Marblehead. Follow signs.