At the Symposium: Birding Sites
About the Sites
Lakeside, Ohio, is located along the shoreline in the center of the Lake Erie Western Basin. The entire area of marshlands and shoreline is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA).
The Lake Erie Western Basin offers extensive marshes and water spots that attract all kinds of wading, shore, and water birds. The woodlands surrounding these areas also attract large quantities of beautiful songbirds.
The MBS schedule will take full advantage of the fall migration season, which always brings avian surprises to the surrounding areas.
Transportation to and from these birding sites is on your own. All sites will have volunteer guides on hand during the morning birding hours of the MBS. Links are included below to show full details, maps, and directions. All map files are available in .pdf format. If you do not have the Acrobat Reader, you can download it from Adobe.com.
ON-SITE BIRDING GUIDES: On the mornings of Friday, September 20 and Saturday, September 21 during the 2013 MBS there will be birding guides at each of these designated sites. These volunteer guides will lead small groups of MBS attendees in the field. If you wish to go bird watching with an MBS guide, plan to be on site early. Guides will assemble birding groups as MBS participants arrive each morning. Due to the large number of MBS attendees, we are keeping the guides/groups arrangements necessarily informal and flexible. We appreciate your cooperation.
Some wildlife areas (not listed here as official MBS birding sites) may allow waterfowl hunting during the MBS weekend. Please obey all signs about closed hunting areas.
A birder doesn't even have to leave the grounds of the beautiful Lakeside community to find plenty of birds. Towering oaks and other trees provide great resting and foraging habitat for migrant songbirds that have just made the Lake Erie crossing. Lakeside's pier, jutting into the lake, often has roosting gulls and sometimes terns, and venturing to the tip of the pier gives one an excellent "sea watch" vantage point. Visiting the pier on a quiet fall evening is interesting, as one can hear the flight calls of numerous thrushes, warblers, and other passerines as they make their nocturnal peregrinations.
Marblehead Lighthouse State Park
- Directions from Lakeside: Departing from the main Lakeside gate: Turn left onto OH 163 West (East Harbor Road). Drive for 2.1 mi.
Look for signs for the park on your left. Turn left onto Lighthouse Drive.Meet: in the parking lot. Look for MBS signs/guides.
- Approximate Distance/Time: 2.1 miles / 4 minutes
- Must-see picturesque Marblehead Lighthouse.
- Excellent birding in the surrounding shrubby thickets and woods.
This new, nine-acre state park features one of the most photographed landmarks along the Great Lakes: the picturesque Marblehead Lighthouse, completed in 1822. Being right on the shore of the lake, the birding can be excellent in the surrounding shrubby thickets and woods. Exhausted migrant songbirds often plunk down in these lakeside habitats, and can be admired at close range. Waterbirds passing by on the lake can be interesting, and occasionally shorebirds such as ruddy turnstone forage along the rocky shoreline.
- Directions from Lakeside: Departing Lakeside's main gate, turn right (west) on State Route 163 (E. Harbor Road). Go about 3/4 mile, then turn left (south) at the first major left, S. Quarry Rd. (Twp Hwy 218). Continue straight south for about 2 miles on this road, which changes name to Hartshorn Road (Twp Hwy 140) after about 0.8 mile and then joins South Bayshore Road (County Rd 135) in another 0.6 mile. After about another half mile, this main road curves around toward the west (right) and changes name to East Bayshore Road. The entrance to the parking area for Meadowbrook Marsh will be on the north (right) side of the road.
- Total distance about 3.5 miles; driving time about 8 minutes.
- Meet: Look for MBS signs/guides.
- Approximate Distance/Time: 4.3 miles / 8 minutes
- A nice freshwater estuary that is home to herons, egrets, bitterns, bald eagles, and a variety of waterfowl.
- Large deciduous trees at Meadowbrook Marsh lure migrant birds out of the sky.
The history of Meadowbrook is an inspiring story of dedication by those who believe in the value of natural areas. In 2000, Danbury Township Trustees made an unprecedented purchase of 33 acres of forest and wetland area. Township residents Tim Nash and his late wife, Sylvia, graciously donated this property to the township. Through many grants and the funds collected through the Carbon Offset Bird Project during the 2011 MBS, Meadowbrook has expanded to 113 acres of beautiful wetland marsh, forest, meadow, and grassland.
The wetland located on the west side of the bridge will never experience development and is home to an amazing selection of waterfowl. You may view it from the dike but please be careful as you walk along heavily traveled Bayshore Road. On the east side of the bridge you will enjoy an observation deck, 2,800 feet of ADA-accessible paved trails and another 3,000+ feet of mulched and grass trails. Birds here may include migratory shorebirds, warblers, bald eagles and other raptors, and a good variety of native sparrows.
East Harbor State Park
- Direction from Lakeside: Departing from the main Lakeside gate: Turn right onto OH 163 West (East Harbor Road). Drive 1 mile, look for signs to the park entrance. Follow signs to the beach or to the Lockwood picnic shelter.
- Approximate Distance/Time: 6 miles / 8 minutes
- This was the spot where a Kirtland's warbler was found during the 2009 MBS!
- Within East Harbor State Park there are two MBS birding sites: Lockwood/Middle Harbor and East Harbor Dunes/Beach (see below).
East Harbor Dunes/Beach
Hard on the Lake Erie shoreline, East Harbor offers a diverse blend of mature swamp woods, shrubby thickets, beach, marsh, and open water. The park has certainly attracted great rarities; for instance, a Kirtlandís warbler appeared at East Harbor during the 2009 MBS! The sheltered large bays lure scads of waterbirds, including most of the regionís regularly occurring dabblers and divers. Lots of gulls and terns frequently collect on the beach, and they are worth picking through for unusual species such as least tern, Franklinís gull, or lesser black-backed gull.
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area
- Directions from Lakeside: Departing from the main Lakeside gate: Turn right onto OH-163 W (E Harbor Rd). Drive 4.1 mi.
Turn left onto OH-269 S (Bridge Rd) 2.2 mi. Continue to follow OH-269 S.Keep right at the fork, follow signs for OH-2 W/Port Clinton/Toledo and merge onto OH-2 W. Drive 22.3 mi. Watch for signs for Magee Marsh WA. Turn right onto Park Rd 1Meet: At the world-famous bird trail along the lakefront.Cross the causeway and turn left, drive to the end of the parking lot, look for signs for the bird trail. There you will find MBS guides in their MBS hats.
- Approximate Distance/Time: 31 miles / 38 minutes
- State Wildlife Area
- An undisputed legend among North American birding locales, the famous boardwalk ranks high on many birders' lists of favorite places.
- 2,000 acres offer a world-famous spring warbler migrant trap on the Lake Erie shoreline.
- Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center has an exhibit area, birders resources, and restrooms. Open Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- Friends of Magee Marsh gift shop with all profits going back to improve Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.
Perhaps the most iconic birding hotspot in the southern Great Lakes region, Magee attracts thousands of birders annually. Two thousand acres of outstanding marshes abut Lake Erie, and lure scores of waterbirds. To date, almost 340 species have been tallied at Magee--82 percent of all the species thus far found in Ohio. This may be the most reliable site away from the breeding grounds to find Kirtland's warbler, and scores of other rarities have turned up here. A highlight is the seven-acre patch of woods that harbors the world famous "Bird Trail." Migrants abound along this boardwalk, and it is a must-visit site for any birder exploring Ohio's Great Lake region.
Black Swamp Bird Observatory
- Directions from Lakeside: Follow directions (above) to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. BSBO is located at the entrance to Magee Marsh WA, just off OH 2.
- Approximate Distance/Time: 30 miles / 30 minutes
- Free Songbird Banding and Migration Program on Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 a.m.
- Walking Trail
- Area Birding Maps created by Kenn Kaufman
- Window on Wildlife
- Rain Garden
- Gift Store
- Located at the entrance to the world-famous Magee Marsh Wildlife Area; voted one of North America's top 10 birding destinations!
Located in the remnants of the once vast Great Black Swamp region of Northwest Ohio, Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) is a 510(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to promoting sound stewardship of avian resources in the Lake Erie Marsh Region. BSBO teams research with education to promote bird conservation. BSBO is the proud sponsor of the Ohio Young Birders Club!
BSBO's songbird banding and migration programs offer detailed information on BSBO's migration studies. These informative programs also provide up close looks at beautiful migratory birds, and share more about the critical stopover habitat that the Lake Erie Marsh Region represents. Stop by the BSBO headquarters on Saturday and/or Sunday morning for this unique birding opportunity!
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
- Directions from Lakeside: Departing from the main Lakeside gate:Turn right onto OH-163 W (E Harbor Rd.) Drive 4.1 mi. Turn left onto OH-269 S (Bridge Rd) 2.2 mi. Continue to follow OH-269 S. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for OH-2 W/Port Clinton/Toledo and merge onto OH-2 W. Drive 23.8 mi.
Turn right at the sign for the refuge. Follow signs to the trail parking Lot.Meet: For guided birding meet in the Ottawa NWR trail parking lot.For self-guided birding on the Ottawa Auto Tour, follow the signs for the Auto Tour.
- Approximate Distance/Time: 31 miles / 38 minutes
- National Wildlife Refuge
- The refuge's Self Guided Auto Tour will be open Thursday-Sunday, September 19, 20, 21 and 22 from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.
- 9,000 acres of marshes, open water, wooded coastal wetlands, and grasslands.
More than 8,000 acres of Lake Erie marshes attract a dazzling variety of birds. Shorebirds can be exceptionally plentiful, and nearly every species thus far recorded in Ohio has been found here. Peregrine falcons make frequent forays through the marshes, and bald eagles are guaranteed. Trails through wooded areas offer a chance to see many migrating warblers, vireos, thrushes, and other songbirds. The modern visitors' center has fine educational displays, and a boardwalk behind the center leads through a variety of habitats. Many a rarity has also been found at Ottawa, including vermilion flycatcher, black-necked stilt, and white-winged dove.