Bird Watching - Birding in Lake County Ohio

No longer the hobby of little old ladies in tennis shoes, outdoor enthusiasts of all ages enjoy watching birds year-round in beautiful Lake County. Lake Erie and its beachfront shores, river valleys, hemlock ravines, hardwood forests, edge habitats and open fields provide an amazing diversity of habitats. Within these green spaces, available food, water and shelter provide for birds and other wildlife. Do you like owls, eagles, hummingbirds and warblers? You can see them here, and much more! Because, while Lake Erie impacts our weather, our agriculture, and our play time, it also impacts birds, what they do and where they can be found. An amazing 90% of all bird species possible to see in Ohio (408 species total) have been seen along the lakeshore. Springtime south winds bring colorful feathered migrants that have wintered in warmer climates. Many stop to rest and feed along the lake, and some stay for a few days before favorable weather spurs them to continue their journey to nesting sites near and far. In the fall, north winds push species that have nested in Canada’s boreal forests or high arctic to the lakeshore on their way south, often stopping again to feed and rest on or near this huge body of water.  Lake County has some outstanding bird (and birder) friendly locations. The new Lake Erie Birding Trail was recently formed through partnerships with the ODNR/Division of Wildlife, OSU Sea Grant, and more than 30 federal, state, county and local management agencies. The trail connects 84 birding hotspots along the 312-mile Ohio/Lake Erie shoreline (from Conneaut to Toledo); visit  Lake Erie Birding Trail or OhioBirds for additional details.
   Above photo by Chris Zimmer
While Magee Marsh is world famous for warblers during spring migration, a couple of hours to the east, along the shores of Lake Erie, you will find areas that offer amazing birding, species not found at Magee, and the surrounding areas, and a natural beauty unlike the flat corn and bean fields of western Ohio. With 341 species Lake County is very well known in Ohio’s birding community for both abundance of birds and rarities. On eBird Lake County is in the top 5 of Ohio counties. The area offers spectacular, year round, birding in a less crowded, more diverse, and beautiful habitat. Plus, with downtown Cleveland just 20 to 30 minutes away, easy access to food, arts, and culture unsurpassed in the entire great lakes region. It is the best of all possible combinations. 
Lake County - Ohio’s Often Overlooked Birding Hotspot By Haans Petruschke (pdf)
Headdlands Beach State Park
9601 Headlands Rd., Mentor (take State Route 44 North to Lake Erie)
120-acre lakefront park boasts a mile long natural sand beach – Ohio’s longest. Features guarded swimming beach, restrooms, changing rooms, outdoor showers, 1 1/2 mile paved hiking trail, fishing, playground and large shaded picnic area with grills. To reserve a picnic sh
elter call (216) 881-8141. Free parking.
Holden Arboretum        
9500 Speery Road, Kirtland 44094
(440) 946-4400  The rare Townsend Solitaire is one of the many rare species which visited Holden
Lake Metroparks - Birding
Call (440) 639-7275. Offering six sites, including two along the lakefront; Arcola Creek Park and Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park (fall and winter); plus Chapin Forest Reservation, Penitentiary Glen Reservation, Girdled Road Reservation and Hell Hollow Wilderness Area. Additional sites that are not to be missed include recently opened lakefront access at Lake Erie Bluffs in Perry Township, and Chagrin River Park in Eastlake and Willoughby.
According to Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in 2006 there were an estimated 4.3 million wildlife watchers in Ohio. Approximately 120,000 out-of-state birders visited Ohio in 2006, with Lake Erie being the most popular destination, spending more than $1.2 billion on supplies, lodging, gasoline, travel expenses and food. Every dollar is a boost to Ohio and its local economies. So roll out the welcome mat for birds and the birders! And the next time you are enjoying a beautiful day in Lake County, don’t forget to look up!
Lake Metroparks Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park                
301 Huntington Beach Dr. Fairport Harbor 44077. High St., north of Second St. (440) 639-9972.  21-acre lakefront park features restrooms, showers, changing rooms, concessions, an amphitheater, volleyball courts, a playground and picnic area with grills. Food concession open daily, weather permitting, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. A $2 parking fee applies to Lake County residents, $3 for out of county residents. Host site to Lake County Visitors Bureau’s Perch Fest.
Lake Metroparks  Penitentiary Glen Reservation
8668 Kirtland-Chardon Rd; Kirtland, OH 44094 440-256-1404
Witness the most beautiful birds in the feeder garden from the comfort of the observation room of the main building. Humming birds dance across the window moving from feeder to feeder in plain view. Beneath are found ducks, geese and chipmunks. A multitude of birds find their way into the garden and are appreciated by all that visit. Staff are available for questions and conversation. Afterwards visitors can see the care given to birds and animals in need at the wildlife rehab center. Bring your camera.
Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve
8365 Harbor Drive, Mentor 44060 (440) 205-3625
The Preserve serves as an important breeding and nursery area for fish and waterfowl and provides a resting place for neo-tropical birds and butterflies as they migrate each year. Golf cart rentals available Mon.-Fri. for seniors and physically challenged.
Mentor Marsh        
Carol H. Sweet Nature Center  440-257-0777
During spring and fall migration season over 250 species of birds can be found. Trails are open daily, year-round, dawn to dusk. Home to the Carol H. Sweet Nature Center  located at 5185 Corduroy Road and is open to the public on weekends from Noon to 5 p.m., from April through October. Every Sunday at 2 p.m., a guided walk and/or special program is offered. There is no charge and everyone is welcome. Programs for groups are available by appointment at a nominal charge.

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