Birding Hotspots Have Visitors Flocking to the Buckeye State

Bird watching sites draw thousands of travelers to Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 5 /PRNewswire/ — They wait patiently and quietly, listening only to the gentle sounds of the warm spring breeze passing through the trees above and the fleeting chirps of birds in the distance. Their eyes scour the horizon as they watch for tiny flickers of color — all the while hoping to catch a glimpse of something rare and remarkable. Who are these people keeping vigil in the woods? They’re bird watchers. From seasoned ornithologists to backyard birders, visitors are flocking to the Buckeye State.

The annual spring migration of more than 240 bird species like the yellow- bellied warbler, as well as the presence of dozens of species endemic to North America like the bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, short-eared owl and common tern, continue to make Ohio one of the nation’s premier birding destinations. Ohio venues provide spectacular views of species birders expect to see and, in many cases, those they don’t.

“People are still talking about the vermilion flycatcher from the southwest United States that was spotted in Ohio two years ago,” says birder Linda Henry of Auburn Township, Ohio. “Ohio birders also spotted a townsend’s solitaire, which is rarely seen this side of the Rocky Mountains.” Such spottings continue to cement Ohio’s place as a birder watcher’s paradise.

According to a 2001 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study, an estimated 46 million Americans birded in one form or another, from putting food in their backyard feeders, to traveling across the country tracking various species, spending an estimated $85 billion on their hobby.

Ohio offers a number of attractive venues for professional and amateur birders alike. Among the most popular are the 8,000-acre Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, recently listed by “Birder’s World” magazine as the ninth best birding spot in North America, and its neighboring Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge in Lucas and Ottawa counties east of Toledo. Collectively, these venues offer thousands of acres along Lake Erie’s western shoreline and provide up- close views of warblers, tanagers, orioles and grosbeaks.

Magee Marsh will host an estimated 7,000 birders on Saturday, May 14, for International Migratory Bird Day. Thousands of birds, representing 240 species, from Mexico, South America and Central America’s tropics will be passing through the park. In fact, according to Bill Thompson, author and editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, there is almost no better place in North America to see warblers in May. “Magee Marsh ranks as one of the top two or three spring migratory hot spots in the Midwest,” he said.

Also of great interest is Point Pelee National Park. Nearly 350 birds have been recorded at this park, which features a 12-mile, V-shaped peninsula providing an attractive respite for weary birds flying over Lake Erie. During peak spring migratory periods, colorful songbirds such as warblers, verios, thrushes and flycatchers abound.

Other top viewing venues include Kelleys Island, Lake Erie Wing Watch region, East Harbor State Park, Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, Maumee Bay State Park, Killdeer Plains State Wildlife Area and Shawnee State Forrest.

General information on Ohio birds and birding can be found by visiting the Ohio Ornithological Society’s Web site at www.ohiobirds.org . While birding in Ohio, visitors will find a number of overnight accommodations to choose from, including state park lodges, area bed and breakfasts, inns, cabins and hotels. For more information about Ohio lodging, dining, travel specials, shopping and more, call 1-800-BUCKEYE or visit www.DiscoverOhio.com .

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