Fall migration season, July to November, is prime time for birders to observe southbound treks. A peaceful thrill, this more-active form of bird-watching is done on leisurely strolls or strategic cataloging expeditions with groups such as the Blackbrook Audubon Society, which organizes trips at local parks. “[Fall migrants] are not on a mission to hurry up out of town,” says Dan Donaldson of the Blackbrook Audubon Society. “They settle down, feed and rest.” Here are some of Northeast Ohio’s best birding sites and the flyers to look out for.
Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve
A National Natural Landmark since 1966, Mentor Marsh features an upgraded trail system that winds through its boggy landscape. Venture over swampy waters on the Wake Robin Trail, peering into towering reeds to catch a glimpse of the secretive sora, which features a distinguishing bright yellow beak. “Quite elusive, the sora likes to hide out in cattails and tall grasses,” says Pat Morse of the Blackbrook Audubon Society. 5185 Corduroy Road, Mentor, cmnh.org
Sandy Ridge Reservation
Three ecosystems in one, this Lorain Metro Parks reservation is evenly divided into forest, meadow and marsh. Stretching nearly two miles, the main trail features an expanse of marsh teeming with wildlife, including America’s national bird. “The bald eagle’s nest is visible from the trail, and the park actually has a permanent spotting scope mounted right there,” says Morse. 6195 Otten Road, North Ridgeville, metroparks.cc
Whiskey Island’s 22-acre green space hosts 260 species of birds throughout the year. Though the ring-billed gull is the most common sighting here, the double-crested cormorant may be more fun to spot with its bright orange bill. Saunter along the shoreline or any large body of water to witness the double-crested cormorant diving in mid-hunt or flying in V-formation. 2800 Whiskey Island Drive, Cleveland, clevelandmetroparks.com