Explore the national park in our backyard for fabulous birding

Looking for summer birds? Check out Ohio's only national park
When I was a student at the University of Akron, I launched a writing project about a dream plan I had heard about that required me to interview my congressman, U.S. Rep. John Seiberling of Akron.
Seiberling had a vision for a federal land grant that would preserve a green buffer zone between Cleveland and Akron, protecting the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga River corridor from almost certain development.
Today, 45 years later, Seiberling’s dream is a reality: the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, an environmental treasure and one of the best birding destinations in Northeast Ohio.
So when my son, Bret, recently came home for a visit and suggested we spend some quality time birding, it was only logical we would head out for the CVNP.
Bret has been my birding partner since he was 12, and is one of the best birders I know. He graduated from Columbia University, and is preparing to begin his second year at the New Jersey Medical School, so…

Bald eagles aren't the only target birds at Sandy Ridge

Birders venture to Lorain County for avian beauties

There’s a wonderful wetland habitat in Lorain County that is familiar to birders and hikers, but a mystery to many people outside of the North Ridgeville area.
The Sandy Ridge Reservation is a 310-acre wildlife preserve that’s been open to the public for 20 years, sitting like a hidden oasis of woodlands, ponds and meadows, surrounded by a burgeoning sea of new housing developments.
During the waning weeks of the summer doldrums, when other parks in Northeast Ohio are quiet and uninviting as the birds seek shelter from the blistering sun, Sandy Ridge remains active and one of the most rewarding destinations for birders and nature walkers in the Cleveland area.
The wetlands are easily navigable via a network of flat, gravel paths atop raised earthen dikes. The trails pass through wide expanses of marsh grasses, shrubs and wildflowers, primarily swamp and common milkweed, wild monarda, Joe Pye weed, ironweed, sunflowers, and button bush, m…

To beat the summer heat birders should learn the songs

Summer heat, heavy foliage adds to birding difficulty; knowing the songs helps
Contrary to a widespread misconception, the summer months are NOT the best time for birding in Northeast Ohio.
Which is not to say there aren’t plenty of desirable species to see during the hot and humid span of late June, July and August. The conditions just require birders to make a few adjustments in their approach, and to work a little harder to locate and spot the birds.
Fortunately, the majority of summer birds are in the process of finding mates, defending territory, nesting and raising young, which inspires the males to sing. So it helps to know your songs.
Summer trees and shrubs are lush with foliage, providing sources of food and cover for the birds, but making sightings especially difficult for birders. Knowing the songs is beneficial in this pursuit.
All of these factors came into play during a few recent bird walks through some of the best local habitats. At each of the sites, the only realistic op…
A Carolina vacation provides Ohioans colorful birds, tasty seafood and sunny weather
The hot, sunny shores of South Carolina have long held a magical appeal for Ohioans seeking a vacation from the cool, wet springs of the Midwest.
Clear evidence of this can be found in the plethora of license plates from the Buckeye State on the Carolina roads and parking lots, and in the chance meetings of fellow Ohioans wearing Cavs, Indians and Browns T-shirts.
But the Carolina coast and the surrounding Low Country region near Charleston also can provide an especially exciting opportunity for Ohio birders.
My family has been visiting this part of South Carolina for nearly 30 years, and most recently for a week at the Kiawah Island Resort the first week of June.
The beaches , pine woodlands and brackish swamps of the area provide habitat for dozens of bird species seldom found in Ohio. And as a reward, the ocean waters are rich with shrimp caught daily by boats typically mobbed by gulls and pelicans, and…

Aerial View Redux: The joys of birding the Spring Migration

The melodic sounds of spring migration return to Northeast Ohio

As we transition from the spring migration to the summer breeding season, it’s a good time to look back on one of the most exciting months of birding in Ohio in memory.
After 27 years at The Plain Dealer, I was liberated from the 40-hour work week following my retirement March 1, which provided an unprecedented opportunity to birdwatch and to help others seek birds during what most consider the best birding month of the year.
Blessed with a newfound luxury of free time, I didn’t confine my birding to Northeast Ohio, which unfortunately experienced a delayed songbird migration due to cool, wet weather and the absence of beneficial southerly winds.
My longtime birding buddy Jeff Wert and I kicked off the season at Shawnee State Park, a magical forest located along the Ohio River in Scioto County, where spring typically arrives a month earlier than in the Cleveland area. Included among the 99 species and 23 warblers we observed…
New birders enjoy the beauty of Spring Migration at Cleveland lakefront preserve
One of the greatest rewards for being a birder is sharing my love for these beautiful plumed creatures with non-birders, especially while exploring some of the best birding habitats found anywhere in Northeast Ohio.
My most recent opportunity to serve as a tour guide and birding ambassador came May 5 on behalf of the Fairview Park Women’s Club, philanthropic organization that does amazing work helping needy families, sponsoring sports teams and providing scholarships and grants to promising high school students.
This year, the Women’s Club raised more than $13,000 in charitable contributions, with a large chunk of it coming from the annual Wine Tasting & Silent Auction, to which I had donated a bird walk. The winning bid was cast by Diane Faile, who invited along about a dozen of her friends for a morning walk at one of the birdiest parks in the area, the Cleveland…
Ohio City construction project works around nesting falcons

With an $11 million restoration project of the historic Forest City Bank building in Ohio City nearing completion, the last thing superintendent Walt Gachuk needed to throw off his scheduled fall opening was a bird nest in the attic.

Not just any bird nest, but a pair of American kestrels with five eggs in the nest, hidden behind a hole in the soffits that skirt the roof of the old brick building located at the intersection of Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street.
The building once housed the now-closed Massimo da Milano and Keifer’s restaurants. Now its only residents are a pair of kestrels, North America’s smallest falcon, about the size of a mourning dove.
But Gachuk was unaware of his feathered guests until last week, after his workers at the Snavely Building Group prepared to repair the hole in the soffit. Suddenly, they were dive-bombed by the kestrels. Gachuk contacted the Ohio Division of Wildlife, which inspected the nest…