Shenango Wildlife Area

Shenango Wildlife Area

Kinsman, Ohio 44428

Official Website
Shenango Wildlife Area map

Tips for Birding

The Wildlife Area follows the course of Pymatuning creek for about 13 miles from Orangeville north almost to the Ashtabula County line. Although 4,845 acres in size, the area is never more than a mile in width, generally paralleling OH-7, which provides access to various parking areas along the way. Most of the terrain is obviously rolling, composed geologically of glacial outwash, with visible kames and eskers. Varied habitats are present. More than half is second-growth woodland, much of it moist and swampy. The remainder is composed of brushy fields, wetlands, and a small number of cultivated fields. Several large open marshes are present as well as a number of beaver ponds. The Area is described from south to north. Go north on OH-7 from Brookfield and turn east (right) on OH-609.

Where OH-609 ends in Orangeville, turn left on Stateline Road and then left again after about a mile onto Orangeville-Kinsman Rd. Proceed about 3 miles to the first road on the left, Milligan Road, and turn left. Go about a mile, and park in the large gravel parking lot on the left side of the road. Contrary to what most maps show, Milligan Road is not open all the way west to OH-7. This park point provides access to the best and most accessible birding in the refuge. The brushy wet meadow to the east of the lot usually has singing Alder Flycatchers during the nesting season. On the south side of the lot, a short path leads to the edge of a large, constructed marsh that hosts breeding Pied-billed Grebes, Soras, Virginia Rails, Common Moorhens, and Hooded Mergansers, to name a few. Trumpeter Swans have nested here the last 2 years and may approach aggressively. Orchard Orioles, not common in this part of the state, prefer this stretch of Milligan Road and have nested here annually for several years. From the parking lot walk west on the road and you will cross the dike that creates the marsh. The dike provides excellent views both to the north and south. A telescope is helpful in viewing distant waterfowl. A large stand of dead trees to the north has hosted Red-headed Woodpeckers for many years. Bald Eagles fly over frequently as they have a nest just a few hundred yards to the north. The woods at the west side of the dike hold nesting Least Flycatchers annually. (all four of Ohio’s breeding Empidonax nest along Milligan Rd.). Continue walking west and you will come to a metal bridge that spans Pymatuning Creek, providing good views of the surrounding woodland. There is another parking lot just west of the bridge that can be accessed by turning east on Milligan Road from OH-7, providing an alternate access point to the entire area just described.

After leaving this site continue north on Orangeville Kinsman Road for about a mile and turn left (west) on OH-88. At about one-half mile there is a parking lot on the right. Alder Flycatchers nest in the open area here and can be located by their song.

Continue west about a mile and turn north on OH-7. Go about 6 miles, following the signs for OH-7 when going through the village of Kinsman, and then turn left (west) on OH-87. Go about two miles and park in the small gravel lot located on the south side of the road just before the bridge that crosses Pymatuning Creek. A path leads from the lot to an abandoned railroad bed that traverses a brushy swamp a couple of hundred yards to the edge of the creek. Nesting species easily observed from here include Red-headed Woodpecker and Prothonotary Warbler. This area is an outstanding place to observe migratory waterfowl in early spring as they seem to converge here, passing by in flocks almost continuously when the weather is right (study your ducks in flight field guide plates!).

This out-of-the-way state wildlife area is seldom birded. It contains some pristine marshes and natural wetlands along the creek that could produce some worthwhile surprises with a little searching.

About 25 miles north of Youngstown and 8 miles north of Brookfield along OH-7.

Open all year during daylight hours.

For geology buffs, a small glacial kettle depression can be viewed just north of the town square when passing through Kinsman. There is a small sign describing it. It is dry because the gravelly soil drains quickly.

Birds of Interest

Northern Shrikes probably frequent some of the fields.
Great for migrant waterfowl. Black Terns may visit Milligan Road Marsh in spring.
Good for nesting wetland birds mentioned above. Alder and Least Flycatchers. Bald Eagles- at least 2 nests.
Migrant waterfowl, but more protracted than in spring.

About this Location

The Shenango Wildlife Area is situated in northeastern Ohio, in eastern Trumbull County, 22 miles north of Youngstown. It extends from Orangeville northwest along Pymatuning Creek, nearly to the Ashtabula County line. Most of the area is paralleled by OH-7 on the west and Orangeville-Kinsman Road on the east. OH-88 crosses the center of the area.

Topography ranges from gently sloping to nearly level. The soils are moderately well drained and of low to moderate fertility. Approximately 60 percent of the habitat consists of second-growth hardwoods. The timber stands are mainly pin oak, green ash, elm, sugar and red maples, and a mixture of hickories. Index of Ohio’s trees from the Division of Forestry. Cropland and open land make up 21 percent, brushland 15 percent, and wetlands 4 percent of the wildlife area.

The Shenango Wildlife Area consists of the Ohio portion of the Shenango River Reservoir project owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938. The Shenango dam was completed in July 1965. There is no reservoir within the Ohio portion of the project; the dam and all waters are in Pennsylvania, except during extreme flood conditions. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife, has administered the lands under a long-term license with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since 1968.

Wildlife management activities have included the development and management of several hundred acres of grain crops and meadows, primarily for food and nesting of upland game and waterfowl. Woods have been protected and improved. Some former pastures and crop fields have been selected to return to woodland through natural succession and planting of thousands of trees and shrubs; vegetation in others is regulated by controlled burning, selective spraying, bush hogging, and the establishment of food patches for general wildlife use. Waterfowl production has been enhanced by providing nest structures for wood ducks.


  • Restrooms on site

Content from Official Website and Ohio Ornithological Society