Lake Erie Western Basin Important Bird Area

Lake Erie Western Basin
Important Bird Area

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Entire Year – Spring – Summer – Fall – Winter


Castalia Pond
East Sandusky Bay MetroPark
East Sandusky Bay MetroPark--Joseph Steinen Wildlife Area
East Sandusky Bay MetroPark--Putnam Marsh
East Sandusky Bay MetroPark--Stockdale Arboretum
East Sandusky Bay MetroPark--Wyandot Wetland Meadows Preserve
Huron Harbor--Impoundment
Huron Harbor--West Pier
Huron Lighthouse
Kelleys Island
Kelleys Island SP
Kelleys Island--East Quarry
Kelleys Island--Jones Preserve at Long Point
Kelleys Island--North Pond State Nature Preserve
Kelleys Island--North Shore Alvar State Nature Preserve
Kelleys Island--Scheele Preserve
Kelleys Island--South Bay
Kelleys Island--West Bay
Kelleys Island--West Quarry
Lake Erie Pelagic--Littoral (Erie Co.)
Lake Erie Pelagic--Open Water (Erie Co.)
Lake Erie--Kelleys Island Offshore Waters
Lions Park
Medusa Marsh
Medusa Marsh--Barrett Rd.
Medusa Marsh--Martins Point Pool
Nickel Plate Beach
Pipe Creek Wildlife Area
Resthaven Wildlife Area
Resthaven Wildlife Area--Castalia Prairie
Resthaven Wildlife Area--Cement St. Access
Resthaven Wildlife Area--Handicapped Fishing Access
Resthaven Wildlife Area--Heywood Rd.
Resthaven Wildlife Area--Oxbo Rd.
Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve
Sulphur Brook Estuary
Willow Point Wildlife Area
Willow Point Wildlife Area--Eastern Pools
Willow Point Wildlife Area--Fish Work Unit

119th St., Point Place
149th St., Point Place
Anchor Point Rd.
Dry Tree Point
Howard Marsh Metropark
Howard Marsh--Toulon Dr.
Howard Marsh--West Side of Howard Rd.
Magee Marsh (Lucas Co.)
Magee Marsh--Beach East
Magee Marsh--Beach West
Magee Marsh--Boardwalk
Magee Marsh--Causeway Marshes (Lucas Co.)
Magee Marsh--Goosehaven Trail (seasonal)
Magee Marsh--Lakefront Levee Trail (seasonal)
Mallard Club Marsh Wildlife Area
Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area
Metzger Marsh--Bono Rd. Entrance
Metzger Marsh--Causeway Viewing Areas
Metzger Marsh--Outer Dike
Metzger Marsh--Woodlot
North Yondota Rd.
Ottawa NWR (Lucas Co.)
Ottawa NWR--Crane Creek Estuary (Lucas Co.)
Ottawa NWR--Crane Creek Estuary Trail
Ottawa NWR--Metzger Marsh Partnership Trail
Ottawa NWR--Veler Rd.
Ottawa NWR--Wildlife Drive (Lucas Co.)
Park Colony Rd.

Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Trails
Cedar Meadow Preserve
East Harbor SP
East Harbor SP--Beach Ridge
East Harbor SP--Middle Harbor
East Harbor SP--Offshore
East Harbor SP--West Harbor Trail
East Harbor SP--Wetlands Trail
Lake Erie Pelagic--Littoral (Ottawa Co.)
Lake Erie Pelagic--Open Water (Ottawa Co.)
Lake Erie--Ohio Islands Offshore East
Lake Erie--Ohio Islands Offshore West
Lake Erie--US-Canada Border Waters
Little Portage Wildlife Area
Magee Marsh (Ottawa Co.)
Magee Marsh--Causeway Marshes (Ottawa Co.)
Magee Marsh--Entrance Road
Magee Marsh--Migratory Bird Center and Trails
Meadowbrook Marsh
Middle Bass Island
Middle Bass Island SP
Middle Bass Island--Petersen Woods and Kuehnle Wildlife Area
Miller Ferry
Ottawa NWR (Ottawa Co.)
Ottawa NWR--Adam Grimm Prairie
Ottawa NWR--Boss Unit
Ottawa NWR--Crane Creek Estuary (Ottawa Co.)
Ottawa NWR--Darby Unit (restricted access)
Ottawa NWR--Entrance Pool
Ottawa NWR--Fox Nature Preserve
Ottawa NWR--Kontz Unit, Bodi and Lemon Roads
Ottawa NWR--Little Portage Unit (view from roadside only)
Ottawa NWR--Lower Toussaint Unit (restricted access)
Ottawa NWR--Marinewood Unit
Ottawa NWR--Middle Toussaint Unit
Ottawa NWR--Navarre Marsh (restricted access)
Ottawa NWR--Nehls Memorial Preserve
Ottawa NWR--Ottawa-Lucas Co. Rd. (Ottawa Co.)
Ottawa NWR--Pool 1 Trail
Ottawa NWR--Show Pool
Ottawa NWR--Stange Prairie
Ottawa NWR--Turkey Run Unit
Ottawa NWR--Two Rivers Unit, O'Neal Rd. (restricted access)
Ottawa NWR--Two Rivers Unit, West Portage River South Rd.
Ottawa NWR--Upper Toussaint Unit
Ottawa NWR--Visitor Center and Boardwalk
Ottawa NWR--Walking Trail Pools
Ottawa NWR--Walking Trail Woodland
Ottawa NWR--Wildlife Drive (Ottawa Co.)
Ottawa NWR--Woodies Roost Trail
Sackett Cemetery
South Bass Island
South Bass Island SP
South Bass Island--Coopers Woods
South Bass Island--Dodge Woods Preserve
South Bass Island--Jane Coates Wildflower Trail
South Bass Island--Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center
South Bass Island--Lighthouse
South Bass Island--Massie Cliffside Preserve
South Bass Island--Oak Point SP
South Bass Island--Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial
South Bass Island--Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve
South Bass Island--Terwilligers Pond
Starve Island
Turtle Creek Bay (restricted access)
Turtle Creek Estuary--Lemon Rd. Bridge
Turtle Creek Fishing Access

Blue Heron Reserve
Decoy Marsh (scheduled program use only)
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Boggy Bottoms
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Brugger Rd.
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Headquarters Check Station
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Observation Deck
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Ohms Rd. Wetlands
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Parking Area D
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Parking Area E
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Pearson Rd.
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Pump House Wetland
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Sandusky Co. Rd. 232
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Three Eagles Wetland
Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area--Vern Essi Wetland

About Lake Erie Western Basin Important Bird Area

This sprawling IBA includes open lake waters, coastal wetlands, Lake Erie Islands, a large bay, sand beaches, numerous river mouths, deciduous woodlands, and shrublands. It represents the shallow backwater and associated marshes of Lake Erie. Onshore woodlands and shrublands populate ancient beach ridges, remainders from the reduction over geological time of Lake Erie. Between these ancient beach ridges lie the marshlands. The islands include an important nesting island for waterbirds (West Sister Island NWR) and migratory stopover sites for land birds (Bass Islands, Kelleys Island). Sandusky Bay is an important Bald Eagle fall/wintering area. Open waters surrounding the islands and in Sandusky Bay are important waterfowl staging areas.

Various public agencies including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Division of Parks and Recreation, Division of Wildlife) administer much of the habitat. Among the more significant sites are Maumee Bay State Park, Mallard Club Wildlife Area, Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area, Cedar Point NWR, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Darby Unit ONWR, Navarre Unit ONWR, West Sister Island, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Toussaint Wildlife Area, Little Portage Wildlife Area, Kelleys Island, the Bass Islands, Sandusky Bay, Medusa Marsh, Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area, Willow Point Wildlife Area, Resthaven Wildlife Area, and Castalia Pond. Also included are large expanses of privately managed marshland including Winous Point Marsh Conservancy, Ottawa Shooting Club, and Toussaint Shooting Club.

West Sister Island NWR provides nesting habitat for 40% of the breeding herons and egrets within the U.S. Great Lakes Basin. The Western Lake Erie Basin IBA holds the largest concentration of waterfowl anywhere in Ohio during migration. Sandusky Bay and surrounding areas provide refuge for one million waterfowl during fall and early winter staging, with the bay hosting a peak of 290,000 at one time, including up to 67,000 American Black Ducks and over 170,000 Red-breasted Mergansers. Among the other species found there, with maximum counts, are Canvasback (23,700), Redhead (9,300), Gadwall (13,100) Green-winged Teal (15,525), Northern Pintail (14,800), American Wigeon (8,500), Blue-winged Teal (12,400), Common Goldeneye (3,500), Ruddy Duck (3,300), American Coot (7,000), Mallard (100,200), and scaup species (50,600). The state record of 2,285 Bufflehead was recorded around Kelleys Island on 16 Nov 2002(T. Bartlett-Ohio Cardinal). It is increasingly utilized as a wintering area for Tundra Swans (1,000 max. season) and Snow Geese. Thousands of Canada Geese also occur. More than 45,000 waterfowl pass through Ottawa NWR during spring and fall migration. Large concentrations of waterfowl are present in spring with maximum numbers in the 100,000s. April staging in Sandusky Bay totals typical numbers of 25,000-30,000 Lesser Scaup (maximum 40,000), 9,000 Canvasbacks peak daily, and 3,000-5,000 daily Ruddy Ducks (V. Fazio).

Over 100 Bald Eagles regularly concentrate in Sandusky Bay in fall and winter with fall staging numbering as many as 200 in the region. The historical beach ridge bridged by the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area boardwalk is a major conduit for migrant land birds. A second historical beach ridge 7 miles southeast of Magee is the site where Black Swamp Bird Observatory annually bands thousands of neotropical migrants. Over 250 species of birds are recorded annually in the region.

The marshes are the largest breeding and migratory area for rails and bitterns in the state. This includes what may be the only viable population of King Rails in the state.

The northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan marshes are important migratory resting and feeding habitat for shorebirds. The Lake Erie marshes qualify as a Site of Regional Importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network.

Thirty-eight species of shorebirds have been recorded within the marshes since 1993. Spring migration stopover sites include controlled-level marshes and flooded crop fields. In fall, shorebird migration can be concentrated, especially on the Crane Creek estuary. As many as 15,000 shorebirds are recorded during peak days in fall migration. The Crane Creek estuary and several associated marshes comprise the only known eastern U.S. site for Long-billed Dowitchers to stage and molt in fall over the course of several weeks (500-600 max. season in November). Includes federally-designated habitat for Piping Plover. Over 100,000 shorebirds have been documented visiting the northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan marshes annually during northward and southward migrations, with total stopover population estimates ranging from 500,000 to 1 million.

Over 100,000 Double-crested Cormorants have been counted during late summer staging in western Lake Erie.

Migrant land birds pass through the region in the millions according to some estimates. The region is a significant area for breeding of many species including Yellow Warbler, Marsh Wren, and Willow Flycatcher.

From Lake Erie Western Basin Important Bird Area webpage