Birding Drives are routes for birding trips which can be accomplished in one day, stopping to walk and bird at various eBird hotspots. For each birding drive, a Google map is provided with the route and suggested stops at eBird hotspots. You may save the link to the Google map on your smartphone or tablet, or print a copy on paper to take with you. Links are provided with information about each eBird hotspot. Follow those links for more information about birding each location.
Castalia Birding Drive
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.
This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots around Castalia in Erie County. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio.
8404 Sandusky Clyde Road (OH-101) Castalia, Ohio 44824
From Castalia, drive south on South Washington Street for .4 mile. Turn right onto OH-101 and drive 1.3 miles. Arrive at Castalia Quarry MetroPark parking area on the right.
An extraordinary variety of unique plants and wildlife can be found at the Castalia Quarry MetroPark. Even fossils can be seen in the rock if you look carefully. Visitors are asked to take only pictures and to leave the plants, flowers and other natural features of the MetroPark for others to enjoy.
The MetroPark is open to the public daily from 8 am to dusk, year-round. No drinking water is available on the site. Seasonal restroom facilities are located south of OH-101. The rough terrain of the MetroPark may be explored on foot or on a mountain bike. The Castalia Quarry MetroPark is the only MetroParks area in which mountain biking on the trail system is permitted. On a clear day, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island are visible from the top level of the Wagner Quarries Company Observation Platform.
Visitors are cautioned to stay on the marked trail and away from the edges of the quarry walls. For safety sake, horses are not permitted in the MetroPark. Rappelling and rock climbing are also restricted.
Bardwell Road Castalia, Ohio 44824
From Castalia Quarry MetroPark, drive northeast on OH-101 for 1.3 miles. Turn left onto South Washington Street, then turn right onto East Lucas Street and go .4 mile. Turn right onto Bardwell Road and go .1 mile. Arrive at Castalia Cemetery on the right in .1 mile.
Castalia Cemetery is managed by Margaretta Township
Spring Street Castalia, Ohio 44824
From Castalia Cemetery, turn left onto Bardwell Road and go .1 mile. Turn left onto East Lucas Street and go .2 mile. Turn right onto Swan Street, turn right to stay on Swan Street, then Swan Street turns left and becomes Spring Street. Arrive at Castalia Pond on the right. You can circle the pond in your vehicle to get additional views of birds on the pond.
Castalia Pond is often called the “Duck Pond,” and with good cause. Waterfowl are the highlights of this 10-acre pond, which is fed by artesian springs and remains ice-free throughout winter. Over 10,000 ducks and geese can congregate in favorable winters. The fowl become accustomed to people, and close-up views are the norm, along with great photographic opportunities.
This pond of approximately 10 acres is a “blue hole”; a spring that stays open year-round attracting large concentrations of waterfowl after the freeze-up of the Sandusky Bay region, typically the 3rd week of December. The optimal time for visitation is 1 January through 10 February, although any visit after 1 November and through 10 March can be rewarding. Numbers have reached 17,000 birds (in the late 70’s) although in recent decades the high count has been 11,000, and more typically the concentration peaks at 7-8000 ducks and 1000 geese. Mild seasons, with little ice on Lake Erie in the Western Basin, allow waterfowl to disperse, so check ice conditions on lake Erie. January is by far the most consistent month for optimal viewing. Most are Mallards and formerly up to 2500 American Black Ducks. One can expect 12-14 species of ducks and perhaps 2-3 other water birds on any given day. What makes Castalia Pond a “must visit” during winter is the close proximity with which one may study or photograph the birds. Examining waterfowl for either reading the numbers on goose collars, plumage study of the numerous hybrids, or other age and sex details, is afforded here like few other sites. The Mallard X American Black Duck hybrid is the most common, but Mallard X Northern Pintail and the Mallard X Gadwall (Brewer’s Duck) has also been recorded here.
Homegardner Road Castalia, Ohio 44824
From Castalia Pond, drive west on Spring Street for .1 mile Turn right onto OH-269 and drive 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Heywood Road and go .5 mile. Turn right onto Homegardner Road and arrive at Castalia State Fish Hatchery.
As part of the Castalia Blue Hole system of underground springs, the area provides a unique birding experience. With the available supply of fish, herons and egrets are common.
Castalia State Fish Hatchery is located on 90 acres in western Erie County, just southwest of Sandusky, Ohio. This facility is the newest of the six hatcheries and came on-line in the fall of 1997 after it was purchased from private interests. The hatchery production facilities consist of eight indoor rearing troughs and three outdoor raceways. Nine of these raceways are supplied with water from one of the area’s many blue-hole aquifers (2,500 gallons per minute capacity). Because the water from the blue hole has no oxygen and high levels of nitrogen, it is treated before being used by the hatchery. The remaining two raceways are supplied with water diverted from Cold Creek (10,000 gallons per minute capacity). This cold water supply allows the hatchery to raise steelhead and rainbow trout. All of the state’s steelhead production occurs at this hatchery. Rainbow trout are raised to catchable size before being stocked in Ohio lakes in both the spring and fall.
The facility offers great wildlife viewing opportunities.
Oxbo Road Castalia, Ohio 44824
From Castalia State Fish Hatchery, turn left onto Homegardner Road and then turn left onto Heywood Road. Drive 1.2 miles and arrive at Resthaven Wildlife Area. There ae several eBird hotspots in the wildlife area. Explore as many as time permits.
The Resthaven Wildlife Area is at the northern edge of Castalia on the west side of OH-269. Totaling 2,272 acres, the area includes 444 acres of water. Most of the land is in woodland and shrubby cover. Approximately 90 acres is in crop rotation. Sixteen percent of the land is grassland. More than half the area had been strip mined for marl (a deposit of calcium carbonate or dolomite) prior to purchase by the Division of Wildlife. This mining left a very rough surface which has reverted to woody vegetation and cattails.
Resthaven Wildlife Area lies centered in what was originally a wet marl prairie, known by the early settlers as the “Castalia Prairie.” Early accounts record an extensive wet prairie reaching from the present city of Sandusky to Port Clinton. These accounts relate that the grass grew up to seven feet tall and was so thick as to make progress almost impossible.
Land purchase by the state of Ohio began in 1942. The overall objective is to provide public hunting and fishing by managing for species best suited to the land capabilities of the area. The area will be maintained in diversified cover types consisting of cropland interspersed among areas of permanent grass and low shrubs. Present woodlots will be maintained.