Erie County Lakeshore Birding Drive

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.

Erie County Lakeshore Birding Drive
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.

This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots in Erie County. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio.

Old Woman Creek

Huron, Ohio 44839

From Huron, drive east on US-6 for 2.9 miles. Turn right and arrive at the parking area for Old Woman Creek.

Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve is part of a network of 28 coastal reserves connected nationally through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to address state and regional coastal management needs through research, education, and stewardship. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System uses its network of living laboratories to help understand and find solutions to crucial issues facing America’s coastal communities.

Located in Huron, Ohio on the south-central shore of Lake Erie, Old Woman Creek is one of the state’s few remaining examples of a natural estuary. As a transition zone between land and water, the site contains a variety of habitats including marshes and swamps, upland forests, open water, tributary streams, barrier beach and near-shore Lake Erie. The Reserve supports a diverse assemblage of native plants and animals representative of freshwater estuaries.

Old Woman Creek Reserve is managed as a cooperative partnership between NOAA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife. Old Woman Creek is also an Ohio State Nature Preserve.Old Woman Creek Visitor Center

The Reserve’s administrative offices are located in the Mike DeWine Center for Coastal Wetland Studies overlooking the estuary’s eastern shore. The Center provides laboratories for ecological research and serves as a focal point for public visitation and education programs. A comprehensive renovation completed in 2003 incorporated many green building materials and construction techniques.

Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve

2804 Cleveland Road West Huron, Ohio 44839

From Old Woman Creek, turn left onto US-6 west and drive 4.1 miles. Merge onto US-6 and OH-2 west and continue .5 mile. Take the US-6 exit and follow US-6 for .9 mile. Arrive at the parking area for Sheldon Marsh.

Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve is a barrier beach and associated unusual plants which offers excellent bird watching during spring and fall.

Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve and contiguous wetlands comprise some of the last remaining undeveloped stretches of shoreline in the Sandusky Bay region. As Ohio’s once expansive coastal wetland habitat continues to disappear in the face of encroaching development, the importance of Sheldon Marsh increases immensely. Preservation of habitat is seen as the key to survival of wild plant and animal communities, and this preserve contains many types of habitats such as old field, hardwood forest, woodland swamp, cattail marsh, barrier sand beach, and open water-lake. All are relicts of the lake-marsh-forest ecosystem which originally encompassed thousands of acres along Lake Erie’s western basin.

This preserve is known to attract nearly 300 bird species and provides habitat for many kinds of wildflowers. Spring is one of the best times to visit the marsh. From the middle of April into June, the woodland floor is covered with blooming wildflowers. Dutchman’s breeches, cut-leaved toothwort and spring beauties are followed by trout lilies, trilliums, wild ginger, and wild geraniums.

Spring migration brings a variety of neotropical and shorebirds to Sheldon Marsh. Before crossing Lake Erie these birds stop briefly to rest and feed among the lush vegetation of the forest. Along the barrier sand beach, numerous shorebirds are frequently seen searching for food at the water’s edge. Summer residents include great blue herons, red-tailed hawks, black-crowned night-herons, wood ducks, common terns, woodcocks, great horned owls, and numerous songbirds.

Perhaps the most spectacular summer event is the blooming of the cardinal flower in the woodland swamp. Often described as America’s most beautiful wildflower, its tall and brilliant red spikes are a magnificent sight.

East Sandusky Bay MetroPark

Cleveland Road West Sandusky, Ohio 44870

From Sheldon Marsh, turn right onto US-6 west and drive 2.4 miles. Parking for East Sandusky Bay MetroPark is on the right.

The open waters of the park are visible from Cedar Point Road, which runs along the park’s east side–Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve is on the other side of this road. However, stopping along Cedar Point Road is forbidden, and the park must be accessed via a mile long trail that begins at the parking area off US-6, about a mile west of Cedar Point Road.

East Sandusky Bay MetroPark is the umbrella name for a collection of neighboring parks and preserves located on the East Sandusky Bay. The facilities include, from west to east, Eagle Point, Joseph Steinen Wildlife Area, Putnam Marsh Nature Preserve, Wyandot Wetland Meadows Preserve, and the Barnes Addition. All are passive-use sites and offer hiking trails, wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing, and seasonal hunting by permit only.

Steinen Wildlife Area is one of several key protected natural areas along the southern shoreline of Lake Erie. Part of East Sandusky Bay Preserve MetroPark, this 155 acre natural area protects an extraordinary freshwater marsh and uplands rich in critical food and sanctuary for all types of species including ducks, raptors and migratory birds. It’s an important stop over point along the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyway, one of the largest bird migration routes in the eastern U.S. Plans for public use of the area need to be wisely balanced to protect the area’s rich mixture of open water, wetlands, and wildlife habitat.

The wildlife area includes three neighboring parcels, all adjacent to US-6. The east and west parcels are bounded on the north by Lake Erie and the southern most parcel by Perkins Avenue. The northern most parts of the east and west parcels are greatly influenced by the water level of the adjacent lake and some sections are underwater. From the most northern tip of the wildlife area the view of East Sandusky Bay is open and inspiring. The south parcel is very different from the other two parcels and the Erie County Ohio Bicentennial Barn is on the site. A neighbor’s horses graze on the private pastureland adjacent to the Barn. The west parcel has about a .5-mile rustic trail and is open daily, year‐round, 8 a.m. to dark, except during hunting season when access is restricted. Access to the south and east parcels is by prior permission only. With the collaboration of the ODNR, Div of Wildlife, seasonal controlled youth hunting at this site is by permit only.

Pipe Creek Wildlife Area

1st Street Sandusky, Ohio 44870

From East Sandusky Bay MetroPark, turn right onto US-6 west and drive for 2.3 miles. Turn right onto Cedar Point Drive for .4 mile. Turn right onto River Avenue and go .3 mile. River Avenue turns slightly left and becomes F Street. The parking area for Pipe Creek is on the right.

The Pipe Creek Wildlife Area is located within the city limits of Sandusky, behind the Big Island water treatment facility. It overlooks Sandusky Bay. The area can be reached by following US-6 to Sandusky, turn north onto Cedar Point Causeway, then east onto River Avenue; or follow OH-4 to Sandusky, Turn northeast onto Monroe Street, then east onto First Street, then south onto F Street.

The 97-acre area is situated on the former Big Island Wetland Complex on the southern shore of Sandusky Bay. Most of the area is a diked marsh, with the remaining acreage comprising flat-topped dikes. The marsh areas are shallow, varying from one to three feet in depth, with the exception of channels up to eight feet in depth which were created for efficient water level control of the area.

Medusa Marsh--Barrett Rd.

Bay View, Ohio 44870

From Pipe Creek Wildlife Area, drive north on F Street, turn left onto First Street and drive 1.5 miles. Make a slight left onto East Monroe Street for .2 mile. Make a slight right onto Huron Avenue and go .4 mile. Turn left onto East Washington Street and drive .7 mile. Continue onto US-6 and drive 3.1 miles. Continue straight onto Venice Road for .5 mile. Continue onto Barrett Road and go 1 mile.

Trespassing is prohibited. Parking is tolerated along either side of Barrett Road, but be certain to pull off the pavement. Be aware that traffic moves very fast along this stretch of road, so exercise caution. The impoundments are on the south side of Barrett Road. A railroad bed to the north blocks the view of the bay (unless you bird from the roof of your car), but Double-crested Cormorants and Bald Eagles can often be seen roosting in the trees along the water.

Medusa Marsh, also known as Neilson’s Marsh, lies along the stretch of road connecting Bay View and Sandusky. This road runs parallel to OH-2, and can be reached by heading north from either “Exit OH-269 Bay View” or “Exit US-6 Sandusky/Fremont.”

“Medusa Marsh” is a name given to several privately owned, diked wetlands managed for waterfowl. Birders nicknamed this area after Medusa Portland Cement Company that used to occupy this land.

Bay View

Bay View, Ohio 44870

From Medusa Marsh, drive northwest on Barrett Road for 1.6 miles. Continue stright onto East Bayview Drive for .4 mile. Turn right toward the old causeway fishing pier.

Sandusky Bay can be viewed from the community of Bay View. The old bridge causeway to the east of the Edison Memorial Bridge provides access by auto with parking for birders to set up scopes and view birds on the bay.

The former southern causeway approach to the Sandusky Bay Bridge is a popular publicly accessible fishing site in the Erie County village of Bay View. Shown as “Yetter Road” on some maps including those maintained by the Erie County Auditor’s Office, the southern causeway is 2,080 feet long.

The former Bay Bridge once spanned Sandusky Bay connecting Bay View with Danbury Township in Ottawa County. In 1965, the majority of the former bridge’s traffic was rerouted west to the new four-lane Thomas A. Edison Memorial Bridge (OH-2 and OH-269). Prior to the new, wider and higher bridge’s completion, the old bridge was the only way for automobile traffic to cross Sandusky Bay.

Dedicated in 1929, the bridge featured a lift between the northern and southern causeway approaches. At the time of its construction, it was the longest bridge and causeway in Ohio. The bridge was privately financed by the Sandusky Bay Bridge Company; the state of Ohio took ownership of the bridge in 1936. The bridge remained open until 1985 when the state removed the steel center because of the high cost of maintenance. Following the center lift’s removal, both the north causeway in Ottawa County and this south causeway became popular fishing sites.

The southern causeway can be accessed from Bayview Drive in Bay View. A street sign at the causeway’s Bayview Drive intersection identifies the former bridge approach as Bayside Drive.