As their name suggests, the pine siskin (Carduelis pinus) prefers seeds from pines and other conifers such as hemlock and cedar. They will also eat tree buds and catkins from alders and birches, as well as insects, spiders, and seeds. They love thistle seed and will visit your thistle feeder along with goldfinches.
In May, warblers returning to their North American breeding grounds from winter homes in the tropics arrive in the Toledo area tired, hungry and in no hurry to fly over or around Lake Erie. Habitat along the lakeshore, including parks, backyards, cemeteries and other greenspaces, are attractive places to rest and store energy.
Some of the many bird species you might see migrating through Northwest Ohio:
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Featured Birding Locations
Birding at Oak Openings Metropark
More than 250 species of birds are listed on the Oak Openings Preserve checklist. The park, and the larger Oak Openings Region of which it is a part, is a premier birding destination in the region. Listed as an Audubon Important Bird Area, “The Oaks” attracts novice and advanced birders alike. The Oak Openings Region is a rare collection of habitats, from sand barrens to grassy wetlands, and the home of more rare and endangered plant species than anywhere else in Ohio.
Lark sparrows, a state-listed endangered species, nest on the dunes and are easy to see along Girdham Road in the spring. Pine siskins and other northern finches are among the winter visitors that frequent the Window On Wildlife at at the Buehner Center. Birders may also be interested to know that the tiny, federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly flits about in the prairies, where they were reintroduced.
From the tiniest warblers to red-headed woodpeckers to the largest birds of prey, Oak Openings is a birder or botanist’s paradise. As the largest Metropark, with more 4,000 acres and trails from just a half-mile to more than 15 miles, there is also plenty of room to roam. Camping and the Caretaker's Cottage are available for overnight stays.
Wildwood Preserve in West Toledo, Secor Metropark in Berkey and Wiregrass Lake in Spencer Township are also within the Oak Openings region.
Birding at Pearson Metropark
Pearson, in Oregon, is close to the Lake Erie shore, as the birds fly. Preserving one of the last pieces of the Great Black Swamp, the park offers a variety of birding experiences.
The original, 300-acre park, with an entrance on Lallendorf Road at State Route 2 (Navarre Avenue), is a swamp woods with well-warn paths and charming Depression era stone shelters. A Window on Wildlife at the Packer-Hammersmith Center overlooks feeding stations where you are likely to see a variety of birds, especially warblers during migration. Other species to look and listen for are woodpeckers, oriole, red-eyed vireo, ovenbird, scarlet tanager, redstart, woodthrush, hermit thrush and flycatchers.
Until only a few years ago, Pearson North, a 300-acre addition with an entrance on Seaman Road, was a farm field with a small woodlot. Today, it is a restored wetland. Gone are the ceramic tiles that once drained the “swamp,” replaced with a meandering stream that diverts runoff water onto the land, creating a giant bird bath.
From an observation deck adjacent to a late-1800s Black Swamp Cabin, visitors can view a variety of water-loving birds. It is common to see killdeer, great egrets and great blue herons, adding a whole new dimension to birding in the popular park. Also look for American kestrels hunting in the fields and the occasional snipe.
Howard Marsh—Opening Spring 2018
Located on the Lake Erie shore where birds gather to nest or rest before making the journey over or around the big lake, Howard Marsh is will be an exciting new development for bird lovers. Metroparks is restoring the 1,000-acre property to coastal wetland habitat, with a water trail and dike top hiking trail. Adjacent to Metzger Marsh State Wildlife Area, Howard Marsh and part of the complex of local, state and federal parks and refuges, it is certain to be a stop for birders, especially during the spring and fall migrations of waterfowl, raptors and—of course—warblers.