Focus on Birding near a State Line

Ohio is bordered by Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Indiana. There are a number of Ohio eBird hotspots located near a state line. It is helpful to know where the state line is located so that the birds will be assigned to the proper state.

This is a list of locations in Ohio where the state line passes near an eBird hotspot.

eBirding along County, State, and Country borders

In eBird, every complete checklist should be thought of as an attempt to record everything that you can detect from where you are standing or walking. If you are standing along the banks of a river you should certainly scan the river and both of its banks. If you are along a ridgetop, you should be counting birds that you can see in all directions. However, at times there may be a geopolitical border that bisects your walking path or your field of view. Birds never have cared much about geopolitics, and in many cases they freely cross borders. What is the best way to do your eBirding in cases like this?

Within eBird, a bird “counts” if if can be seen from where you are standing. This applies to yard lists and locality lists (which have almost always used these rules). It also should apply to your eBird checklists whenever possible. This means that if you are standing at Salineño, Texas, and you see a Lineated Woodpecker flying over the trees on the opposite side (thus in Mexico), this “counts” in eBird for your U.S. and Texas list. Our reviewers should also validate the record. However, in cases like this where you are seeing a very rare bird in another country, state, or county, please do make it clear in your checklist comments where you saw the bird. Lineated Woodpecker still does not have a confirmed record for the United States, so having these notes would be important for those using the data.

Duplicate entry as Incidental is OK. In eBird it is also OK to report birds seen on the opposite side of a border. If you go back and check your woodpecker photos and realize it was in fact a Pileated Woodpecker, you’d want to get that in the official record as a first country record for Mexico. In this case, it is OK to use this hotpot for La Gloria, across from Salineño, to report your bird which will then show up on your Mexico and Tamaulipas list. However, these should always be reported as Incidental checklists (and thus, not reporting all species) since you were not on foot in the area and could not do a complete survey of the birds seen at the site.

The reason for this is because eBird works best when users designate their lists as complete checklists. We do not want birds being left off your lists simply because it was across an arbitrary (to the bird) boundary.

Note: Some birders care deeply about their state and local lists. If reporting a bird on the complete checklist from where you are standing is not something you wish to do, then we recommend considering your checklist “incomplete” (not reporting all species) since you are intentionally excluding a bird that you saw on your survey. This is OK, and in this case you would report one checklist using a Traveling or Stationary protocol (with distance, duration, and start time) but indicating that not all species were reported; the bird of interest would be left off this list. For the second list, plotted on the other side of the border, you would report as Incidental.

Michigan State Line
Toledo Memorial Park
All of the developed section of Toledo Memorial Park, located north of Toledo, is in Ohio. The northern, undeveloped section of this cemetery is in Michigan. A hotspot has not been established for this northern section of the cemetery.

149th Street, Point Place
This hotspot is the northernmost location in Ohio on the Point Place peninsula. The northern tip of the peninsula is in Michigan. While there is an eBird hotspot in Michigan at the tip of the peninsula, Lost Peninsula, the road is a private, gated drive with access limited to residents and their guests.

Pennsylvania State Line
Pymatuning State Park
The Pymatuning Reservoir is on the Ohio-Pennsylvania border and is served by a state park in each state. For the convenience of birders, the hotspots in both states are referenced on the page link above.

The Ohio River forms the Ohio border with two states, West Virginia and Kentucky.
Since the late 1700s, various states have claimed ownership of various stretches of the Ohio River. The principal reason was to garner wealth from the trade that occurred on the river. In 1792, the federal government determined that Kentucky owned the Ohio River along its border with Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. In essence, the boundary between Kentucky and these three future states would be the low point of the Ohio River’s northernmost bank.

Both Indiana and Ohio have sought to claim the Ohio River, despite the federal government’s declaration in 1792. In 1966, Ohio claimed that the Ohio River’s course had fluctuated since 1792, so that the low point of the Ohio River’s northernmost bank in 1792 actually would be near the south bank of the river today. Ohio asked the United States Supreme Court to give ownership of the river to Ohio or, at the bare minimum, to set the boundary between Kentucky and Ohio in the midpoint of the Ohio River. The Supreme Court ruled that Kentucky had legal ownership to the Ohio River.
From Ohio History Central

The area of the Ohio River that borders West Virginia, and the islands that located within it, are wholly owned by West Virginia, the deed of cession of the Northwest Territory fixing the low water mark on the Ohio side as the western boundary of (what was then) Virginia. More than 30 West Virginia communities extend along the river.
From The West Virginia Cyclopedia

Because of these ownership concerns, in most places the state line is very near the Ohio side of the river and birds seen out in the river are not physically in Ohio. eBird allows birders to decide which birds “count” for their state list and, as indicated above, it is permissible in eBird to record all the birds you can observe from a location. Bird record committees, on the other hand, usually want the bird to be physically located in the state. Birders who report rare bird sightings may want to keep this in mind as they prepare eBird checklists.

West Virginia State Line
While there are many hotspots on the Ohio side of the river along the West Virginia border, there are just a few where there are hotspots established on both sides of the river.

Pike Island Lock and Dam
The Ohio-West Virginia border is near the Ohio side of the Ohio River at this location. There are separate hotspots in West Virginia for reporting birds seen in the river pool or at the Pike Island Dam.

Hannibal Dam
The locks at the Hannibal Dam are on the Ohio side of the river and the state line runs along the middle of the locks area. There is a hotspot on the West Virginia side of the river.

Fly-Sistersville Ferry
The state line is 20-40 yards out in the river from the Ohio shoreline. If you take the ferry to Sisterville you cross the state line at the beginning of the crossing. There is currently no hotspot in West Virginia.

Belleville Locks and Dam
There are hotspots on each side of the river for the Belleville Locks and Dam.

Gallipolis Locks and Dam
There are hotspots on each side of the river for the Gallipolis Locks and Dam.

Kentucky State Line

Meldahl Dam
There are hotspots on each side of the river for the Meldahl Locks and Dam.

Indiana State Line
At this time, there are no hotspots established along the Ohio-Indiana border.