Big Island Birding Drive
Ohio 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.
Big Island is approximately 5000 acres in size and is situated within a major flyway for waterfowl and shorebirds traveling from the Ohio River to the Western Basin of Lake Erie. Approximately 265 species have been recorded here for one of the highest wildlife area checklist tallies away from Lake Erie. This birding drive visits only a few of the eBird hotspots in the wildlife area. For a full description of all the hotspots see Big Island Wildlife Area.
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.
Big Island Wildlife Area–Herr Road
Enter Big Island Wildlife Area on Herr Road by turning south from OH-309. Herr Road is lightly traveled, but use caution when stopping on this road. There are just a few pull off areas. South of the Marion Tallgrass Trail there are wet fields on both sides of the road that can hold birds. During shorebird migration, there are often migrating birds in these areas. In the winter this is a good place to look for Short-eared Owls, Northern Harrier, and Rough-legged Hawks. You can walk the Marion Tallgrass Trail in this area, but parking where the trail crosses Herr Road is very limited. There is a larger parking area for the Tallgrass Trail on Holland Road.
Big Island Wildlife Area–North of Marion-Agosta Road
From Herr Road, turn right on Marion-Agosta Road. Marion-Agosta Road (OH-95) is a busy road. Use the wildlife area parking areas to pull off to view birds. Just west of the intersection with Prospect-Upper Sandusky Road (OH-203) there is a wildlife viewing platform which looks into the impoundments north of Marion-Agosta Road. You may also park here and walk the dikes around these impoundments.
Big Island Wildlife Area–Hoch Road Reservoir
Continue west on OH-95 from the wildlife viewing platform to the next parking area. The Hock Road Reservoir may be accessed from the parking area on OH-95 or from the end of Hoch Road on the north. This is an area where you may walk the dikes surrounding these wetlands.
Big Island Wildlife Area–Espyville Road South
From the Hoch Road Reservoir, continue west on OH-95 and turn left on Espyville Road.
This is a busy road. Please, use the pull off areas along this road to view birds.
Continue along Espyville Road until you reach LaRue-Prospect Road.
Big Island Wildlife Area–North of LaRue-Prospect Road
LaRue-Prospect is a busy road. Use the wildlife area parking areas to pull off to observe birds.
Short-eared Owls are sometimes found on along this section of the road during the winter. The impoundments host a variety of birds in all seasons. A scope is helpful for viewing from the parking areas. Birders may walk the dikes around the impoundments.
Big Island Wildlife Area–White Barn Containment Pond
The pond near the “white barn” is worth checking.
Birders may walk in this area and kayaking in this pond is often productive.
When finished birding this area, retrace your route going east on LaRue-Prospect Road toward Rayl Cemetery.
Big Island Wildlife Area–Rayl Cemetery
The area around Rayl Cemetery, near the junction of OH-203 and OH-739, is part of Big Island Wildlife Area. Usually, there are lots of good birds there. This section includes grassland, ponds, and the Scioto River and treeline. There is a trail all the way to the river.