Hoover Reservoir 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.
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot in a new tab or window.
The Hoover Reservoir Birding Drive is divided into two segments.
+ The Hoover Nature Preserve Drive visits locations, all in Delaware County, on the north end of Hoover Reservoir.
+ The Hoover Reservoir South Drive visits locations, most in Franklin County, on the south end of Hoover Reservoir.
Hoover Nature Preserve Drive
Hoover Scenic Trail, Plumb Road to Wiese Road
Wiese Road is accessed from Old 3C Highway just west of the Village of Galena. Park at the barrels and walk along the old roadway. In the spring the road will yield warblers, orioles, wrens, kinglets, flycatchers and other species. Watch the water for waterfowl, terns, herons, egrets, and cormorants in the spring and early fall. Prothonotary Warblers nest along the road Bald Eagles have become regular visitors to this area and can often be seen perched in the large trees along the shoreline. In late fall as the reservoir recedes large mudflats are exposed. These mudflats are at times one of the better shorebird areas in central Ohio.
This area is excellent for shorebirds from late July through November if the water level is down. When the water level is down this area becomes almost entirely mud flats. Almost all migrating species of plover and sandpiper can be found. American Avocets are present most years as are Dunlins, dowitchers, phalaropes, Wilson’s Snipe, Red Knot and others. Rarities recorded include Sandhill Crane and both godwits.
Hoover Nature Preserve–Area L
Area L is on Dustin Road. Dustin Road is accessed from either Old 3C Highway or OH-3. Park in the space provided at the curve near the old railroad bridge and walk along the road edge and down the old roadway. In the spring and summer Prothonotary Warblers nest along the water’s edge. In the spring ducks can be seen here. In the fall when the water level recedes the area attracts numerous species of shorebirds, herons, and egrets. Walk along the road edge in the spring for migrants in the trees toward the water.
Hoover Nature Preserve–Boardwalk Area M
Area M is accessed off of Front Street in the Village of Galena. This area usually becomes mud flats in the autumn. There is a boardwalk that starts from the parking lot and extends for 1,500 feet. This is an outstanding location to view shorebirds in the fall. Other species seen at the mudflats have included Sandhill Crane and Little Blue Heron. Osprey nest on platforms off the boardwalk. Prothonotary Warblers nest in the swamp forest that abuts the boardwalk. During the spring migration generally, all the more common waterfowl are present and often several of the rarer species.
Hoover Nature Preserve–Area N
Area N is accessed from Front Street in the Village of Galena. Park in the area designated on Front Street next to Big Walnut Creek. Enter Area N by going past the wire barrier at the head of the old roadway. The old road continues to an old bridge base. This area is wet woodland and swamp. Warblers that nest in Area N include Prothonotary, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated, Yellow, Common Yellowthroat, Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird and an occasional Cerulean. Also found here are Wood Ducks, Red-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers, Barred and Great Horned Owls, Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos.
Hoover Nature Preserve–Hoover Meadows
Hoover Meadows is accessed from Sunbury Road. The area is marked by an large sign and the chain-link fence. This is a 91 acre inland tract of The Hoover Nature Preserve. The strip is narrow but contains conifers near the front, wetlands, grasslands, ponds, and mature forests. This area can yield Northern Bobwhite, Ring-necked Pheasant, Wild Turkey, Bobolinks, American Woodcock, American Bittern, warblers, finches, hawks, waterfowl, waders, shorebirds and assorted sparrows. In the winter the area can yield Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, and Lapland Longspurs. There are three fields in the meadows.
Hoover Nature Preserve–Old Sunbury Road
Old Sunbury Road is accessed from Sunbury Road between Harlem Road and Hoover Meadows. On the south side of Sunbury Road is a chain-link gate. This is the entrance to the area of the Hoover Nature Preserve and the Eastshore Yacht Club. Park on the road berm and follow the old road past the barrier. The area on the left along the shore is the east side of the Hoover Nature Preserve. The road continues about a 1 ½ miles. From this vantage point, you can observe Pelican Island. In the spring this road is very active with all types of migrants including warblers, vireos, Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, waterfowl, Osprey, sparrows, and cormorants. Prothonotary Warblers nest along the shore of Hoover Reservoir all along this path during the summer. In the fall the reservoir water level drops and exposes massive mudflats all through this area. A typical year produces between 25 to 30 shorebird species and some years produce up to 35 shorebird species.
Hoover Nature Preserve–Mud Hen Marsh
Mud Hen Marsh located at the intersection of Sunbury Road and Big Walnut Road. The entrance and parking lot are 100 yards west on Big Walnut Road. Mud Hen Marsh is an area of wetlands, controlled succession forest, and swamp forest. There is a short trail that leads to an observation blind. From here you can see ducks, herons, shorebirds, and warblers among other species. The exit stream goes under Big Walnut Road and the bridge is a good area to look for Prothonotary Warblers, Wood Ducks, Red-headed Woodpeckers and Bald Eagles.
Hoover Nature Preserve–Oxbow Road
Oxbow Road is reached from Tussic Road via Old Route 3-C Highway. Oxbow Road is a good observation point for migrant waterfowl and has produced numerous unusual species including Brant, American White Pelican, Long-tailed Duck, Black Scoter, and Little Blue Heron. There is a footpath that runs out on Oxbow Island to the Northern most point giving views of the entire northern area of Hoover Reservoir. Prothonotary Warblers regularly nest along the shore and in the vernal pool.
Hoover Reservoir South Drive
Hoover Reservoir–Twin Bridges Boat Ramp
Follow Red Bank Road for about.75 mile to the Twin Bridges Launch Ramp. Here you will often find a wide selection of ducks during both spring and fall migration. This is also near the site of one of several Turkey Vulture roosts at Hoover Reservoir.
Hoover Reservoir–Maxtown Boat Launch
The Maxtown Boat Launch is located at the end of Maxtown Road near the intersection with Sunbury Road. There is a parking lot before you reach the Red Bank Marina which provides birders with access to views of the reservoir. Many ducks, geese, and other waterfowl have been reported from this observation point.
Hoover Reservoir–Walnut Boat Ramp
The Walnut Boat Ramp is located on Sunbury Road just north of the intersection of North Walnut Street.
During migration and winter, you should begin a visit to Hoover by checking the small inlet area and waters nearest the dam. Many species of waterfowl have been recorded in this area including rarities such as Eurasian Wigeon, all three scoters, Cackling Goose and Ross’ Goose. In the winter when the reservoir is frozen you should walk the roadway on top of the dam and check the spillway below. This area does not freeze up and numerous species will take advantage of this and provide surprises.
Hoover Reservoir–Hoover Dam Park
Below the dam is an open field that is edged with a riparian corridor along Big Walnut Creek, brushy wetland, mature forest and conifer forest. Access is made by the driveway at the southern end of the dam parking lot. During the winter a walk around the field edge can produce numerous species.
Hoover Reservoir–Area S
Area S is on the southeast side of the Hoover Reservoir and is accessed from Walnut Street.