Killbuck Marsh to Funk Bottoms 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.
This drive includes an ambitious number of stops and would require a full morning and afternoon to explore adequately. Killbuck Marsh is better in the morning during warbler migration. Funk Bottoms is best for water birds which are likely to be there throughout the day. The drive through Killbuck Marsh begins with Messner Road.
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.
Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Messner Road
To reach the east end of Messner Road (County Road 49 on Google Maps), take Prairie Lane or OH-83 south from Wooster. Turn right on Messner Road. Cross Prairie Lane if you came on OH-83. There are several areas to park along this road, although often the best birding can be by driving slowly along the road. Use flashers for oncoming or passing traffic and pull as far off onto the shoulder as you can if you are stopped. Most years this bottomland hosts nesting Brown Creepers, Prothonotary Warblers, and Red-shouldered Hawks. Red-headed Woodpeckers are usually easily found along this road. Close your Messner Road checklist when you reach the end of Messner Road.
Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Valley Road North
At the end of Messner Road, turn left onto Valley Road. Valley Road has two eBird hotspots. The north section of the road traverses more of the bottomland and then climbs out of the Wildlife Area. Start a new checklist for Valley Road North. Please note that this section of Valley Road is often flooded in the spring or when water is high. Do not enter the water on the road, as the potholes are often deeper than they look! Bird this road from your vehicle. It is very lightly traveled. Continue watching for Prothonotary Warblers and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Eastern Phoebes often nest near the bridge just before you climb out of the Wildlife Area. Close your Valley Road North checklist when you reach Kimbler Road.
Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Valley Road South
Begin a new checklist for Valley Road South when you reenter the Wildlife Area after crossing Moreland Road. This section of the Wildlife Area is quite different from the bottomland. The section just past Moreland Road with homes on the left often has a nice mix of woodland birds. Follow Valley Road. You will come to a T in the road and Valley Road continues to the left. There is a large pond where Clark Road intersects Valley Road. You may want to take the time to drive out Clark Road along the and return to Valley Road. Clark Road is a separate eBird hotspot if you wish to make a separate checklist while you are on the road. Then proceed right on Valley Road, crossing a bridge and more bottom land, before climbing up the hill to Force Road. Close your Valley Road South checklist when you reach Force Road.
Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Force Road West
At the intersection of Valley Road and Force Road, turn left on Force Road. Drive a short distance to a Y in the road and turn left at the Y to stay on Force Road. The Force Road West hotspot is at the end of Force Road. There is a parking area at the end of the road. You can walk a short distance to an old bridge where there are views of birds on the marsh. Eagles have nested in this area for many years. Great Blue Herons also have a colony near the Eagle nest. The area beyond the bridge is closed to entry. Please, observe the signs.
Shreve Lake Wildlife Area
Retrace your route back out Force Road. Turn right at the Y. Continue to Cemetery Road where you turn left. Then follow the route on the map through Shreve to the Shreve Lake Wildlife Area.
Shreve Lake is a popular fishing destination. It sometimes has waterfowl, especially during migration.
Continue west on Brown Road when you are done birding at Shreve Lake. At the intersection with Elyria Road, turn right. Follow Elyria Road, crossing OH-3. Wilderness is the first road on the left after OH-3. Turn left on Wilderness Road.
Wilderness Road is worth checking in all seasons. During spring and fall migration ducks and geese are abundant. Sandhill Cranes are often in the area. In the fall the peat pits along the north side of Wilderness Road are sometimes drawn down, providing excellent shorebird habitat. Short-eared Owls, Northern Harriers, and Rough-legged Hawks are often found in the winter. Eagles nest here during breeding season. Wilderness Road traverses privately owned properties. Please, be respectful and bird from the roadside. Stay out of the way of workers at the peat pits when they are working there.
Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area
At the intersection of Wilderness Road and Funk Road, turn right. Proceed north to OH-95 and turn right. Watch for the sign on the right to the Funk Bottom observation tower. Take the gravel road to the tower.
The observation tower gives good views of the Funk Bottoms marsh. During spring and fall migration there can be many ducks and shorebirds in this area. During the winter this is a good place to look for wintering Short-eared Owls. Sandhill Cranes are often in the area in all seasons, event staying in the area some winters. A spotting scope is very helpful for viewing birds at the tower. You can also walk the unmarked trails in this area when the water levels are low. In some wet seasons, the road to the tower is flooded.
OH-95 is a very busy highway. There are three pull-off areas with limited space on the south side of the road. Use care in pulling off as the embankment is quite steep. There is also one pull-off on the north side of the road with a bit more space to park. Stopping on the roadway is not recommended.
See the Funk Bottoms Birding Drive for more ways to explore this area around Funk Bottoms if you have more time.