Grand River-Lower Watershed Important Bird Area map
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This IBA includes 23 miles of river recognized by Ohio’s Wild and Scenic River program. The lower Grand River includes gorge areas with hemlock ravines in tributaries, a harbor, state park, county parks, hemlock ravines, riparian corridor, beach grasses/dunes, lakeshore, a restored wetland, and deciduous forests. Reservations owned by Lake Metroparks protect some of the significant habitats, but there is also much private land.
Big Creek Park is a large tract of mature beech-maple forest with mixed mesophytic forest slopes, hemlock-yellow birch forest in ravines, cottonwood-sycamore, walnut, elm floodplain (riparian) forest, and successional shrub/tree thickets. Also present are small rivulets in ravines, three small ponds, and some areas of successional habitat including power-line corridors.
The former Diamond Shamrock Property is a large open-field area (former settling ponds for Diamond Shamrock Co. are now filled in and overgrown) along the State Wild and Scenic Grand River and Lake Erie. This former industrial site is one of the few large areas of open space in Lake County. The area was developed by the chemical industry during the last century, where they have been closing down plants since the late 1960s.
The Girdled Road Reservation, located along the Lake and Geauga County border, is a mix of forests and old-field habitat. Big Creek, an exceptionally clear tributary of the Grand River, runs through the northern two-thirds of the park, with a mix of northern forest, hemlock ravines, and floodplain forest.
Grand River Terraces is a mix of wet meadow, floodplain forest, and hemlock swamp forest, situated along the Grand River. It is a natural hemlock swamp, one of the few remaining in Ohio.
Headlands Dunes on the Lake Erie shore includes a sand-dune community, public beach, brushy areas, adjacent harbor, and wetlands, including one of the few protected “natural” accessible stretches of Lake Erie shore.
Hell Hollow is located along the Paine Creek corridor. The area is characterized by floodplain forest, northern forest, and hemlock ravines. Hemlock ravines harbor state-listed birds, especially since Paine Creek remains a relatively clear stream.
The Mentor Marsh regional ecosystem contains a necklace of important habitat types stretching from the Grand River on the east to the site of the historic mouth of the Grand River to the west. It includes upland forest, developed and pristine beaches, marsh and dunes. It encompasses Mentor Lagoons Preserve, Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve, Headlands Beach State Park, Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, and private property surrounding the Coast Guard Station.
Private undeveloped property adjacent to Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve extends the sandy beach eastward along Fairport Harbor with overgrown dunes, cottonwoods, and scrub inland from the beach.
The hemlock ravines associated with the main river corridor support populations of many northern breeders and typical local forest-nesting birds. The entire area exhibits high diversity and density of priority species. The Lake Erie shore sites are among the top three migrant traps in the state. Bald Eagles nest along the Grand River.
Big Creek Park includes large tracts of mature beech-maple forest, which provide nesting habitat for forest-interior nesting neotropical songbirds, as well as a northern hemlock-birch forest association attracting nesting northern songbirds (Dark-eyed Junco, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Winter Wren and possibly others-more survey work is needed). Since the early 1990s, this park has featured a rich assemblage of neotropical birds during the breeding season. Bird records come from annual spring bird walks by various naturalists, with quarterly bird reports submitted to ‘The Ohio Cardinal’ and the ‘Cleveland Bird Calendar’. Notable probable breeding species include: Broad-winged Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (documented nearby), Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Winter Wren (occasional-rare), Blue-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, American Redstart, Hooded Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Dark-eyed Junco.
Girdled Road Reservation is home to 16 species of nesting state-listed birds and 15 species of birds considered uncommon-rare regionally. Endangered species associated with the site include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Golden-winged Warbler. Threatened species include Least Flycatcher and Dark-eyed Junco.
Grand River Terraces, one of the few remaining hemlock swamps left in Ohio, is home to a number of rare and state-listed bird species; those found in this habitat include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, and Northern Saw-whet Owl.
The hemlock ravines of the Lake County portion of the Grand River watershed hold a significant percentage (as many as 50%) of the state Dark-eyed Junco breeding population. The watershed also has populations of other representative northern nesters, such as Black-throated Green Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Canada Warbler, Veery, Saw-whet Owl, and Winter Wren.
Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve is an important migrant trap, with exceptional variety of birds, including the following migrants: American Bittern, Least Bittern, Northern Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, Piping Plover, Common Tern, Short-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Sedge Wren, Northern Shrike, Golden-winged Warbler, Grasshopper Sparrow, Henslow’s Sparrow, etc. Monitored weekly, the area has over 300 species seen. Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve is designated Critical Habitat for Piping Plover.
Hell Hollow Wilderness Area has hosted fifteen species of nesting state-listed birds. It is important not only for the number of species but the total numbers of individuals nesting. Hemlock ravines harbor state-listed birds. On several occasions in excess of 30 pairs of Dark-eyed Juncos have been found. Endangered species include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, while threatened species include Barn Owl, Least Flycatcher, Hermit Thrush, and Dark-eyed Junco. In addition, 15 other species considered rare-uncommon regionally have also been found.
Mentor Marsh regional ecosystem, with its diversity of habitat, supports a wide variety of both migratory and nesting birds. Within this area lie nearly 1,000 acres of marshland, a habitat type that has become rare in Ohio. There is also swamp forest, barrier beach and dunes, all of which are publicly owned. The Ohio coastal management program has determined this land and its attendant watershed as a special area for management because of its unique location and habitat types.
The private property east of and adjacent to Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve is a concentration point for migratory passerines during spring and fall migration. It involves more appropriate scrub habitat than the adjacent Headlands Dunes SNP and has a higher concentration of birds during migration.
The former Diamond Shamrock site is a possible Northern Harrier breeding site. Significant wintering areas for Merlins, Rough-legged Hawks, and Northern Shrikes exist here. There is evidence the threatened Upland Sandpiper has nested here. Another threatened species associated with the site is Least Flycatcher.
From Grand River-Lower Watershed Important Bird Area webpage