eBird Bar Charts by Season
Tips for birding Nimisila Reservoir
There are no dedicated walking trails at Nimisila Reservoir, but birding can be easily accomplished from the many parking lots located on both Christman Road (C1, C3, C4, C5, C6, and C7) and South Main Street (SM2 and SM3). From these lots, birders can find tramped down paths to get better access to the water. Nimisila has some of the best waterfowl birding in the county during spring and fall migration as well as wintering birds. A scope is always a good idea here.
C1 Parking Lot and Boat Ramp: A small rookery of Double-crested Cormorants and Great Blue Herons can be seen in a tree on a small island just slightly north of the parking lot. This area can also be good for Red-Breasted Mergansers and Common Loons in season. When Bonaparte’s Gulls are present, this is one of the best spots to find them.
C3 Parking Lot: There is no direct water access but it can be good for woodland birds. There are probably tramped down paths to the water made by anglers.
C4 Campground and Boat Ramp: During the camping season from May 1 – October 31, the campground is off-limits to birders by car, but some have stated walking in is fine. Keep in mind that when viewing from the C4 campground parking lot, birders are looking south and therefore seeing the northern rafts of birds seen from the C6 lot, so be careful not to double-count birds. Also at the campground, it appears there have been nesting Yellow-throated Warblers. The campground can be outstanding for woodland birds like Tufted Titmouse, Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, most woodpecker species, White-breasted Nuthatches, warblers during migration, and more.
C4 Parking Lot: This is separate from the campground, and all three merganser species like this spot. During the 2018 season, a pair of Bald Eagles nested in an old Osprey nest on a tower across the water and successfully raised a single eaglet. It can also be a great spot for woodland birds such as vireos, woodpeckers, Cedar Waxwings, Baltimore Orioles, and more.
C5 Parking Lot: This small parking area can be excellent for woodland birds such as vireos and woodpeckers. It overlooks a small pond area that can hold Green-Winged and Blue-Winged Teal as well as Wood Ducks. People sometimes distribute seed along the parking lot edges in winter, so birders can often find Dark-Eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, and others feeding.
C6 Parking Lot and Boat Ramp: The waterfowl can be seen anywhere on the reservoir, but the biggest numbers are typically here at the south end. Huge rafts of birds can be seen during winter and migration, including around a thousand American Coots and over a thousand scaup. There are a couple reed beds out in the water just south of the “big island”, and these can hold Least Bittern and Common Gallinule in season. A scope is always helpful.
C7 Parking Lot: This lot is on the opposite side of the street from the reservoir but there is room near the road to set up a scope or view with binoculars. Again, the biggest numbers of waterfowl are typically here at the south end with huge mixed rafts of Bufflehead, mergansers, Redhead, scaup, Horned Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Common Goldeneye, and more. Since the C6 and C7 areas are close to each other, be careful not to double count birds.
SM2 Parking Lot and Boat Ramp: This small parking area is at the southern end of the reservoir. A little north, there is also a small pull-off big enough for 2 or 3 cars. From either spot, birders can walk to the stairs or worn hill path to get on top of the rim of the western side of the reservoir where there is a gravel path the entire length of the water. A scope is recommended.
SM3 Parking Lot: This lot is for the Dam and Spillway area and is accessed from South Main Street at Jones Road. There is a private residence there, but just drive past it and the utility substation down the long road until it takes a curve to the right. There is a large parking lot, and birders so inclined can walk out on the rim of the dam and spillway to view birds. A scope is recommended. Note this is a separate eBird hotspot.
Birds of Interest
The reservoir is a hotspot for most species of migrating waterfowl, including Common Loon, occasional Long-Tailed Duck and three scoter species; rare Black Tern, Little Gull, and Purple Gallinule vagrants; migrating warblers; nesting Bald Eagles, Osprey, Common Gallinule.
From Susan Carpenter
About Nimisila Reservoir
Nimisila Reservoir is one of the 13 bodies of water that make up the Portage Lakes. At 825 acres, it’s the largest body of water in the park district. Nimisila Reservoir was the last of the Portage Lakes to be created. The reservoir originally provided the ever-expanding water needs of Akron’s industrial complex. Built in 1936 by the federal Works Progress Administration, the reservoir was created when an earthen dam 44 feet high and 2,350 feet long was built on Nimisila Creek. The reservoir has 16 miles of shoreline and four boat launches, with the deepest spot at around about 30 feet.
Historically, the area was an important trading post for settlers and Indians. It was a recognized landmark during the War of 1812, serving as a rendezvous point for American troops. The old Indian portage path was part of the ancient boundary between the Six Nations and the Western Indians. In more recent history, a WWII corsair airplane crash landed in the reservoir on a training mission from Goodyear. Legend has it that it is underwater and remains stuck in the mud somewhere within the reservoir.
An important migratory stop-over habitat, Nimisila is the staging area for several thousand purple martins during the month of August. The birds roost on the grassy islands during the night, feast on the insect population and then continue their migration south for the winter. The reservoir is also home to several species of waterfowl, eagles and osprey. Many other species can be seen at various times during the year.
From Nimisila Reservoir Park webpage
Nimisila Reservoir is located in southeastern Summit County and is approximately 2 miles south of OH-619, 2 miles east of OH-93, and 2.5 miles west of OH-241. The entire lake is surrounded by county roads.
Nimisila was constructed during 1936 and 1937 by the Ohio Department of Public Works, with labor supplied by the WPA Its primary purpose at that time was to maintain a constant water supply in the Portage Lakes for industrial use. A gate valve at the northwestern end of the lake regulates the amount of water which is released into the Portage Lakes. This 742-acre lake is part of Portage Lakes State Park. The maximum depth is 30 feet.
Restrooms at locations identified on Nimisila Reservoir map.