With about 250 species of birds either visiting or making their homes in CVNP, where else can you find a better bird-watching experience than in your national park? Bring your binoculars and see what you can spot this season!
Please be aware that playing recorded bird sounds in the national park is discouraged. Recorded bird calls or songs, such as from your favorite phone app, can greatly disturb species in the area, so please do not use them to attract birds for photos or other uses.
To see more bird photos and share some of your own, check out our birding Pinterest page >
Fall Birds in CVNP
As cooler weather starts to return to Ohio and the leaves begin to change color, many migrating birds also return to pass through the national park on their way south. Visit CVNP in the fall to see some of these gorgeous birds traveling to their winter homes. We’ve highlighted a couple key locations below for both new and experienced birders, as well as the birds you might spot if you visit.
To spot some of these wetland birds, park at the Ira Road trailhead, then walk north along the Towpath Trail to Beaver Marsh. Keep an eye out for other animals, too—Beaver Marsh is typically one of the best places to see wildlife in the park!
- Black-throated Green Warbler: Look for the bright yellow face, black throat, olive crown, and white belly of this small songbird, and listen for its persistent song: zoo-zee, zoo-zoo-zee!
- Nashville Warbler: This medium-sized warbler has a plain, olive-green back and wings with a yellow throat, breast, and belly and a white eye-ring.
- White-throated Sparrow: Listen for these birds’ distinctive “oh-sweet-Canada” song as they hop and fly near the ground, often scratching in leaves in search of food.
- Chimney Swift: You may have encountered chimney swifts nesting in your chimney before, but now you can look for them during the fall migration in aerial flocks. These graceful flyers spend most of their time airborne.
- Tree Swallow: The blue-green, iridescent backs of tree swallows flash in the sun as you watch these aerial acrobats catch flying insects above Beaver Marsh.
- Pied-billed Grebe: These expert divers are small, chunky swimming birds with virtually no tail. Look for these duck-like birds hiding in wetland vegetation.
- Wood Duck: Visit Beaver Marsh early in the morning to see large flocks of wood ducks on their way south. The male of this species is particularly striking, with its crested green head, bright white markings on the face, and chestnut breast.
Towpath Trail, north of Boston Store:
To explore this part of the Towpath Trail, park at the Boston Store Visitor Center, then walk north on the trail to Highland Road and Red Lock Trailhead for a chance to see the following birds.
- Common Yellowthroat: The bright yellow male of this species is hard to miss, with its distinctive black mask and recognizable song: witchety-witchety-witchety!
- Yellow-rumped Warbler: This relatively large songbird is the most common warbler seen in the Cuyahoga Valley for the most extended period of time during the fall.
- Swamp Sparrow: With unusually long legs, the streaky brown-grey swamp sparrow can wade in shallow water to forage for insects, even occasionally sticking its head underwater.
- Cedar Waxwing: Cedar waxwings are a warm brown color, with a rakish black mask, a yellow-tipped tail, and bright red wing accents. Look for them catching insects over the river.
- Eastern Bluebird: A cheery bright blue with a rusty red breast, bluebirds can frequently be seen perching on fruiting tree limbs, eating berries.
- Red-headed Woodpecker: While not a common bird, this stretch of the Towpath Trail is a good place to look for the bright red flash of the red-headed woodpecker, as it typically nests in this area.
- Large flocks of mixed blackbirds: At dusk, flocks of red-winged blackbirds, common grackles, brown-headed cowbirds, and rusty blackbirds descend to roost in the grasses and cattails.
American Birding Association Code of Ethics
The American Birding Association (ABA) tells us, “Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its environment, and the rights of others. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and wildlife and their environment comes first.” Please observe this and the following code of ethics when birding in CVNP:
- Promote the welfare of birds and wildlife and their environment.
- Support the protection of important bird habitats.
- To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming. Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas, or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area.
- Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover. Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups.
- Stay on trails, paths and roads where they exist; otherwise keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.
- Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas.
- Practice common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with other birders and park visitors.
To learn more about protecting and nurturing our fine-feathered friends, read the full list of ABA Principles of Birding Ethics here.