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 >
Spring Birds in CVNP
Springtime is a great time to go birding, as many of the birds that migrate south for winter start to return. Some species continue north, stopping only for a short break in northeast Ohio, but many stay to nest and spend their summers in our beautiful national park.
If you’re hoping to spot some birds this spring, we recommend visiting one of the locations below, which are prime spots for birders both new and experienced. We’ve included a selection of birds that you might see in each area, most of which are migrant species returning to the area for summer.
Station Road Bridge Trailhead
Walk either north or south along the Towpath from this trailhead to see a variety of species, from tiny, bright warblers to majestic eagles.
- Bald Eagle: An unmistakable sight, bald eagles are again nesting in CVNP this season. While areas near the nest are closed to prevent disturbing the eagles, you can see the nest if you walk a half-mile north on the Towpath, then follow the horse path toward the river. Try to spot the two young eaglets in the nest!
- Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher: These tiny birds have long, conspicuous black and white tails, pale blue-gray blacks, and white eye-rings.
- Red-headed Woodpecker: You might catch a glimpse of these striking, uncommon woodpeckers crossing the Cuyahoga River if you head either north or south along the Towpath.
- Cerulean Warbler: Look for the blue or blue-green color on these small, long-winged warblers. The blue is brightest on the crown of adult males.
- Yellow-throated Warbler: A strikingly-patterned bird with a bright yellow throat, black cheek, and white on the sides of the neck, this warbler likes to forage for insects by creeping along branches, especially in sycamore trees.
- Northern Waterthrush: This migrant species passes through CVNP on its way north for the summer. You can usually see it on the ground near stagnant water, pumping its tail up and down.
- Louisiana Waterthrush: Very similar to the Northern Waterthrush, you can distinguish the Louisiana Waterthrush by the broader, whiter "eyebrow" and sparser brown streaks on its white underparts.
- Wilson's Warbler: A very small, long-tailed warbler, this bird often raises its tail and flips it about.
This lush wetland is home to many different types of waterfowl and water-loving birds. Take a seat along the boardwalk, particularly in the early morning or evening, to see a spectacular avian show!
- Green Heron: A shy, secretive little heron, this species prefers to perch in the shadows as it waits for fish to swim by. You might hear its nervous kuk-kuk-kuk if you get too close.
- Wood Duck: The male of this species is particularly striking, with its crested green head, bright white markings on the face, and chestnut breast.
- Virginia Rail: This solitary, shy rail has a long bill and overall dark color, and frequently spends time in tall cattails or other reedy plants around the marsh. Go in early morning or evening to catch a glimpse.
- Sora: You might see this short-billed bird walking along the edges of vegetation and feeding in the open. Like the Virginia Rail, the Sora is more active in early morning and later in the evening.
- Warbling Vireo: Look for a plain, pale, and grayish bird overall, with hints of olive or yellow on its back or flanks.
- Baltimore Oriole: A flash of bright orange likely signals a Baltimore Oriole is nearby - keep an eye out for the white wing-bars, blueish bill, and mostly orange tail.
- Orchard Oriole: For more advanced birders who want a challenge, look for the Orchard Oriole in this area, with the distinctive dark chestnut color in the male or greenish color in the female. Listen for its rich, lively warbling song as well.
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.