Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X / search

  • At-A-Glance
  • What to Look For
  • Noteworthy Rarities
  • Natural Features
  • Local Resources
  • 11 - Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve

    Division of Natural Areas and Preserves
    Ohio Department of Natural Resources
    9601 Headlands Road
    Mentor, OH 44060


    Public Access

    Open daily, dawn until dusk


    Hiking Trails, Restrooms (available at the adjacent state park), Picnic Area

    GPS Coordinates

    N 41° 45'16.09"; W 81° 17'33.66"

    Driving Directions

    From the intersection of State Route 2 and State Route 44, head north on State Route 44 to Headlands Beach State Park. Follow state park driveway east to Parking Lot 1. The preserve entrance is located at the end of Parking Lot 1.

    What to Look For

    This legendary site is one of the best-birded sites in Ohio, and is famous for its rarities and big fallouts of migrants. The rock jetty that runs out to the lighthouse is a fantastic observation point for conducting "sea watches" as well. The total Headlands list is well over 300 species—approximately ¾ of the entire Ohio bird list. Not bad for a 25-acre preserve!

    Spring and fall migrations bring a great diversity of songbirds, and sometimes in enormous numbers. Over 100 species is possible on a good May or Spetember day. All of the regularly occurring songbirds found in northeast Ohio can occurr at Headlands every year, including all of the warbler species and all, or nearly all, sparrow species.

    Late fall and early winter is best for lake-watching from the jetty. Monstrous flocks of Red-breasted Mergansers swirl offshore, and staggering numbers of Bonaparte's Gulls can gather. Nearly all of the regularly occurring diving ducks and gulls can be found.

    The extensive sand beach is great for birding—swimming is not permitted and thus the beach is much more bird-friendly than the busy state park beach to the west. A variety of gulls, terns, and shorebirds can be found roosting or feeding.

    Noteworthy Rarities

    Far too many to cite, but following are some highlights: Northern Gannet, Purple Sandpiper, Piping Plover, Red Phalarope, all three scoters, Harlequin Duck, Ross's Gull, Parasitic and Pomarine jaegers, Gray Flycatcher, Kirtland's and Swainson's warblers, and Le Conte's Sparrow.

    Natural Features

    Headland's Dunes protects the best remaining Lake Erie beach community in Ohio. There is a well-developed stand of American beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata) and other native grasses. Many rare plants occur on the dunes, including inland beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus) and dwarf bulrush (Lipocarpha micrantha). The wave-washed beach zone hosts seaside spurge (Euphorbia polygonifolia) and inland sea-rocket (Cakile edentula), two other botanical rarities.