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White-Winged Crossbill

The section of Lake Erie between the cities of Huron and Lorain encompasses the “bottom of the bowl;” the southernmost curve of the lake. The fourteen sites in this region offer some of the finest birding in Ohio. The varied habitats include a power plant’s warm water outlet, sandy beaches, expansive woodlands, marshes, and reservoirs. The total species list for this loop is 325.

Some of Ohio's legendary "lake-watching" sites are on this loop, such as the Huron Harbor West Pier and Sherod Park. Chances of finding a fall jaeger at these spots are about as good as anywhere in the state. Lorain Harbor and vicinity has produced scores of rare birds, and is always interesting in peak migratory periods. If you can endure the cold, the open waters behind the power plant, adjacent to Miller Road Park, harbor outstanding duck and gull concentrations in the dead of winter.

Slightly inland are Oberlin and Wellington reservoirs; magnets for ducks. Nearly all of the common species can be found on their waters, and rarer birds such as scoters and Long-tailed Duck are regularly found. Findley State Park and Vermilion River Reservation are two sites that offer excellent woodland birding, and massive restored wetlands at Sandy Ridge Reservation have become famous for wetlands species such as bitterns, rails, and Sandhill Crane.

There is a reason that scores of serious birders flock to the sites on this loop. This part of Lake Erie regularly produces vagrants and exciting rarities. Six species—Tufted Duck, Pacific Loon, Spotted Redshank, Heermann's Gull, Royal Tern, and Green-tailed Towhee—have only been at sites on the Huron and Lorain Loop. The records of the duck, redshank, gull, and tern are the only Ohio records.

Many of these sites on the Huron and Lorain loop are not "natural"; they are highly altered habitats that nonetheless offer great vistas of Lake Erie and in season can produce an abundance of birds. Old Woman Creek and Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve contain outstanding examples of undisturbed wetlands and beach. A number of rare animals and plants occur at these sites. Vermilion River Reservation flanks the visually stunning Vermilion River and offers a taste of big woods and forest diversity.