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Buff-Breasted Sandpiper

The most prominent bridge along Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline is the State Route 2 span over massive Sandusky Bay. Historically, the bay was ringed with mixed-emergent marshes and prairie wetlands, most of which have been destroyed. However, large marshlands are still protected and provide some of the most important bird habitat along Lake Erie. Sandusky Bay and vicinity is a very important stopover area for migratory waterfowl. The total species list for this loop is 313, and three of them – Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Ancient Murrelet – have only been found in this region.

The massive Sandusky Bay is the most conspicuous bay on Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline. State Route 2 passes over the bay via a bridge that is over 2.5 miles in length, and is crossed by many of the nearly 7 million visitors that come to the Sandusky Bay region each year. This region of Lake Erie is renowned for its marshes and the tremendous numbers of waterfowl that occur in migration. Historically, vast wet prairies occurred, especially along the southern reaches of Sandusky Bay. While most of these prairies have been lost, remnants still exist, such as Resthaven Wildlife Area.

The total species list for this loop is 313, and three of them—Blackbellied Whistling-Duck, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Ancient Murrelet— have only been found in this region. Many other rare birds have been seen here, including Eurasian Wigeon, Tricolored Heron, Western Tanager, and White-faced Ibis.

The largest remaining marshes in Ohio buffer the western end of Lake Erie. In addition to supporting tremendous numbers and diversity of birds, these wetlands also harbor many other animals and an impressive diversity of plants. Species of plants that are now threatened or endangered, such as wild rice and bullhead-lily, can still be found. Two interesting reptiles that can be found are the Blanding’s turtle and Eastern fox snake, both of which are largely confined to the western Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio. Large numbers of dragonflies of many species live in the marshes, and occasionally rare migrant dragonflies are found, such as the striped saddlebags.