Nature

Try Cuyahoga Valley National Park for Photographing the Spring Bird Migration

Each year in April and May, the spring bird migration travels through the state of Ohio.   Thousands of warblers, orioles, thrushes, flycatchers and other songbirds migrate through the state.

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

Magee Marsh is one of the well known hot spots for photographing and watching birds during the spring migration.  But Magee Marsh can get very crowded and is a couple of hour drive if you live in the northeastern part of the state.  The Biggest Week in American Birding festival is also held at Magee in the spring which brings thousands of birders and photographers to the area.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) is located in Northeast Ohio.  It is a long and skinny National park that follows the Cuyahoga River.  CVNP is also a good spot for spotting and photographing warblers and other migrants, and is also more convenient to people living in Northeast Ohio.

One of my favorite spots in the park is the area called the Beaver Marsh that can be accessed from the Ira Road Trailhead.  The towpath runs along a canal for over a mile. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Warblers and other birds can be photographed across the canal from the towpath.  The canal provides a safe barrier between the birds and the photographers and bird watchers.  They seem comfortable going about their business while photographers are photographing them from across the canal.

Morning is better for photographing birds across the canal as the canal is located to the west of the towpath.  However, birds can also be photographed in the trees to the east of the towpath in the evening.

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

One morning in mid April, I spotted and photographed.  Several Yellow-rumped warblers, a Pine Warbler,  a Palm Warbler, and several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers in a period of 2 hours.

A 400mm or 500mm lens with a Canon 1.4X Telephoto Extender is plenty of reach for photographing small birds across the canal.  The photos in this blog post were taken using the Canon 500mm f/4 lens and Canon 1.4x Telephoto Extender for an effective focal length of 700mm.  I would recommend a focal length of at least 500mm for photographing these small birds.

Other local species such as Great Blue Herons, Tree Swallows, Tufted Titmouse, Wood Ducks, and Nuthatches can also be photographed in the park.

Written by Martin Belan

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