Some of my coldest, most memorable birding has been along the icy shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland. If you are a gull enthusiast — nut? — this is the place to be. When extended cold snaps lock our fourth largest Great Lake in ice, the warm water outflows of the power plant at East 72nd St. create unfrozen leads — and productive birding. It’s a gullapalooza, as scads of Herring, Ring-billed, and jumbo Great Black-backed Gulls converge to feast on dead gizzard shad. The Big Three are joined by ghostly Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, and sharp-eyed birders routinely pick out Thayer’s Gulls. In all, 19 gull species have been recorded in the Cleveland area, making the region one of North America’s premier gull hotspots. Rarities have included Black-headed, Mew, California, and Ivory Gulls.
Ducks also abound, often at your fingertips. Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Canvasback, and the occasional scoter occur. It was in this area that Ohio’s only Tufted Duck appeared, and there are records of Barrow’s Goldeneye and King Eider. Peregrine Falcons nest on the power plant and make occasional grabs at waterbirds. — Jim McCormac
Jim McCormac is the author of Birds of Ohio. He writes the blog Ohio Birds and Biodiversity. He also wrote about Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area, Hotspot Near You No. 23, The Wilds, Cumberland, Ohio, No. 55, and Scioto Audubon Metro Park, Columbus, Ohio, No. 73.