Fernald Preserve

From 1951 till 1989 the Feed Materials Production Center at Fernald, near Ross Ohio, processed low-level uranium for use in nuclear bombs. Fernald is one of 2 former nuclear sites that have been decontaminated to the point where the public can visit. The other is Weldon Spring, a former Army facility 30 miles west of St. Louis. Both are part of the Department of Energy’s Legacy Management Program, which is in charge of the long-term management of sites that have been cleaned up.

Fernald covers 1,050 acres, with over 320 acres being grassland. With the addition of 7 miles of hiking trails you can see why this place is a great place to go birding. And one of my favorite grassland birds that frequents Fernald this time of year is the Dickcissel. And considering Fernalds past I don’t see in the foreseeable future any developments or soccer fields stripping this wonderful habitat.

It’s been hot in the Ohio Valley this week. Temps are reaching into the 90’s and the humidity has tipped that really uncomfortable level. So I headed out in the morning trying to see my target bird for the day before I started to melt. I wasn’t too log after arriving when I heard my first Dickcissel.


IMG_2822This is how you’d normally see them. Perched atop of a small tree or bush with their head thrown back singing.



IMG_2806Eastern Goldfinch’s are a dime-a-dozen at Fernald, however I thought this photo was particularly good.

IMG_2856I can’t help myself, I’m a sucker for Eastern Kingbirds

4 responses to “Fernald Preserve

  1. I’ve only had a few fleeting glances of Dickcissels this far east, and no good photos. I think they are more likely seen out your way. Beautiful shots.

  2. Discovered your blog by accident a few days ago – coincident about the same time I too had a decent photo of a Dick Cissell. Also I visit the Weldon Spring area you referenced in this post. Your blog is a pleasure to read – thanks for sharing.
    I am looking for some ideas, hints/tips on making a trip to Magee Marsh and surrounding area for Spring 2016 – seems a bit overwhelming in figuring it out to make efficient use of time, etc.

    The Dick Cissell ( in the first listed album – Cuivre River Park)

    • I’ve been regularly visiting Magee Marsh for several years now, and I’ve stayed in several different spots on each of my visit. For convenience and close proximity to Magee Marsh, Ottawa NWR and Metzger Marsh staying at Maumee Bay State Park is a great option. But try to make reservation now, they go quick. I’ve stayed at the camp ground and also in the hotel and it’s very nice. Next year we rented one of the cabins and extended our stay a few more days. I’ve also stayed in a hotel in Oregon Ohio, on the outskirts of Toledo and in Port Clinton. Either one will require a bit of a drive, but it offers more options on hotels. As you can imagine the boardwalk can be very, very crowded. Especially during the festival, however there is some good that comes out from being busy. Tons of eyes on the birds, especially the rare ones. During the festival there will be guides on the boardwalk that are extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The best time for me to get there is real early in the morning when just a few people are there. But you have to make a commitment to crawl out of bed early to have some quiet time on the boardwalk. During the festival there is usually a tent set up just outside the boardwalk with some helpful folks you can point you to other great birding locations just a short drive away.
      Anyway if you let me know when you’re planning your visit I can check it against my calendar and see if we are there at the same time. It’d be fun to bird with one of my readers. I can drive which would take some pressure off you trying to find these places on your own. You can always contact me through my blog, or my personal e-mail
      Look forward to hearing from you.

  3. Thank you so much Les for such a nice detailed response about the Magee Marsh birding – very helpful. I’ll follow-up with an email.

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