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Ohio

Lake Erie: Birding the Islands and Shores

Program No. 12641RJ
There’s no place like the Lake Erie Islands when it comes to bird migrations: beautiful trees, blue skies and myriad birds passing through. Bring your binoculars, this is a good one!
Length
6 days
Rating (4.94)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,399

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climate
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itinerary
Please Note:
The itinerary for this program is different on certain dates.
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
1,399
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
1,399
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
1,499
Itinerary Note

This departure takes place on Kelleys Island with a visit by small plane to Pelee Island, Canada. It does not include Point Pelee National Park. Accommodations at the Kelleys Island Venture Resort. Thursday travel by small plane, departing from Port Clinton Airport (on mainland) to reach Pelee Island. Thursday night accommodation in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,549
Itinerary Note

This departure does not include Point Pelee National Park.

Oct 22 - Oct 27, 2023
Starting at
1,899
Itinerary Note

This departure takes place on Kelleys Island at the Kelleys Island Venture Resort and does not include Point Pelee National Park.

DATES & starting prices
PRICES
May 7 - May 12, 2023
Starting at
1,669
May 14 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
1,669
May 21 - May 26, 2023
Starting at
1,769
Itinerary Note

This departure takes place on Kelleys Island with a visit by small plane to Pelee Island, Canada. It does not include Point Pelee National Park. Accommodations at the Kelleys Island Venture Resort. Thursday travel by small plane, departing from Port Clinton Airport (on mainland) to reach Pelee Island. Thursday night accommodation in Port Clinton, Ohio.

Sep 10 - Sep 15, 2023
Starting at
1,819
Itinerary Note

This departure does not include Point Pelee National Park.

Oct 22 - Oct 27, 2023
Starting at
2,169
Itinerary Note

This departure takes place on Kelleys Island at the Kelleys Island Venture Resort and does not include Point Pelee National Park.

At a Glance

Welcome to the beautiful Lake Erie Islands, where more than 450 bird species pass through during their annual migration. Witness this journey and gain authoritative knowledge of the many species you observe — including Black-throated Green Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers and Indigo Buntings. Take part in walks, lectures, bird-banding and more, all led by local bird experts.
Activity Level
Outdoor: No Sweat
This program can accommodate most accessibility requirements. The hiking trails on the islands are all relatively short (less than 2 miles) and flat, with slow walking and standing for short increments. Most trails are free of obstacles, though some areas have uneven terrain. Our Group Leaders will make everyone aware of any potential walking hazards. The famous Magee Marsh Boardwalk may have crowds, but the boardwalk is handicap-accessible and equipped with railings and benches at regular intervals.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • On select dates, enjoy a special field trip via ferry to Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, Canada, a prime vantage point to observe migrating birds.
  • Observe seasonal migrations at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, a 2,200 acre state wildlife refuge located on the shores of Lake Erie.
  • Learn about the importance of bird banding during a presentation led by Master Bander Tom Bartlett.

General Notes

Select dates enjoy a special field trip to Canada and require a U.S. passport. Participants are divided between three B&B’s for the duration of the program. Please see Lodging and Meals for details. Requests can be made for specific B&Bs. All Road Scholar birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1 in the field. We adhere to the American Birding Association’s Code of Ethics. Learn more at http://www.aba.org/about/ethics.html
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Tom Bartlett
Tom is a retired biology instructor with an MS in biology and education from the University of Toledo. He has banded over 90,000 birds of over 200 species since 1971. Tom has led bird banding and census efforts at Springville Marsh State Nature Preserve for more than 35 years and the Lake Erie Islands for more than 25 years. A Road Scholar instructor since 2003, he has traveled and birded extensively across North America, as well as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Great Britain.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Lisa Brohl
Lisa Kutschbach Brohl View biography
Lisa Brohl lives on South Bass Island in the western end of Lake Erie with her husband Russ. She holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management and a master’s degree in environmental studies. She is chair of the Lake Erie Islands Conservancy and a founding board member of the Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center and the Put-in-Bay Township Park District. Lisa has been involved with Road Scholar as an instructor or Group Leader since 2000.
Profile Image of Kristin Stanford
Kristin M Stanford View biography
Kristin Stanford received her BS, MS, and PhD degrees from Northern Illinois University. She has been actively involved in Lake Erie watersnake (LEWS) conservation for almost 20 years and has served as the recovery coordinator since 2003. She currently works for The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory as the Education and Outreach Coordinator, responsible for overseeing the programming logistics for this nationally recognized education and outreach venue. Kristin also continues to facilitate the research, management, and outreach needed to maintain recovery for the LEWS.
Profile Image of Tom Bartlett
Tom Bartlett View biography
Tom is a retired biology instructor with an MS in biology and education from the University of Toledo. He has banded over 90,000 birds of over 200 species since 1971. Tom has led bird banding and census efforts at Springville Marsh State Nature Preserve for more than 35 years and the Lake Erie Islands for more than 25 years. A Road Scholar instructor since 2003, he has traveled and birded extensively across North America, as well as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru and Great Britain.
Profile Image of Valerie Chornyak
Valerie Nose Chornyak View biography
Valerie was born on Put-in-Bay, Ohio and spent most of her life in Columbus before returning to her home town. She taught jazzercise for almost 25 years and is now very active in her community in many ways including teaching and volunteering at the Senior Center, Nature and Wildlife Center and the Historical Society. When she has a spare moment, Val enjoys an active life of tennis, walking, golf and the OWLS book club. She has three children and seven grandchildren and loves sunsets.
Profile Image of Tammy Martin
Tammy Martin View biography
Tammy Martin, now of Napoleon, Ohio, retired from Oberlin College where she worked as a library cataloger. She earned her BS and MS in environmental interpretation from The Ohio State University. During college, Tammy worked as a seasonal naturalist on the Blue Ridge Parkway for the National Park Service. She returned to academia for employment in the library field, during which time she and husband, Dan, raised twins. After their graduation, Tammy found time to revive her interest in birding and hasn’t looked back.
Profile Image of Tyler McClain
Tyler McClain View biography
Tyler McClain is studying environmental studies at University of Toledo. He hopes to pursue a career as a naturalist at a State Park or a job related to that field. He has been leading trips for three years at the Biggest Week in Birding. He also volunteers at a bird banding station in Carey, Ohio and has been since he was seven years old. In his free time he enjoys fishing, herping and taking photos of anything from animals to landscapes.
Profile Image of Nancy Welter
Nancy Welter View biography
Nancy Welter is a retired program analyst from NASA at the Glenn Research Center. She currently works part-time for the State of Ohio at the Middle Bass Island State Park. She is a year-round resident of Middle Bass Island and lives near the Middle Bass Island East Point Preserve. She is a board member of the Lake Erie Island Conservancy. She enjoys birding and volunteers with the bird banding effort on the Islands.
Profile Image of Shane Roberts
Shane Roberts View biography
Shane Roberts was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and settled in Perrysburg, Ohio, in 2002. A young age, Shane has had a keen interest in wildlife, especially birds. Since 2002, he has been one of Tom Bartlett’s bird banding assistants. Shane and his wife are members of Kelleys Island Audubon Club, Black Swamp Bird Observatory, and Friends of Magee Marsh. He has served in several positions with the Friends of Magee Marsh and volunteers for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.
Profile Image of Chris Ashley
Chris Ashley View biography
Chris Ashley is the manager of nearly 700 acres of state properties on Kelleys Island. He is responsible for all the wildlife and habitat management in these unique areas. He has assisted in bird banding and led birding excursions for over 25 years. Chris was one of the founding directors of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and recently was awarded Conservation Partner of the year from Ducks Unlimited.
Profile Image of Pat Hayes
Pat Hayes, of Kelleys Island, has been introducing people to the eco-heritage of Kelleys Island for 38 years through his Inn, The Inn on Kelleys Island. With a help of a few friends, he formed the Kelleys Island Audubon Club in 1993. The club’s focus is to educate island residents and visitors alike of the many unique habitats on the island that attract birds, monarchs and rare plants. He is very proud that a third of the island is now in Preserve status.
Profile Image of Amy Alford
Amy Alford View biography
Amy Alford is the Program Assistant at Lake Erie Islands Nature and Wildlife Center. She has a B.S. in Zoology from The Ohio State University, a M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Mississippi State University. Amy fell in love with fish when she was an undergrad student at Stone Laboratory, the Ohio State University's research and education station in Put-In-Bay, Ohio. She is delighted to return to her home state and make conservation education and research accessible to everyone.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Oliver Hazard Perry and the Battle of Lake Erie
by Gerard T. Altoff
A gripping and absorbing narrative, yet an easily understood and highly readable account of the Old Northwest's most significant military event. The focus of the book is the naval conflict itself. Reviewed in detail are the armament and tactical maneuverings of the two squadrons; however, the stories of the American and British crewmen constitute the heart of this book. The book also relates the important events leading up to the Battle of Lake Erie. Described are the strategic significance of Lake Erie, the campaigns of the War of 1812 in the Old Northwest preceding the Battle of Lake Erie, plus the story of both the building and manning of the American squadron. Containing numerous maps and illustrations, it is a concise and fascinating account of the turning point of the War of 1812 in the Old Northwest.
Birds of the Lake Erie Region
by Carolyn V. Platt, Gary Meszaros
Birds of the Lake Erie Region observes a year of weather changes and avian migrations - from the wintertime convergence of ducks and other waterbirds on the lake’s last ice-free areas to the excitement of the raptor and shorebird migrations in the fall. Expert or novice, birders and nature lovers will be moved by Platt’s celebration of these birds and their habitat and by Meszaros’s impressive photographs of the delicate beauty of these exquisite creatures.
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5 B 5 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Put-in-Bay, Ohio
D
English Pines Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: B&B check-in from 3:00 p.m. Walking short distances to dinner and orientation.

Afternoon: Program Registration: 5:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, walk or take your personal vehicle to join us at The Crew’s Nest waterfront restaurant to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived.

Dinner: At The Crew’s Nest.

Evening: Orientation: 6:45 p.m. at Put-in-Bay Town Hall. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID protocols and will adhere to applicable requirements and guidelines throughout the program. The program is staffed with a birding leader who will provide educational content, a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics, and a series of local birding experts who will help lead field trips and provide evening lectures. For most of the time, we will use taxi vans to travel to various birding locations and other locations not accessible by walking. On Tuesday, we will travel by ferry to Gibraltar Island. On Thursday, we will travel by ferry to Point Pelee, Canada. Please note that a valid passport is required to travel to Point Pelee National Park at the southernmost point of the Canadian mainland. Breakfasts will be at our B&B. Dinners will be at The Crew’s Nest as well as lunches except Thursday and Friday when we will have box lunches in the field. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/current conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Bird Walk, Island Field Trip, War of 1812, Bird Migration
Put-in-Bay, Ohio
B,L,D
English Pines Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Getting in/out of taxi vans; driving about 2 miles, approximately 1/4 hour riding time. Getting on/off open-air train; driving about 3 miles approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking about 1 mile, approximately 4 hours; uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the B&B.

Morning: We will gather at the Town Hall and divide into three small groups (up to 10 participants each). We’ll then take taxi vans for our first birding field trip around the island, led by expert birders. In addition to public spots, we have permission to explore private property. We’ll return to the Town Hall mid-morning.

Lunch: At The Crew’s Nest.

Afternoon: We’ll board an open-air train for an exploration of South Bass Island to learn about the over 150-year history of the land and people. We’ll drive past the most iconic feature of South Bass Island, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, the world’s largest Doric Column. (The Memorial itself will not be open to visitors at the time of the program.) Returning to Town Hall, we’ll have a presentation by a National Park Ranger from the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. We’ll learn about the War of 1812 and how the Battle of Lake Erie proved to be a turning point for the Americans against the British and their allies.

Dinner: At The Crew’s Nest.

Evening: At the historic town hall, we’ll update our bird checklist with what we spotted this morning, then hear a lecture on bird migration by regional bird conservation experts.

DAY
3
Bird Walk, Gibraltar Island, Stone Laboratory
Put-in-Bay, Ohio
B,L,D
English Pines Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Getting in/out of taxi vans; driving about 2 miles, approximately 1/4 hour riding time. Getting on/off a boat. Walking about 1 mile, approximately 4 hours in the morning; uneven terrain. Walking short distances on Gibraltar Island.

Breakfast: At the B&B.

Morning: We’ll head out on another expert-led walking field trip to find more birds, returning to the Town Hall mid-morning for a short break before returning to look for even more birds.

Lunch: At The Crew’s Nest.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll board a boat and cruise for 1/4 hour to Gibraltar Island. This small island is the location of Cooke Castle, the historic summer home of Civil War financier Jay Cooke and later the headquarters of The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, the oldest freshwater lab in the U.S. We’ll have a walking lecture from OSU staff while also looking for birds. We’ll return on the boat to Put-in-Bay with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At The Crew’s Nest.

Evening: At the Town Hall, we’ll update our bird checklist, then hear a presentation by Master Bird Bander Tom Bartlett on his specialty, bird banding, the act of catching birds and tagging them for study.

DAY
4
Bird Banding, Nature Museum, Historic Island Winery & Cave
Put-in-Bay, Ohio
B,L,D
English Pines Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Getting in/out of taxi vans; driving about 2 miles, approximately 1/4 hour riding time. Walking up to 1 mile, approximately 4 hours; uneven terrain, steep stairs to caves.

Breakfast: At the B&B.

Morning: We’ll take taxi vans to the start point of today’s birding walking field trip, this time focusing on bird banding by master bander Tom Bartlett as discussed in his presentation the previous night.

Lunch: At The Crew’s Nest.

Afternoon: We’ll walk to the Town Hall for a presentation with live birds of prey. We’ll then head via taxi vans to the Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center, where we’ll explore the facility and learn about their programming. Finally, we’ll visit Heineman’s Winery and Crystal Cave, a location that holds the world’s largest geode: measuring 35 feet at its widest point!

Dinner: At The Crew’s Nest.

Evening: Back at the Town Hall, we’ll update our bird checklists and hear again from local bird experts on the spring warblers that migrate through the region.

DAY
5
Point Pelee National Park Full-day Birding Field Trip
Put-in-Bay, Ohio
B,L,D
English Pines Bed & Breakfast

Activity note: Getting on/off a ferry. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day; generally even trail terrain. A tram is available for participants who do not want to walk the trails. A valid passport is required to travel to Point Pelee National Park.

Breakfast: At the B&B.

Morning: We’ll take a taxi from our B&B to board a ferry for a 3/4 hour ride to Leamington, Ontario. We’ll go on a full-day birding field trip as we walk in Point Pelee National Park, the “Warbler Capital of Canada.” The park plays host to a “festival” of birds every May. Along with three experienced birders, we’ll keep an eye out for up to 36 different warbler species.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have box lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our birding walk at Point Pelee National Park. We will be able to join one of our five birding experts or explore independently. At an announced time and place, we’ll board the ferry and return to Put-in-Bay.

Dinner: At The Crew’s Nest. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: Before leaving the restaurant, we’ll do a final update of the bird checklist and discuss closing procedures. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Magee Marsh, Program Concludes
Put-in-Bay, Ohio
B,L

Activity note: B&B check-out 7:00-8:00 a.m. Getting on/off a ferry. Driving own vehicles to Magee Marsh. Walking 1 mile, approximately 3 hours; accessible woodland bird trail.

Breakfast: At the B&B.

Morning: We’ll check out of our B&Bs and say goodbye to Put-in-Bay as we return by ferry to the mainland. Upon reaching shore, we’ll drive independently to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area for a final birding walk. This 2,200-acre state wildlife area on the shore of Lake Erie is mainly popular with waterfowl hunters, but in May, birders from all over the world converge on the marsh for the best opportunity to spot a variety of warblers stopping over before continuing their northward migration.

Lunch: On the trail, we’ll have box lunches. This concludes our program.

Afternoon: If you are returning home, safe travels! If you are staying on independently in the area, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.