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North Kingsville Sand Barrens

North Kingsville (Ashtabula Loop)

This preserve is one of the most interesting and significant natural areas in this region. Originally protected to conserve the dry sand barrens and its complement of rare species, the preserve also includes some mature swamp forest.

Key Species by Season


  • Field Sparrow
  • American Woodcock
  • Orchard Oriole


  • Song Sparrow
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Black-And-White Warbler


  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Philadelphia Vireo
  • Sharp-Shinned Hawk


  • Northern Cardinal
  • White-Throated Sparrow
  • Great Horned Owl


2 - North Kingsville Sand Barrens

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Hiking Trails

GPS Coordinates
N 41° 55'52.61"; W 80° 38'50.10"

Driving Directions
Take I-90 East to exit 235 (OH-84/OH-193) and go north on 193 into the town of North Kingsville. Turn right onto E. Center St., go 2.5 miles, then turn left on Poone Rd. the preserve is on the left after the railroad tracks.

What to Look For

North Kingsville Sand Barrens was acquired by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in 1990. It is only 118 acres, but the preserve is one of the most interesting and significant natural areas in this region. Originally protected to conserve the dry sand barrens and its complement of rare species, the preserve also includes some mature swamp forest.

Spring and summer are the best times to visit, when resident breeders are present. Over 80 species have been found nesting locally. Many woodland birds typical of northeastern Ohio can be found. Interesting species in the area include Purple Finch, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, and Cerulean Warbler.

Noteworthy Rarities

The hemlock/hardwood swamp supports much rarer nesters some years, such as Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren, and Magnolia Warbler. Shrubland species such as Blue-winged Warbler and White-eyed Vireo can be found in the area.

Natural Features

North Kingsville Sand Barrens is a treasure trove of rare species, and a naturalist's delight. Several very rare plants occur, such as Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum) and Bluebead Lily (Clintonia borealis). The site is especially showy in May, when the Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) is in bloom. The sand barrens are habitat to rare beetles, spiders, and an endangered moss as well.

Local Resources

Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Cleveland Museum of Natural History

About the Ashtabula Loop

The northeastern shore of Lake Erie is the most sparsely populated corner of Lake Erie in Ohio, and the section least visited by birders. Nonetheless, scores of rarities have turned up in the region and huge numbers of migrant shorebirds, gulls, and waterfowl pass through.

Tucked in the extreme northeastern corner of Ohio, this section of the Lake Erie Birding Trail features the least developed shoreline on the trail. Five sites are featured on this loop, and one of them, Conneaut Harbor, has produced in an inordinate number of very rare birds. The total species list for this loop is 313, and two of those – Red-necked Stint and Black-throated Sparrow – have only been found in this region.

What to Look For

This section of the trail is located in Ohio's extreme northeastern corner. Included are sites in Ashtabula County (Ohio's largest county), and neighboring Lake County (Ohio's smallest county). This region can produce outstanding birding and rarities seldom seen elsewhere.

Conneaut Harbor is legendary among Ohio birders and regularly draws people from all over the state. Conneaut boasts a lengthy list of rarities, and an impressive list of migrant shorebirds.

The best birding on the Ashtabula Loop is during fall migration. By early July, many species of shorebirds begin to appear in Ohio. These early returning plovers and sandpipers are all adults; probably individuals who failed in their nesting attempt. Most shorebirds seen in Ohio breed in the tundra, and the brief Arctic summer doesn't allow for a second chance if the first nest fails.

As fall migration picks up, wooded sites can be filled with migrating songbirds: warblers, vireos, flycatchers, grosbeaks, and others. Marshy areas are good for sparrows, rails, and herons. As late fall rolls into early winter, scads of ducks and gulls move along the Lake Erie shoreline.

Noteworthy Rarities

Many exceptional rarities have turned up in the Ashtabula area. Some of the more noteworthy include King Eider, Barrow's Goldeneye, Northern Gannet, Brown Pelican, Piping Plover, Red-necked Stint (only Ohio record), Sabine's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Ross's Gull, and Cave Swallow. Some of the sites on the Ashtabula Loop are also excellent spots to find birds that are seldom seen in the state other than along the Lake Erie shore: Brant, all three scoter species, Long-tailed duck, Whimbrel, Red Knot, Red Phalarope, and Nelson's Sparrow.

Natural Features

All of the sites included in the Ashtabula Loop contain beach dune plant communities, a habitat that has become quite rare in Ohio. A number of threatened and endangered plant species occur at these sites. All of the five stops on the loop can also be very good for butterflies and dragonflies. Some of these insects are highly migratory, and just as birds do, tend to stop their northward flights when they meet Lake Erie. Lakefront habitats can be good places to look for unusual species such as the Striped Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea calverti). Many southbound Monarch butterflies cross Lake Erie and can collect in large numbers in September along the lake.

North Kingsville Sand Barrens
W9J3+G2 Conneaut, Ohio

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