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Oak Openings Preserve Metropark

Oak Openings Preserve Metropark (Oak Openings Loop)

The park encompasses nearly 5,000 acres of the richest biodiversity found in northwest Ohio. A staggering number of state-listed rare plants and animals are found within the park; a greater density of rarities than any other site in Ohio.

Key Species by Season

Spring

  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Lark Sparrow
  • Eastern Whip-Poor-Will

Summer

  • Pine Warbler
  • Kentucky Warbler
  • Blue-Winged Warbler

Fall

  • Broad-Winged Hawk
  • Blue-Headed Vireo
  • Tennessee Warbler

Winter

  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Great Horned Owl
  • Barred Owl

At-a-Glance

87 - Oak Openings Preserve
Metroparks of the Toledo Area
4139 Girdham Road
Swanton, OH 43558

419.826.6463

Public Access
Open daily, 7 a.m. to dusk

Amenities
Hiking Trails, Restrooms, Visitors Center, Checklist Available, Picnic Area, Equestrian Trails, Wildlife Observation Window, Handicap Accessible Trails, Sightings Board, Group Camping Available

Driving Directions
The park is located two miles west of Toledo Express Airport in Swanton with entrances off Wilkins Road, SR 64 and SR 2.

What to Look For

The park encompasses nearly 5,000 acres of the richest biodiversity found in northwest Ohio. A staggering number of state-listed rare plants and animals are gound within the park; a greater density of rarities than any other site in Ohio. A number of breeding birds hard to find elsewhere in this region occur, such as Eastern Whip-poor-will, Broad-winged Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Cerulean and Kentucky warblers, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Summer Tanager. Old stand of planted red and white pine have supported nesting Golden-crowned Kinglets, and often harbor Pine Warbler. Successional fields can host Blue-winged and Prairie warblers, and Yellow-breasted Chat. Spectacular raptor movements pass over the park in fall migration, including large numbers of Broad-winged Hawks and other buteos and accipiters, and a few Golden Eagles.

Noteworthy Rarities

The park and vicinity supports Ohio's only reliable population of breeding Lark Sparrows. Look for them along Girdham Road, south of Monclova Road. There has been a territorial Clay-colored Sparrow in this area before, as well. Blue Grosbeaks sometimes summer in larger meadows, and Canada and Mourning warblers have nested locally. The park can also be good for winter finches and other boreal irruptives, and there is a 2008 record of Pine Grosbeak.

Natural Features

The metropark is a hotbed of rare plant species and a botanist's dream. The dry sandy blowouts, such as along Gridham Road, support many rarities including wild lupine (Lupinus perennis) and plains puccoon (Lithospermum caroliniense). Scads of interesting butterflies and dragonflies can be found, and noteworthy snakes include the blue racer.

Local Resources

Destination Toledo 
Metroparks of the Toledo Area  
Ohio Ornithological Society    

About the Oak Openings Loop

The Oak Openings is legendary for the diversity of rare plants that occur here. The highly specialized habitats that comprise this ecosystem support more species of state-listed rare plants than any other region of Ohio.

The defining feature of the Oak Openings is sand. This unique region is situated on the former shores of preglacial Lake Warren, modern day Lake Erie’s much larger predecessor. As Lake Warren receded, it left its dunes and beach ridges in its wake, and these sands are now carpeted with oak savannas, dry prairie, and wet sedge meadows in low-lying areas.

What To Look For

The Oak Openings buffers the western end of Lake Erie, and lies just west of Toledo. The sandy prairies, wet sedge meadows, and oak savannas of this highly specialized ecosystem once covered about 300 square miles; today, only about 130 square miles remain. This region contains the best habitats to be found in the northwestern corner of Ohio, and many bird species breed in the Oak Openings that are difficult or impossible to find elsewhere in this region. The Oak Openings is also known for its fall hawk flights. Raptors streaming around the western end of Lake Erie funnel through this area, sometimes in large numbers. The largest kettle of Broad-winged Hawks recorded in Ohio was seen near Perrysburg – about 20,000 birds on September 18th, 2002.

Noteworthy Rarities

A number of species breed in the Oak Openings that are a challenge to find elsewhere in northern Ohio, such as Eastern Whip-poor-will, Summer Tanager, and on occasion, Blue Grosbeak. The premier breeding rarity is the Lark Sparrow; the Oak Openings population is the easternmost in this species’ range. Other western species, such as Clay-colored Sparrow and Western Meadowlark, have bred or attempted to breed in this area as well. Golden Eagles are regularly spotted in migration, and good numbers of winter finches can occur. The last Ohio record of Pine Grosbeak came from the Oak Openings, in winter 2007-08. The total species list for the loop is about 300, and three of those – Atlantic Puffin (only Ohio record), Black-billed Magpie, and Mountain Bluebird – have been found only in this region.

Natural Features

The Oak Openings is legendary for the diversity of rare plants that occur here. The highly specialized habitats that comprise this ecosystem support more species of state-listed rare plants than any other region of Ohio. A great diversity of animals lives in these plant communities. Spotted turtles, blue racers, and blue-spotted salamanders are just a few of the unusual animals that can be found. The poster child for rare Oak Openings animals is the tiny Karner blue butterfly, a federally endangered species. It depends in part on rare wild lupine plants that flourish in the Oak Openings savannas.

Oak Openings Preserve Metropark
4139 Girdham Road, Swanton, OH 43558
Phone: (419) 826-6463


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