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Resthaven State Wildlife Area

Resthaven State Wildlife Area (Sandusky Bay Loop)

This 2,272-acre wildlife area harbors the best remaining tracts of the historically vast Castalia Prairie. A botanical spectacle occurs in mid-May, when thousands of endangered white Lady's-slipper orchids bloom en masse. Shrubland breeding birds are always interesting, and include Yellow-breasted Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Willow Flycatcher, and many others.

Key Species by Season

Spring

  • Tree Swallow
  • Wood Duck
  • Rusty Blackbird

Summer

  • American Woodcock
  • White-Eyed Vireo
  • Great Crested Flycatcher

Fall

  • Bank Swallow
  • Barn Swallow
  • Olive-Sided Flycatcher

Winter

  • Eastern Towhee
  • American Tree Sparrow
  • Carolina Wren

At-a-Glance

51 - Resthaven State Wildlife Area
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife
Northwest Road off of U.S. Route 6
Castalia, OH

Public Access
Open all day year-round

Amenities
Hiking Trails, Handicap Accessible Trails

Driving Directions
From State Route 2, take the State Route 269 South exit. In about 2 miles, take a right onto U.S. Route 6. In about a mile, turn left at Northwest Road. Resthaven Wildlife Area will be on the left.

What to Look For

This 2,272-acre wildlife area harbors the best remaining tracts of the historically vast Castalia Prairie. A botanical spectacle occurs in mid-May, when thousands of endangered white Lady's-slipper orchids bloom en masse. Shrubland breeding birds are always interesting, and include Yellow-breasted Chat, White-eyed Vireo, Willow Flycatcher, and many others. On occasion, Bell's Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, and Alder Flycatcher turn up. Ospreys nest locally, as so Bald Eagles.

Thickets and woodlands can produce scores of migrants spring and fall, and enormous numbers of American Woodcock can be heard displaying at dusk in spring. With 444 acres of water, ducks and geese can be plentiful in migration. Huge numbers of swallows often stage here in late summer/early autumn.

Natural Features

Resthaven contains an excellent prairie remnant and is filled with interesting prairie plants, including a number of rare species. The area harbors one of only two Ohio sites for the endangered white lady's-slipper orchid (Cypripedium candidum), which appears by the thousands in a good year.

Local Resources

Lake Erie Shores & Islands  
Ohio Division of Wildlife  
Ohio Ornithological Society  

About the Sandusky Bay Loop

The massive Sandusky Bay is the most conspicuous bay on Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline. State Route 2 passes over the bay via a bridge that is over 2.5 miles in length, and is crossed by many of the nearly 7 million visitors each year. This region of Lake Erie is renowned for its marshes and the tremendous numbers of waterfowl that occur in migration. Historically, vast wet prairies occurred, remnants of which still exist.

The most prominent bridge along Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline is the State Route 2 span over massive Sandusky Bay. Historically, the bay was ringed with mixed-emergent marshes and prairie wetlands, most of which have been destroyed. However, large marshlands are still protected and provide some of the most important bird habitat along Lake Erie. Sandusky Bay and vicinity is a very important stopover area for migratory waterfowl. The total species list for this loop is 313, and three of them – Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Ancient Murrelet – have only been found in this region.

What To Look For

The massive Sandusky Bay is the most conspicuous bay on Ohio's Lake Erie shoreline. State Route 2 passes over the bay via a bridge that is over 2.5 miles in length, and is crossed by many of the nearly 7 million visitors that come to the Sandusky Bay region each year. This region of Lake Erie is renowned for its marshes and the tremendous numbers of waterfowl that occur in migration. Historically, vast wet prairies occurred, especially along the southern reaches of Sandusky Bay. While most of these prairies have been lost, remnants still exist, such as Resthaven Wildlife Area.

Noteworthy Rarities

The total species list for this loop is 313, and three of them—Blackbellied Whistling-Duck, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Ancient Murrelet— have only been found in this region. Many other rare birds have been seen here, including Eurasian Wigeon, Tricolored Heron, Western Tanager, and White-faced Ibis.

Natural Features

The largest remaining marshes in Ohio buffer the western end of Lake Erie. In addition to supporting tremendous numbers and diversity of birds, these wetlands also harbor many other animals and an impressive diversity of plants. Species of plants that are now threatened or endangered, such as wild rice and bullhead-lily, can still be found. Two interesting reptiles that can be found are the Blanding’s turtle and Eastern fox snake, both of which are largely confined to the western Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio. Large numbers of dragonflies of many species live in the marshes, and occasionally rare migrant dragonflies are found, such as the striped saddlebags.

Resthaven State Wildlife Area
Northwest Road off of U.S. Route 6, Castalia, OH


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