Birds to See in Cuyahoga Valley National Park (with sounds)

Use this guide to see and identify birds in Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Species are arranged in descending order from the largest #1 to the smallest #40.

The list is further divided into four color-coded size groups using as reference the size of familiar birds such as an eagle, a duck, a pigeon, and a sparrow.

Scroll down the list or jump to one of the size groups.

You can use your cell phone to identify the birds you see.

First, click on the group-size button below to jump to the size group the bird you see may belong to. Use the link “back to top” to return and refine your search.

 

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The Cuyahoga Valley National Park runs along the Cuyahoga River. The park includes the floodplain of the river itself for approximately 22 miles with a varying width that does not exceed 5 miles.

Where can I find Bird in Cuyahoga Valley National Park?

Most of the park is composed of a rather productive riparian habitat flanked by deciduous woodlands at both sides of the river valley.

The Ohio Ornithological Society lists the three best birding areas in the park:

The Ritchie Ledges trail at Happy Days Visitor Center.

  • North and south on the railroad tracks at Station Road parking lot. Although there is room on both sides of the tracks, the railroad is in use, and caution should be taken when birding there.
  • The boardwalk at Ira Road.
  • Birding is also productive along Oak Hill Road and Wetmore Road bridle trails.

Birders indicate that good spots for rare birds include the Deep Lock Quarry and Brecksville Reservation.

The park is dotted with many ponds and wetlands. The Horseshoe Pond is a popular birding spot that attracts waterfowl.

The well-maintained canal towpath is another popular birding trail. The towpath has several access and exit points and can be explored by sections that require different time and effort to cover.

Why these 40 Species?

These are the 40 birds you are most likely to see during a visit to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. They are the most frequently reported by bird enthusiasts visiting the park.

The 40  birds listed here are not difficult to find and observe as they are generally large, fairly common, or rather vocal.

When it comes to the ease of seeing them, these are birds that favor mostly open or semi-open habitats where they can be readily spotted or heard calling.

BIRDS ABOUT THE SIZE OF AN EAGLE

1. Bald Eagle

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The adult Bald Eagle is unmistakable. The juvenile is dark brown and goes through several plumage stages before acquiring the majestic plumage of the adult. It favors lakes, ponds, lagoons, and estuaries.

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2. Great Blue Heron

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Tall and large with gray plumage. It has long legs and a large and strong orange bill. It also has a black cap that often projects onto a crest. Both sexes look alike. Seen alone at the edges of ponds and wetlands where they search for fish and any other small vertebrate.

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3. Great Egret

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Tall, slender with a pure-white plumage. The bill is thick and bright yellow. It has a pale eye. The neck is very long. The legs are dusky. The Great Egret is the largest of all white herons and egrets (except for the white morph of the Great Blue Heron). Generally seen at the edges of ponds and wetlands but it can also be found away from them.

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4. Red-tailed Hawk

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Adult birds have a red-orange tail. Juvenile birds are paler overall and do not have the red-orange tail. The Red-tailed Hawk has a variety of different plumages that can be confusing. It is one of the most common hawks and can often be seen perched atop telephone poles and bare branches.

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BIRDS ABOUT THE SIZE OF A DUCK

5. Mallards

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The male has a glossy green head and a yellow bill. The breast is chestnut with a grayish-brown body. The female is patterned with brown and black spots and streaks. Both sexes have orange legs. Common in ponds and other wetlands. In Florida, it breeds with domestic mallards and Mottled Ducks producing intermediates plumages.

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6. Wood Duck

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The male Wood Duck has an ornate plumage. The female is brown with a distinctive eye-ring. The Wood Duck nests in natural cavities and also in nesting boxes placed near water. It is smaller than a Mallard and favors ponds, wetlands, and flooded woods.

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7. American Coot

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Blackish with white under the tail. The bill is white with a red spot on the upper forehead and a black ring on the tip of the bill. The legs are green with long toes. It feeds on floating and submerged vegetation, usually in flocks. It favors mostly freshwater, but can also be found in brackish water.

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8. Hooded Merganser

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The male has an unmistakable black and white hood. The breast is white with black stripes. The female is brown with a bushy crest. Both sexes have orange eyes and thin bill. It dives underwater for fish and invertebrates. Generally in pairs or small flocks in ponds and lakes.

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9. Pied Billed Grebe

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Dusky brown with a compact and roundish shape. The bill is light bluish with a conspicuous black ring in the middle. Juvenile birds have a head patterned with black and white. Usually seen alone or in pairs in ponds where it dives for fish and invertebrates.

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BIRDS ABOUT THE SIZE OF A PIGEON

10. Green Heron

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Bluish-gray back and wings with a black cap and chestnut neck and breast. The bill is dusky. The legs are orange. Juvenile birds are brown with dusky streaks and greenish legs. A shy heron that forages for fish in reeds and cattail. Always associated with water.

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11. American Crow

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All black, including bill and legs. Thick neck. In-flight, it shows long wings with rounded tips. Often found in flocks. It favors open and semi-open habitats and seldom enters woodlands.

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12. Piliated Woodpecker

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A large, mostly black woodpecker with a patterned black and white neck and head. It has a conspicuous red top of the head and crest. It shows white underwings during its undulating flight. Normally seen perched vertically on trunks and branches. It favors hardwood forests. It can also be found in urban areas that have plenty of trees. It makes loud and distinctive drumming sounds.

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13. Belted Kingfisher

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The male is bluish-gray and white. The female is similar but has rusty on the belly. Both sexes have a strong bill and shaggy crest. Normally seen alone. Dive-plunges head-first from bare branches at the edge of ponds, lakes, and estuaries. Kingfishers produce a characteristic rattling noise mostly during flight.

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14. Mourning Dove

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Brown with black spots. The breast and belly are beige. The legs and feet are red. This small and chunky dove is widespread and uses a variety of different habitats, including urban areas. It does not enter continuous forests. Generally seen in pairs or small flocks.

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15. Killdeer

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Brownback with a black and white breast and forehead. The belly is pure white. Both sexes look alike. While generally associated with wetlands, the Killdeer is also found in open pastures and even in football and baseball fields in urban areas. It is rather vocal when it takes off.

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BIRDS ABOUT THE SIZE OF A SPARROW

16. Northern Flicker

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Warm-brown with black barring above and large black dots on the underparts. It has a distinctive black crescent on the breast. It is frequently seen foraging on the ground. It is smaller than a pigeon and favors forest edges and open woodlands. Both sexes are similar in size and appearance except for a red mustache in the male.

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17. Common Grackle

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It looks black from a distance. At close range, it has a glossy dark-greenish body with a black-blue head. It has a pale-yellow eye that contrasts with its dark head. It is often found in flocks. It favors open habitats, including fields and urban areas. The female has a duller plumage.

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18. Blue Jay

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Blue and white back and head with black markings. The breast and belly are whitish. It has a prominent crest. It is one of the most familiar American birds. Usually seen in pairs or noisy family flocks of 3 to 5 individuals. Males and females look alike. It favors semi-open woodlands and urban areas.

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19. American Robin

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Bluish-gray back and rich brown breast and belly. The head is blackish with an orange bill. Both sexes look alike.  Juvenile birds have black spots on the breast. Seen alone or in flocks, particularly during the non-breeding season. It is one of the most familiar North American birds.

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20. Red-bellied Woodpecker

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Black and white barring on the back with light grayish-beige sides of the head, breast, and belly. The top of the head and nape are red in the male. The female has red only on the nape. It is the most common woodpecker in North America. Found in a variety of semi-open habitats, including urban parks and backyards.

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21. Red-headed Woodpecker

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A beautiful woodpecker with a bright redhead. The back is bicolored dark blue and white. The breast and belly are pure white. It is often seen in pairs or family groups in lightly wooded areas with short vegetation or only grasses. It also uses sub-urban habitats. It flashes black and white during flight.

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22. Red-winged Blackbird

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The male is black with bright red shoulder patches. The female is brown with blackish spots and streaks. Both sexes have a conical and pointy bill. It breeds in wetlands. It is slightly larger than a sparrow and favors open areas. It often forms large flocks during the non-breeding season.

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23. Eastern Kingbird

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Gray back and top of the head. The throat breast and belly are white. It has a conspicuous white terminal band on the tip of the tail. Both sexes look alike. It favors open country or sparsely vegetated habitats where it is often seen perched on top of poles or top of short trees.

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24. Brown-headed Cowbird

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The male is glossy black with a brown head. The female is brown overall. Both sexes have a thick stubby bill. It favors open habitats where it is often seen in flocks in the company of other blackbirds. Unlike other birds, it walks on the ground rather than hopping.

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25. Baltimore Oriole

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The male has a striking black and orange plumage. The breast and belly are pure oranges in color. The tail is yellow and black. The female is overall dull orange with a blackish back. Both sexes have a sharp grayish-blue conical bill. It favors deciduous forest and semi-open woodlands.

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26. Northern Cardinal

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The Northern Cardinal is perhaps one of the most familiar North American birds. Males are bright red and females are a warm brown. They can be found in woodlands and urban habitats. It is about the size of a sparrow and favors semi-open habitats.

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27. Gray Catbird

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The aptly named Gray Catbirds is all gray with a solid black cap. Both sexes look alike. It favors thick understory and vine tangles where it searches for berries. It produces cells that resemble those of a cat, hence the name.

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28. Cedar Waxwing

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Warm brown overall with a yellowish belly. It has a yellow terminal tail band and waxy red tips on the secondary flight feathers, hence its name. It shows a black mask and a bushy crest. It forms fast-flying flocks during the non-breeding season.

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29. Yellow-throated Vireo

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Yellow olive sides and top of the head. It has bright yellow throat and spectacles. The wings are bluish-gray with two white wing bars. The lower belly is white. Both sexes look alike. It favors woodlands where it is often found in pairs along with mixed-species flocks.

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30. Downy Woodpecker

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Patterned black and white back and head. The breast and belly are pure white.  The male and female are similar except for a red spot on the nape of the male. Generally seen alone or in pairs in semi-open habitats, including urban areas.

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31. Eastern Bluebird

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The males have a bright blue back and top of the head with orange breast and sides of the belly. The female is a very dull version of the male with little to no blue on the back. It favors open fields such as pastures and savanna habitats, where it often perches on utility wires and poles.

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32. Tufted Titmouse

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It has a gray back, tail, and top of the head. It has a characteristic crest or tuft. The sides of the face, throat, and belly are pale. It has reddish-brown flanks. It has a black short and stubby bill. Both sexes look alike. It favors woodlands where it is found in pairs along with mixed-species flocks.

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33. Indigo Bunting

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Breeding males are striking blue with a bluish-gray bill. The female is overall brown. Non-breeding males are brown blotched with blue. They are found alone in hedgerows, and thick understory at the edges of woodlands.

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34. Cerulean Warbler

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The male has a blue back with dusky streaks. The throat and belly are white separated by a blue-collar. The female has an aqua-green back and cap and a broad pale eyebrow. It favors the canopy of mature deciduous forests. Both sexes have a relatively short tail.

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35. American Goldfinch

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The male is bright yellow with a black forehead in spring and summer. The female is brown. Both sexes turn brown and look more alike during the winter. It is smaller than a sparrow and favors forest edges, semi-open woodlands, and urban habitats.

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36. White-breasted Nuthatch

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Black cap and nape with bluish-gray back. The sides of the head, breast, and belly are white. Both sexes look alike. It is one of the few birds that creep on trunks and branches in all directions, often upside down. It favors deciduous forest and semi-open habitats, including urban areas.

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37. Carolina Wren

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It has a rich brown back barred with dusky towards the tail. The breast and belly are buffy-brown. It has a conspicuous white eyebrow. Both sexes look alike. It is a great singer that forages near the ground in a variety of habitat types, including urban environments.

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38. Yellow Warbler

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The male is bright yellow with reddish streaks on the breast and belly. The female is a duller yellow without the reddish streaks. Forages for insects in tall shrubs often near bodies of water, such as ponds and other wetlands.

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39. Black-capped Chickadee

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Black-capped Chickadee and throat with white cheeks.  Very small with a thick neck and large head. It has a short and stubby black bill. Both sexes look alike. They are more often found following mixed-species flocks. It is smaller than a sparrow and favors woodland areas.

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40. Ruby-throated Hummingbird

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The male has a greenish back and cap and a coppery-red iridescent throat. The belly is gray and greenish. The female is similar but lacks the iridescent red throat and has a pale belly. It is the only hummingbird that breeds in the Eastern United States and Canada.

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Next Read:

Birds of Acadia National Park

Wildlife of Acadia National Park (Mammals)

Wildlife of Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Mammals)

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References:

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Credits Sound Recordings.

Recordings
: Xeno Canto.

  • Andrew Spencer:  Common Loon, Ruffed Grouse, Song Sparrow, Blue-headed Vireo, American Redstart, Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet.
  • Paul Marvin, Bald Eagle, American Black Duck, Osprey, Wood Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Common Raven, Great Black-backed Gull, American Robin, White-throated Sparrow, Purple Finch, Cedar Waxwing, Downy Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch, Yellow-rumped Warbler.

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