Whether you’re an expert birder or simply enjoy seeing wildlife of all sorts, Mill Creek MetroParks offers great opportunities to view wildlife – everything from butterflies to bald eagles! You’ll find a variety of birds and wildlife throughout all of our facilities, but here are just a few highlights:
Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary
See waterfowl, shorebirds, herons, and egrets foraging in the ponds, songbirds in the trees, and bald eagles nesting in the distance. Keep on the look-out for a white-tail deer or a muskrat while you’re there, too.
With more than 200 documented bird species observed here, it’s a natural place to visit for wildlife viewing. Access to the Wildlife Sanctuary is restricted; however an observation tower is located just off the parking lot which offers visitors amazing views without disturbing the wildlife there. Bring your binoculars or spotting scope for an even better experience!
Newport Wetlands (Mill Creek Park)
This area at the southern end of Lake Newport provides an opportunity for visitors to get out in the wetland via the Albert E. Davies Wetland Trail and boardwalk. Here you’ll see various waterfowl and songbirds, as well as herons and maybe even a bald eagle or osprey. Watch for muskrat or beaver swimming in the waters around Smythe Island. In 2013 a bioswale was installed adjacent to the parking lot and planted with native plants – during the growing season these will attract all sorts of pollinators including bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and others.
Mill Creek Preserve
Our 44-acre wetland restoration area provides a variety of wetland habitats that attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife throughout the seasons. If you’re a fan of dragonflies and damselflies, make sure you visit these trails in the summer months! You might find a giant crayfish crawling across the trail in front of you, too!
Mill Creek Golf Course
Along with bluebirds, you’ll find red-headed woodpeckers residing in the large oaks and wooded areas at the golf course.
Vickers Nature Preserve
In addition to ducks and herons, river otters have been spotted in the pond here.
McGuffey Wildlife Preserve
Several bird nest boxes placed adjacent to the trails attract eastern bluebirds and tree swallows. The fields are home to a wide variety of songbirds, and even wild turkeys. The southern half of the Preserve consists of forested upland and wetland habitats, providing opportunities to view red-bellied woodpeckers, northern flickers, barred owls, and red-shouldered hawks. Look for the tracks of white-tailed deer and coyote on the trails.
Take a walk (or ride your bike) along the spur trail from the parking lot to the MetroParks Bikeway, where you’ll pass our renovated pond as well as our stream and wetland restoration project. The pond buzzes with dragonfly and damselfly activity while tree swallows and barn swallows fly low over the water to grab a drink. Look for bluebirds, American goldfinches, and Northern mockingbirds as you walk the trail. Hike the Mindy Henning Memorial Nature Trail for even more viewing opportunities through farm fields, forest, and wetland habitats.
Wildlife Sanctuary Observation Platform
Thanks to generous donations from Audubon Society/Mahoning Valley, Wild Birds Unlimited, and MetroParks volunteer Nancy Brundage, an elevated observation platform was constructed at the Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary in October 2013. The observation platform allows visitors to freely view the ponds without disturbing the birds and other wildlife there. The deck elevation combined with the natural topography of the site puts observers approximately 50 feet above the ponds, offering elevated views of the property. The Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is a former fish farm, with over 130 acres of constructed ponds which are managed to provide quality wetland habitats which attract a variety of wildlife, particularly migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. To date almost 230 bird species have been documented here, including many that are listed as threatened or endangered.
The observation platform also provides views of an active bald eagle nest, which has successfully fledged young for the past several years. Access to the observation platform is provided from the adjacent parking area, however please note that visitors are not permitted to access any other parts of the property. As always, access to the Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is restricted due to the sensitive habitats and wildlife.