The IBA extends from the confluence with the Big Darby in Circleville south to the Ohio River west of Portsmouth. This river corridor is a major North-South migration landmark. The IBA includes river corridor and riverine habitats, with some large tracts of mature forest. Large tracts of bottomland forest, extremely rare in Ohio, provide unique breeding habitat and important migrant stops. The lower portion of the Scioto River remains ice-free open water throughout most winters, providing Ohio wintering areas for numerous waterfowl and eagles. The Scioto is a remnant of the ancient Teays River and flows southward as a result of early Pleistocene glacial deposits, which resulted in the reversal of direction of the river.
The Scioto River is an important north-south migratory path north from the Ohio River. Near the confluence with the Ohio River, it provides an important wintering area for waterfowl due to open water during winter. Bald Eagles winter along the river in high numbers. In fall, large numbers of Cliff Swallows stage in Pickaway County. Throughout fall and spring, there are important flights of migratory landbirds. Bald Eagles breed. The area hosted one of two confirmed Bewick's Wren breeding sites in the first Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas (Hay's Hollow, 1987, T. Bartlett).
Lack of protection opens up remaining large bottomland timber stands to logging. Hunting pressure needs to be analyzed in relation to the wintering waterfowl, including consideration of limits on the number of hunters and restrictions on motorized boats.