The Birds

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is the best place in Ohio to witness the spring migration of neotropical birds. Visitors come for the orioles, thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, and raptors, but the warblers really attract the attention!


Birders

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler

There are about 37 species of warblers that usually make an appearance here. Due to their reluctance to cross Lake Erie, the birds pile in on the forested beach ridges in large numbers and provide spectacular bird watching opportunities.

Magee Marsh covers about 2000 acres and provides critical stopover habitat for migrating birds. It's like a giant rest stop where they can rest and re-fuel before continuing on their journey! Most of the over 300 species of birds sighted at Magee Marsh are just passing through! Some warblers do nest at Magee but most are going farther north to raise their families.

Spring Migration Bird Watching

Anytime from mid April through May is good, but typically the peak migration occurs during the first two weeks of May. This is when you are most likely to see the greatest numbers and species of birds.

International Migratory Bird Day is celebrated the Saturday before Mother's Day and attracts thousands of birders to Magee each year. Birders and photographers from across the United States and the world come here to experience the magic of spring migration.

Kirtlands warbler
Kirtland's warbler

Weather

As the leaves come out it is more of a challenge to view the warblers. The key to spectacular bird watching is weather! When low pressure cells build up in Arkansas and we have good southwest winds with a sharp increase in temperature as a front moves in, one is most likely to witness the heaviest migration.


Important Bird Area

Magee marsh is one of only four remaining beach ridges along the southern shore of Lake Erie. It is unique because it provides all of the components vital to a marsh system -

  • beach ridge
  • deep and shallow water
  • open marsh
  • sedge meadow
  • blue joint stands

It is also one of the few remaining remnants of the Great Black Swamp.

bird watching
Watching warblers

Migratory Bird Center

The Sportsmen's Migratory Bird Center is where you can pick up a bird checklist, get a map, purchase a field guide, or find out what birds are been seen. A habitat display area features many of the birds that you are likely to see while at Magee Marsh.

Hours of Operation

The Bird Center is open year round Monday - Friday from 8 am to 5 pm. From March through November, the Bird Center is also open on weekends from 11 am to 5 pm, with extended hours on Saturdays in April and May.

Trails

The Wildlife Area is open during daylight hours. There are five trails that are open to the public at Magee Marsh. Behind the Bird Center are two loop trails that visitors can explore. Known as the Magee Marsh Walking Trails each is a half mile loop that begin and end at the 42 foot observation tower.

Herring Gull
Herring gull

In 2003, a connecting trail between Magee Marsh and adjacent Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge opened to the public.

The Magee Marsh Beach trail is about a half mile stretch of beach that is open for wildlife viewing only - no swimming please.

Although all of the trails offer the chance to see the birds, it is the Magee Marsh Bird Trail, or Boardwalk, that is the most popular. The Boardwalk takes you through a seven acre wood lot and when conditions are right it can literally be "raining warblers"!