OAK HARBOR – The famed birding boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area will re-open on Friday, April 15 after repairs were made following damage from a storm, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
That is good news for The Biggest Week in American Birding (www.biggestweekinamericanbirding.com), a 10-day festival in northwest Ohio on May 6-15, “The Warbler Capital of the World!” Bird watchers from around Ohio, the country and the world will invade to enjoy the annual spring songbird migration and experience some of the best birding North America has to offer.
The birding festival is hosted by the Black Swamp Bird Observatory (www.bsbo.org), which is based at the entrance to the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area is an extremely popular birding area along the shores of Lake Erie and its popular boardwalk was damaged after a strong storm struck last summer on Aug. 10. Wind speeds up to 70 mph knocked down numerous large trees along the beachfront parking lot and boardwalk.
Work has been done to remove the necessary trees and make repairs to the boardwalk, allowing it to re-open for the spring birding season. A small portion near the midpoint of the boardwalk will remain closed because of a new bald eagle nest.
Improvements to the boardwalk include updates to the two observation decks at the west end, and increased accessibility for those using a wheelchair or scooter. New this year, only monopods are allowed on the boardwalk from May 1-15. Tripods may be used as monopods during this time.
More updates to the boardwalk and Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center are coming soon. The Bird Center will close beginning May 16 until spring 2023 for renovations.
Magee Marsh is world-renowned as one of the best places to view spring migrating songbirds and offers many wonderful trails that are highly productive birding locations. Find more information about birding at Magee Marsh at wildohio.gov.
The southwest shore of Lake Erie has many additional prime birding locations that can be explored this spring. Here are just a few that shouldn’t be missed:
- Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area (Sandusky County): Most of the area is made up of restored wetlands that are frequented by large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds. The wooded areas hold eagles and other raptors, while several grassland species such as the eastern meadowlark and bobolink can be seen in the native prairies. An observation tower along U.S. Route 6 provides good views of the area’s wetlands.
- Maumee Bay State Park (Lucas County): The park contains a variety of habitats, including swamp forests, open meadows, and beach areas, and is a great place to view everything from wading birds to raptors and warblers. Guests should note that over 75 hazardous trees were recently removed, which will change the canopy cover of the boardwalk.
- Howard Marsh Metropark (Lucas County): Shallow marshes and mudflats in the park provide fantastic viewing of wading birds and waterfowl. Eagles and other raptors, as well as swans and sandhill cranes, are often seen flying over.
- Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area (Lucas County): The open water marsh is a prime spot to see swans and diving and dabbling ducks. A small woodlot at the northern end of the road can hold a spectacular array of migrating warblers and songbirds.
- Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (Ottawa County): Scattered woodlots provide viewing of migrating songbirds, and several owl species are frequently seen in the area. The monthly wildlife drive is open for additional dates in May. This drive allows visitors to traverse the expansive wetlands and is perfect for viewing waterfowl, shorebirds, and eagles.
- East Harbor State Park (Ottawa County): Hosting a variety of habitats, the park draws in a wide range of species including waterfowl, gulls and terns, and numerous songbirds. Wooded areas around the campground and the swamp forests along the lakefront are most productive for warblers.
Additional birding locations can be found by visiting the Lake Erie Birding Trail page at wildohio.gov.
Birders can support wildlife conservation by purchasing an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp. The 2022 stamp features a bald eagle and can be purchased through the Wild Ohio Store. Proceeds from the sale of the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp are used to support endangered and threatened native species, habitat restoration, land purchases, conservation easements, and educational products for students and wildlife enthusiasts. More information can be found at wildohio.gov.