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Special Birding Opportunity at Magee Marsh
Special Birding Opportunity at Magee Marsh

About Magee Marsh

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area 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. The Crane Creek Estuary Trail and Magee Beach Trail are particularly well suited to view warblers and many other species. The Magee Marsh Walking Trail, located just behind the Sportsman’s Migratory Bird Center, is perfect for those visitors looking for a shorter walk and is a fully accessible trail.

The new Goosehaven Trail and a section of the lakefront levee will be open April 17 to May 31. The Goosehaven Trail can be accessed via the Estuary Trail and near the east end entrance of the boardwalk. The entrance to the lakefront levee is located at the southeast end of the overflow parking lot. More information and a map of all the trails can be found on the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area page. In addition, the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center will be open on a limited basis during the spring birding season.

Magee Marsh Guidelines

  • Magee Marsh is a pack in, pack out facility.
  • Dogs are permitted on the area but must be kept on a leash that is 6ft or less (unless on the dog training grounds). Only service dogs are permitted on the boardwalk.
  • Wheelchairs, walkers, electric wheelchairs are permitted on the boardwalk.
  • Tripods are NOT permitted on the boardwalk during the 2021 permitted birding opportunities. There are no restrictions on other trails.
  • There is no overnight parking at Magee Marsh. The area closely nightly at sundown and reopens at sunrise.
  • Parking is only permitted in designated locations. Do not park along the roadway or in the grass.
  • Roads and parking lots become very busy during the spring. Drive slowly and patiently to ensure everyone has an enjoyable visit.

Additional information to help you enjoy your visit:

  • Portable restrooms are located near the west and east entrances of the boardwalk and near the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center. A small number of flush toilets are available in the Bird Center. All restrooms are cleaned daily.
  • Weather on the shores of Lake Erie can be unpredictable. Dress in layers and be aware of any approaching storms.
  • If you have obtained a permit to access the boardwalk, tread carefully as it can become very slippery when wet.
  • A list of the birds that are being seen in the area can be found on eBird.org (Explore Hotspots – Magee Marsh) and at the entrance of the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center.
  • Many wildlife species are active during the spring. Be on the lookout for turtles, snakes, and other animals crossing the roads and parking lots. Allow them to pass unharmed.

Birding Along Lake Erie

The southwest shore of Lake Erie has many prime birding locations that can be explored this spring. Here are just a few that shouldn’t be missed:

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge (Ottawa County): Scattered woodlots provide viewing of migrating songbirds, and several owl species are frequently seen on the area. The popular wildlife drive is open daily from April 30 to May 16 and allows visitors to traverse the expansive wetlands and is perfect for viewing waterfowl, shorebirds, and eagles. The ONWR visitor center will not be open during the spring birding season, however outdoor restrooms will be available.

  • How to get there: (2 minutes) Turn right onto State Route 2 and travel for approximately a half mile.

Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area (Ottawa 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.

  • How to get there: (10 minutes) Turn right onto State Route 2 and travel approximately 7 miles. Turn right onto Bono Road (just as you come out of the second big curve). Follow road along causeway to parking area.

Howard Marsh Metropark (Lucas County): Shallow marshes and mudflats in the park provide fantastic viewing of wading birds and waterfowl. Eagles and other raptors are often seen flying over, as well as swans and sandhill cranes.

  • How to get there: (10 minutes) Turn right onto State Route 2 and travel approximately 7 miles. Turn right onto Howard Road (just after the second large curve). Entrance to park is ahead on the right.

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. 

  • How to get there: (20 minutes) Turn right onto State Route 2 and travel approximately 11 miles; turn right onto N. Curtice Road (CR 202) and travel 3 miles; continue onto the Maumee Bay entrance road from the intersection of Curtice Road and Cedar Point Road.

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.

  • How to get there: (30 minutes) Turn left onto State Route 2 and travel approximately 22 miles. Take exit 125-B for OH-269 N toward Lakeside/Marblehead. Continue on 269 N then turn right onto OH-269 N/W SR 163 E (at the light). At the next light turn left onto OH-269 N (park entrance is ahead 1 mile on the right).

Note: Directions for each area are written as if driving out of the Magee Marsh entrance road, facing State Route 2.

Additional birding locations can be found by visiting the Lake Erie Birding Trail page.

Support Wildlife Conservation in Ohio

Birders can support wildlife conservation by purchasing an Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp. The 2021 stamp features a northern cardinal 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. 

Reservation Information

Successful registrants will be emailed a confirmation receipt with their date and time, which must be presented at the entrance of the boardwalk to be admitted. The receipt can be printed or displayed on a mobile device. The boardwalk will be posted as one way from the west end to the east and guests will be required to travel the entire length.

Now accepting online reservations on the Toledo Zoo's website!

Reserve a Magee Marsh Boardwalk Birding Permit