COLUMBUS, Ohio – With the help and support of the Toledo Zoo, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife is providing access to the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area boardwalk for select dates during the spring bird migration in May. Online registration for this opportunity opens Saturday, April 17, 2021, at 10 a.m.
To promote safety and social distancing, the Magee Marsh boardwalk is closed from Saturday, April 17, to Monday, May 31, except to those who hold a permit. Permits to access the boardwalk are available Friday through Monday, from April 30 to May 17. Birding times will begin each hour from 8 a.m. to noon and last two hours. Times will be filled through online registration on a first come, first served basis. Guests are asked to sign up for only one date and time slot throughout the duration of this time period.
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. The Crane Creek Estuary Trail and Magee Beach Trail are particularly suited to view warblers and many other species. The Magee Marsh Walking Trail, located just behind the Sportsman’s Migratory Bird Center, is fully accessible and perfect for those visitors looking for a shorter walk.
The new Goosehaven Trail and a section of the lakefront levee will be open from 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 at wildohio.gov. In addition, the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center will be open on a limited basis during the spring birding season.
Those wishing to register for a permit to enter the boardwalk during spring migration can visit toledozoo.org. Additional details about special birding opportunities at Magee Marsh can be found at wildohio.gov.
Successful registrants must present an email confirmation receipt at the boardwalk entrance, which can be printed or displayed on a mobile device. For social distancing purposes, the boardwalk is one way beginning in the west end, and guests are required to travel the entire length.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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. More information can be found at wildohio.gov.
The mission of the Division of Wildlife is to conserve and improve fish and wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainable use and appreciation by all. Visit wildohio.gov to find out more.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.