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Magee Marsh welcomes visitors for spring bird migration

Online registration to access the boardwalk opens April 17
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 10:15 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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OAK HARBOR, Ohio (WTVG) - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife is partnering with the Toledo Zoo to allow visitors access to parts of Magee Marsh in Oak Harbor during the May spring bird migration.

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.

Those wishing to register for a permit to enter the boardwalk during spring migration can visit toledozoo.org to register, beginning April 17. 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 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.
  • 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.

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

The Magee Marsh Walking Trail, located just behind the Sportsman’s Migratory Bird Center, is fully accessible. ODNR says the Crane Creek Estuary Trail and Magee Beach Trail are particularly suited to view warblers and many other species.

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