Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

Maumee Bay State Park


Last month, a fellow birder friend and I went up to Lake Erie for some spring migration birding and some sightseeing.  When you talk Lake Erie and birding, one place is very famous- Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, THE place to be in the eastern US for spring migration if you’re looking for warblers.  We stayed at nearby Maumee Bay State Park in one of their cabins (in reality, a small vacation home).  It turns out Maumee Bay had some nice places for birding as well.

Finally, on the way home, we stopped at East Harbor State Park for some additional birding, and some some tourist-y places- Marblehead Lighthouse and the Thomas A Edison Birthplace Museum.  We’ll look at those places next month.

We timed our visit during The Biggest Week in American Birding– the 2nd week of May during spring migration.  Northwest Ohio attracts tens of thousands of birders to such places as Magee Marsh, where it is easy to see colorful migrants gathering on the southern shore of Lake Erie before they make the big flight up into Canada for another summer nesting season.

We actually stopped at some other places as well, and we would have stopped at Perry’s Victory & International Peace Monument on Put-In-Bay Island (I’m a history buff too)  but it was closed for repairs all year.  So I’ll focus on the big places that I took plenty of pictures of.

Let’s get started!

As we neared Maumee Bay, we took this as a good sign- Bald Eagles sitting on telephone poles along the road!  They certainly have bounced back very well from near-extinction in the lower 48 states.

Driving around away from the freeways is my favorite mode of travel- you get to see backroads and small towns.

Maumee Bay State Park is a fantastic park.  Here’s some general pictures of the place.  The lodge was very crowded during the day with the Biggest Week In Birding vendors and exhibits.  Appropriately enough, there were a group of Cliff Swallows nesting up above the entrance, building their mud nests.  I blogged about Cliff Swallows building nests years ago.

Maumee Bay State Park

And now, on to the much-anticipated event- our visit to the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.  The weather was good, though the bird species counts were low due to a cold start to May.  Fortunately, migration picked up when we showed up.

Magee Marsh Boardwalk

During spring migration, large crowds of birders move through the boardwalk area at Magee.  This place is truly a Mecca for North American birders.  Overall, people were surprisingly helpful and tried not to clog up the walkways.  The parking lot is full of hundreds of cars from all over the continent.  There were even tailgaters in the lots!

Here’s some of the memorable birds we saw at Magee that day.

Nashville Warbler

Bay-Breasted Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Black & White Warbler

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Blue-Headed Vireo

Scarlet Tanager

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Bald Eagle nestling

 Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

The surrounding area of the boardwalk is marshy and contains shorebirds and waterfowl.  Here’s what we saw on our way out.

Canada Geese families were common- everyone let them cross the road on their own time

Great Egret

Snowy Egret


White-Crowned Sparrow

Nature Center & Gift Shop

Maumee Bay Beach

looks like a lighthouse and nuclear reactor coolant towers way out along Lake Erie

fish were on the menu

Great Blue Heron


Caspian Terns

Common Terns

Herring Gulls

Maumee Bay Boardwalk

A nice feature of Maumee Bay State Park is a 2-mile-long boardwalk through some marshy areas and a wooded swamp near Lake Erie.



3 White-Tailed Deer browsed the marshy area and were unafraid of people

A Fox Squirrel looking intently for something near the boardwalk

Catbird- quite a few were in the wooded swamp

Common Grackle

American Robin


Swainson’s Thrush

Screech Owl in nesting box

Downy Woodpecker

Red-Winged Blackbirds

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

Marsh Wrens were defending their territory, singing furiously in the tall marsh grass

Yellow Warbler

Common Yellowthroat- there were many of these hiding in the brush and protesting our visit

Northern Parula Warbler

Black-Throated Green Warbler

American Redstart

This concludes part 1 of our Lake Erie visit.  Part 2 will be along the first Saturday of July.  I hope you enjoyed the spring migration season as much as I did!