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Birding in Northwest Ohio

Northwest Ohio is coined the Warbler Capital of the World for good reason!

Each year, thousands of warblers and songbirds flock to the northwest shores of Lake Erie to refuel before traveling over the Great Lakes!

Learn more about Northwest Ohio’s spring migration phenomenon that draws more than 90,000 visitors to our region each year in this related content:

Northwest Ohio: The Warbler Capital of the World

Birding during the Biggest Week


The Great Lake Erie Birding Trail

Begin your excursion by visiting some of these select birding hotspots below in Lake Erie’s parks and wildlife areas throughout northwest Ohio, southeastern Michigan and even Canada! Pick your favorites and make it your very own birding adventure.

Belle Isle Conservancy – Belle Isle Park

99 Pleasure Dr, 
Detroit, MI

Excellent alternative to world-famous Point Pelee and by far the best birding site within the city limits of Detroit. Great for waterfowl in late fall, winter and early spring. Good for songbirds and raptors in all seasons. Access the island by bridge off East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit.

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Black Swamp Bird Observatory

13551 W State Route 2, Oak Harbor, OH

Located at the entrance to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, BSBO features a visitors’ center with free birding maps, a gift shop, walking trail, restrooms, and window on wildlife. BSBO organizes The Biggest Week in American Birding ( 

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Cullen Park

4526 N Summit St, Toledo, OH

A mile-long causeway trail begins at the northeast corner of the park. Birders will find shorebirds on both sides of the trail, as well as warblers and other perching birds in the trees along the path.

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East Harbor State Park

1169 N Buck Rd, Marblehead, OH

The park’s campground and beach are popular in summer, but the area is outstanding for birding all year, with marshes, woods, and big concentrations of migrant songbirds in season.

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Erie Marsh Nature Preserve

3200 Sterns Rd, Erie, MI

Located on North Maumee Bay, Erie Marsh Preserve supports numerous animals and plants that would otherwise be hard-pressed to find suitable habitat. This sprawling preserve plays a huge role as a migratory and nesting area for shorebirds, waterfowl, land birds and, in the fall, raptors. Public access to the preserve is closed during waterfowl hunting season, 9/1-12/31.

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Hillman Marsh Conservation Area

1826 Mersea Road C, Leamington ON

A birding trail borders 87 acres of unique Shorebird Habitat where water levels are actively managed to create mudflats, providing outstanding viewing opportunities. The area is a great place for hiking, biking, picnicking, canoeing & kayaking, bird watching, fishing, swimming, and in the winter months, skiing. 

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Howard Marsh Metropark

611 S Howard Rd, Curtice, OH

A birding hotspot, particularly known for waterfowl and shorebirds. Over 230 species – more than half the known species ever recorded in Ohio – have been documented and include many rare and unexpected visitors during migration. Trumpeter swans, a variety of ducks, osprey and an array of songbirds are typical sights, and more.

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Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve
9911 W Bancroft St, Holland, OH
Featuring 187 acres of wet meadow and woodland with a boardwalk and a viewing platform overlooking the surrounding wetlands and woods. The wetlands provide many opportunities to spot hard to find birds.

Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary

332 Road 3 West, Kingsville ON

Founded in 1904 for the conservation of migrating Canadian geese and wild ducks. The grounds and trails are open year round from sunrise to sunset.

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Kelleys Island State Park

920 Division Street, Kelleys Island, OH

The North Pond offers excellent birding, with hundreds of species of migrating songbirds, and dozens of waterfowl species resting here before winging across the lake. There are nesting pairs of bald eagles in the area.

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Kitty Todd Nature Preserve

10420 Old State Line Rd, Swanton, OH

Kitty Todd protects more than 900 acres. A primary habitat is oak savanna, which is maintained by controlled burning. Breeding bird diversity is great, and includes red-headed woodpecker, summer tanager, and lark sparrow.

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 Holiday Beach

6952 County Rd 50 W, HARROW ONTARIO N0R 1G0

Holiday Beach offers a long sandy beach on the Lake Erie shoreline, plus many other amenities. It is ideal for a day at the beach, a beautiful picnic, or a birding getaway. 

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Lake Erie Metropark

32481 W Jefferson Ave, Brownstown Township, MI

Good for waterfowl, herons and gulls. Check out the boat launch in the fall for hawk migration. Warblers and other songbirds can be spotted on the woodland trail opposite the nature center. Bald eagles and long-eared owls are specialties.

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Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve

309 Alexander Pike, Marblehead, OH

This state nature preserve is home to Ohio’s rarest wildflower – the bright yellow Lakeside daisy. Great birding year-round including spring migration of warblers, songbirds and water birds.

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

13531 W Sr 2, Oak Harbor, OH

Magee Marsh is a prime stopover for North American warblers during spring migration. The boardwalk is famous for one of the best places in the world to see warblers close up in May, but the whole area is excellent for birding year-round.

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Mallard Club State Wildlife Area

Area can be reached from State Route 2 Curtice, OH 43412

Trails lead out into the marsh, that is a good habitat for bitterns and rails in the warmer months and many water birds all year.

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Maumee Bay State Park

1400 State Park Rd, Oregon, OH

Good birding all year, with gulls and waterfowl at the beach, wintering raptors in open fields, and migrant songbirds along the boardwalk and through the forest. Major features of the state park include a lodge, cottages, camping facilities, a nature center, and a two-mile-long interpretive boardwalk. 

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Maumee River Rapids

24287 Front St, Grand Rapids, OH

The Maumee confluences with Lake Erie at Toledo, and because of the river’s size, many birds use it to rest and refuel, including a number of species not normally found away from Lake Erie.

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Maumee State Forest

3390 County Road D, Swanton, OH

Some of the best habitat for forest breeding birds in northwest Ohio is found in Maumee State Forest. Nesting warblers include black-and-white, chestnut-sided, hooded, Kentucky, mourning, and pine warblers.

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Meadowbrook Marsh

8577 E Bayshore Rd, Marblehead, OH

Meadowbrook has a vast array of migratory birds and waterfowl and is much less crowded with birders than the popular trails at Magee Marsh.

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Metzger Marsh Wildlife Area

12235 Bono Rd, 13 miles East of Toledo, off of State Route 2, Curtice, OH

The marsh is outstanding for waterfowl in migration and for nesting marsh birds in summer, while the woodlot at the end of the road is excellent for migrating songbirds.

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Middle Bass Island State Park

1719 Fox Rd, Middle Bass, OH

Habitats include a small wetland, shrubby thickets, woods, and a small sand beach. The park is a great area in which to look for migrant songbirds. Rocky island shorelines can be good for resting shorebirds.

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North Pond State Nature Preserve

Ward Rd, Kelleys Island, OH

Lake Erie is famous for the tremendous numbers of waterfowl migrating through in the spring and fall. A birder visiting North Pond during these seasons will be rewarded by sightings of numerous species of ducks and other water birds. Located north side of Ward Road 1/2 mile east of Division Street.

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Oak Openings Preserve Metropark

4139 Girdham Rd, Swanton, OH

Oak Openings is a birder’s paradise. It is the nesting place of bluebirds, indigo buntings, whippoorwills and many other species, as well as an excellent location to see migrating songbirds in the spring.

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Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

14000 W State Route 2, Oak Harbor, OH

Walking trails give access to woods, marsh, and mudflats, providing excellent birding all year. Trails are open year round. Seasonal trails are open from April 1 - September 15. The visitors’ center has fine educational displays.

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Pearson Metropark

761 Lallendorf Rd, Oregon, OH

Pearson is one of the last remaining stands of the Great Black Swamp, a notorious forest that once blanketed much of Northwest Ohio. The thick woods and location close to Lake Erie make Pearson a favorite stopover for a wide variety of migrating birds.

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Point Pelee National Park

1118 Point Pelee Dr, Leamington ON

Situated at the southern extreme of mainland Canada, Point Pelee National Park is a tiny sanctuary supporting a mosaic of habitats from jungle-like forest to lush wetlands to open savannahs.

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Pelee Island

1045 West Shore Rd, Pelee Island, ON N0R 1M02

From historical sites to shops, nature walks for birding, and night life, Pelee Island provides visitors with a myriad of opportunities.

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Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve

State Route 357, Put-In-Bay, OH

Nine-acre preserve with lakefront on three sides offers opportunities for spotting waterfowl, shorebirds, and migratory songbirds.

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Scheele Preserve

Monaghan Rd, Kelleys Island, OH

Scheele Preserve touches 490 feet of Lake Erie's shore. The preserve provides habitat for fox snakes, butterflies and a variety of migratory songbirds and owls.

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Ojibway Park

5200 Matchette Rd, Windsor On N9c 4e8

Tranquil and wild, this retreat on Little Vermilion Lake offers a sandy beach, good swimming, and great birding.

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Secor Metropark

10001 Central Ave, Berkey, OH

A highlight of the forest-dependent species that nest here is cerulean warbler; a few pairs breed in the park. More common nesters include red-headed woodpecker, yellow-throated vireo, veery and wood thrush, and American redstart, ovenbird, and hooded warbler. 

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South Bass Island State Park

1523 Catawba Ave, Put-In-Bay, OH

As with the nearby islands, birding can be fabulous on South Bass Island, especially during migration when the trees can be full of songbirds. Tourist traffic is also lighter in early to mid-May and September, when migrant numbers and diversity peak.

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Sterling State Park

2800 State Park Rd, Monroe, MI

Many songbird species can be sighted in the mixture of marsh and woodland habitat. Be sure to walk the excellent Marshview Nature Trail to see as many as 20 different warbler species during spring migration. Do not forget to check the nearby lagoons for shorebirds.

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Toledo Botanical Gardens

5403 Elmer Dr, Toledo, OH

Featuring 50 acres of native plants and watering holes make this the perfect habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. With spring migration, warblers are a common sighting.

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Toussaint Creek
Toussaint Creek, OH

This 225-acre state wildlife area located 5 miles north of Oak Harbor and is great for spotting water birds all year, especially during spring migration. Eagle sightings common year-round.

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Wildwood Preserve Metropark

5100 W Central Ave, Toledo, OH

The prairie community at Wildwood is home to a variety of migrating birds. In the spring, it is a breeding site for ground-nesting birds such as eastern towhees, field sparrows, and American woodcock.

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Woodlawn Cemetary & Arboretum

1502 W Central Ave, Toledo, OH

With its winding paths, gentle hills, serene lakes and towering trees, historic Woodlawn Cemetery & Arboretum is a perfect place for birders. Nearly 300 spectacular species of trees and over 200 migratory and stationary birds nest here.

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Biggest Week In American Birding