Bird Watching Guide to Northwest Ohio


Bird lovers from across the globe travel Northwest Ohio to witness the spectacular migration of avian species through Ohio’s rich habitats. The annual spring migration, from mid-February to mid-June, is excitedly anticipated by birdwatching aficionados and local businesses.

This area’s unique blend of ecosystems, including marshlands, forests and shoreline, make it a hotspot for bird diversity and temporary stopovers during migration.  The annual migration season gives residents the opportunity to witness this natural spectacle up close along with a chance to spot some rare and sought-after bird sightings. 

To celebrate the event, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory held the “Biggest Week in American Birding,” featuring activities tailored for novices and seasoned birders, including guided birding tours, workshops, lectures by ornithologists and family-friendly events as highlights of the week-long celebration. Local businesses and communities welcomed visitors, showcasing the natural beauty of Northwest Ohio.

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Whether you’re an experienced birder or simply curious about the natural phenomenon of migration, Northwest Ohio promises an enriching experience. So grab your binoculars and get ready to witness nature’s spectacular show at one of the world’s birding hotspots.

Among the popular avian migrants that draw enthusiasts and the curious to our area are:

Warblers: These small, colorful songbirds are the stars of the show during spring migration, with species like the Blackburnian Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler and Yellow Warbler making appearances in the region.

Sandhill Cranes: Towering and majestic, these large birds are a sight to behold as they migrate in V-shaped formations overhead, with their distinctive calls echoing across the wetlands.

Shorebirds: Northwest Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline provides crucial stopover habitat for a variety of shorebird species such as the Sanderling, Dunlin and Semipalmated Sandpiper as they journey to their northern breeding grounds.

Raptors: From Bald Eagles to Peregrine Falcons, the region offers opportunities to witness impressive displays of aerial prowess as these birds of prey soar overhead or hunt along the lakeshore.

Waterfowl: Lake Erie serves as a vital staging area for thousands of waterfowl during migration, including species like Tundra Swans, Canvasbacks and Red-breasted Mergansers.

Places in Northwest Ohio to go Birdwatching

For those birdwatchers who are new to the game or seasoned pros, check out all the local places you can birdwatch in the area.

Magee Marsh Wildlife Area

Distance from Toledo: 37 minutes

Jerusalem Township, OH 43412

Metzger Marsh is what’s remaining of a 300,000 acre marsh that ran along the edge of Lake Erie, from Vermilion  all the way up into Michigan. Early settlers created a steam driven water-elevator lift to create Metzger Farms, which in 1955 was purchased by the Division of Wildlife. Today, the property is managed cooperatively by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The high-quality wetland attracts thousands of migrating waterfowl, songbirds and shorebirds.

Common Species:  

Canada Goose, Trumpeter Swan, Lesser Scaup, Sandhill Crane, Common Tern, Northern Flicker, Warbling Vireo, Tree Swallow, pintails, wigeon, shovelers, blue-winged teal, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks and red-breasted mergansers. Lesser numbers of redheads, scaup, buffleheads, ruddy ducks and canvasbacks also frequent Magee Marsh during migration, along with over 100 other species of birds. 

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

14000 OH-2, Oak Harbor, OH 43449

Distance from Toledo: 30 min

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (

Established in 1961, to protect the network of wetlands, grasslands and forests that provide habitat for a variety of migratory birds, as well as threatened and endangered species, the Refuge protects  more than 10,000 acres, it has been recognized  globally for its value to wildlife.

Common species: 

Waterfowl, Canada geese, trumpeter swans nesting on muskrat cabins, with goslings, cygnets, shorebirds, songbirds, wading birds and bald eagles feeding their young. 

Black Swamp Bird Observatory

13551 West, OH-2, Oak Harbor, OH 43449

Distance from Toledo: 30 min


Founded by a group of biologists studying bird migration in the area in 1992, Black Swamp’s long-term research data has been used to assist both private and governmental land owners to better manage their properties to support migratory bird species. 

Common Species: 

American Woodcock, Rusty Blackbird, Fox Sparrow, Warbling Vireo, Willow Flycatcher and Yellow Warbler. 

Cullen Park

4500 N. Summit Street, Point Place (Toledo) Ohio 43611

Distance from Toledo: 11 minutes

Common Species:

Shorebirds, warblers and other perching birds in the trees along the path. There are excellent views of ducks, gulls, herons, and egrets from the causeway trail and the trail south on Summit St. leading to Bay View Park.

Sylvania Outdoor Community Parks

Outdoor Sylvania Community Parks –

Olander Park: 17 min

Sylvan Prairie: 24 min

Serving  Sylvania, and the surrounding communities with five beautiful parks, fun, public educational activities, and three facilities for event rental, the stated mission is “Enriching the community by creating spaces for celebrating, contemplating, and engaging with nature and each other.”

Common Species: 

Shorebirds, Waterfowl, Tropical Forest Songbirds, Hummingbirds, Grassland Birds. Plus, don’t miss the annual monarch butterfly migration each September. 

Toledo MetroParks Featured Birding locations

Distance from Toledo: Multiple locations

Birding | Metroparks Toledo

Lucas County has an abundance of birds and plenty of places to see them. Metroparks is part of the Lake Erie Birding Trail, featuring premiere sites to see almost 400 species.

Oak Opening Species: American Redstart, Blue Grosbeak, Blue-headed Vire, Blue-winge, Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Summer Tanager, Yellow-breasted Chat ,Yellow-throated Vireo, Yellow-throated Warbler

Some of the many species migrating through Toledo:

Bay-breasted Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Golden-winged Warbler, Kentucky Warbler, Kirtland’s Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Parula, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler

Maumee Bay State Park

Distance from Toledo: 21 min

1400 State Park Rd, Oregon, OH 43616

Ohio State Parks & Watercraft | Ohio Department of Natural Resources (

More than 300 bird species have been observed at this unique stretch of Ohio land that meets Lake Erie.

Common Species: 

Ducks and large flocks of blackbirds are common. Hawks, Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks, Golden Eagles,  Sharp-shinned Hawks, Ospreys, Broad-winged Hawks, Lapland Longspurs, Sanderlings, Red Knots and Ruddy Turnstones. Songbird migration can be excellent with over 30 species of warblers present plus many other neotropical migrants.