Magee Marsh birding takes off with warm weather and favorable winds

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CARROLL TOWNSHIP – It’s not a long journey for Rick Craig when he decides to make the trip to Magee Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary.

He forgot a hat to protect his head from the sun, but Clyde resident Craig remembered to bring his camera on Thursday as he and thousands of other avid birdwatchers hiked the park’s iconic boardwalk. state and marveling at a stream of migrating birds pouring into the Magee Swamp.

“I’m only 40 minutes away. Gotta get here as much as I can,” Craig said, as he counted down seven new birds he’d seen this week in the swamp during the biggest annual week in the world. birdwatching in the United States. party.

Birdwatchers from Ohio, US states and international visitors brought their cameras and binoculars to Magee Marsh Wildlife Preserve this week to observe dozens of migratory bird species as they traveled through northwest Ohio.

Thursday marked Craig’s 10th trip to Magee Marsh in two months.

He’s seen magnolias, prothonotaries, Canada warblers and Wilson’s warblers this week.

Craig said he snaps photos of everything in the swamp, where snapping turtles, beavers, American bald eagles and other wildlife share space with migrating birds.

Visitors to the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area were able to see dozens of migratory birds this week, including the black-throated blue warbler pictured here.

Migratory birds attract national and international visitors

Crowds for the peak migration season, which runs from mid-April to late May, have reached up to 90,000.

Crowds are usually around 60,000 to 80,000.

The peak in migration usually comes around the time of the Biggest Week celebration, which runs through Sunday.

Although the crowds include a high percentage of repeat visitors, this year’s peak migration attracted Magee Marsh birdwatchers Deb Ferguson and John Loz.

Ferguson and Loz live in the Albany, NY area.

Describing themselves as avid birdwatchers, Loz said he and Ferguson consider Magee Marsh to be on their bucket list for Ohio birding spots.

They also visited Metzger Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and East Harbor State Park, where Loz said he spotted 58 different bird species.

Thousands of birdwatchers descended on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh Wildlife Preserve and other northwest Ohio birding hotspots this week in America's biggest week-long celebration. birdwatching in the United States.

Ferguson said she and Loz spotted warblers from Tennessee and Canada while visiting Ohio.

“It was a thrill. It was hard to get,” Ferguson said, as she and Loz paused briefly on the boardwalk in Magee Marsh on their third day at the park.

Loz said he and Ferguson saw more bird species on their trip than any other birding site they remembered in North America.

Birdwatchers from all over the United States travel to northwest Ohio and visit birding spots like the Magee Marsh Nature Preserve Boardwalk.  Warmer weather and a change in wind direction led to a wave of migratory birds flying over Magee Marsh and other birding hotspots this week.

Weather and winds cooperate to ensure birders arrive for the biggest week

Craig showed up at Magee Marsh for the opening day of Biggest Week, May 6.

He and other bird enthusiasts were greeted by cool temperatures and lots of rain, with northerly winds posing a barrier to migrating birds seeking to get to northwest Ohio.

These unfavorable conditions dissipated at the beginning of the week.

Kelly Schott, a communications specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the winds shifted Sunday evening, with temperatures reaching the 70s and 80s this week.

With these changes came a steady stream of migrating birds.

“Monday night was the biggest bird spike we’ve had so far,” Schott said, noting that the Magee Marsh parking lot was full Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Birdwatchers had recorded sightings of Kirtland warblers two days this week.

Schott said visitors were also drawn to a group of nesting green herons.

She said she expected Saturday to be the busiest day of the park’s peak migration season.

The ODNR partnered with local conservation organizations to celebrate Ohio Bird Day Thursday at Magee Marsh.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife Chief, Kendra Wecker, joined area birding groups and conservation officials for the celebration.

The group observed the Crane Creek Estuary Boardwalk and Trail, two of Magee Marsh’s most important birding trails. A tour of Governor Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio project at Turtle Creek was also arranged.

Deb Nofzinger, Sandusky County Park District Program Supervisor, attended the Bird Ohio Ceremony.

She pointed out black-throated blue warblers and chestnut-sided warblers as she stood on the boardwalk.

Nofzinger said she had never seen so many bay-breasted warblers at Magee Marsh than on Thursday.

The Sandusky County Park District offered a canoe birding program at Decoy Marsh from May 4-15, with participants canoeing along Green Creek and engaging in birdwatching while they’re headed for Sandusky Bay.

dacarson@gannett.com

419-334-1046

Twitter: @DanielCarson7

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