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Magee Marsh and Kirtland’s Warbler

Chestnut-sided-Warbler-BINNS-D64A7943-copy-copyWitness the amazing return of eastern neotropical migrants during the height of spring migration at what has been described as “the Warbler Capital of the World” – Magee Marsh, on the south shore of Lake Erie in northwestern Ohio.

The boardwalk at Magee Marsh winds its way through a 7-acre woodlot that is strategically positioned between Lake Erie and marshes of Ottawa NWR. As large numbers of warblers, vireos, orioles, thrushes and swallows make their journey north, this migrant hotspot provides excellent opportunities to see them up close. Magee and adjacent beach-ridge woods provide critical habitat, a resting place and refueling point for many of these birds before they cross Lake Erie to their breeding grounds.

We finish in central Michigan with a visit to look for the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler amongst Jack Pines on their breeding grounds.

The pace of the trip is relaxed with ample opportunity to photograph the birds.

Focus: Birds, Photography


  • Tour Cost
  • Number of Days (Length of Tour)
    8 days / 7 nights


    Dates & Cost

    May 13 - 20, 2019  (FULL)
    $1595.00 per person, based upon double occupancy and 7 participants, from Detroit, MI.


    Single Supplement
    If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to get a roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $315.00 will be assessed.


    What is Included / Not Included in the Cost
    Included in the cost are all accommodations, transportation, Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp, entrance fees and permits, from Detroit, Michigan. You will be responsible for purchasing all meals and making your flight arrangements.


    $500.00, check, paypal or credit card, along with your completed Wildside Nature Tours Registration Form.


    How to Book
    In order to hold your space, you must complete the Wildside Nature Tours Registration Form found on-line, and submit it to us on-line, or download a copy and mail it to us, along with a $500.00 deposit per participant.


    Final Payment
    The balance due or full payment, by check, is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

  • Itinerary
  • Brief Itinerary:

    Day 1 : Afternoon arrival (by 4pm) in Detroit, Michigan; transfer to Oregon, OH
    Day 2 : Magee Marsh WA for warblers and migrants
    Day 3 : Ottawa NWR and Metzger WA for migrants, waterfowl and shorebirds
    Day 4 : Oak Openings for grassland and woodland breeders
    Day 5 : Magee Marsh WA for warblers and migrants
    Day 6 : Transfer to Grayling, Michigan with stop for Cerulean Warbler
    Day 7 : Kirtland’s Warbler; transfer to Detroit

    Day 8:  AM departure from Detroit Airport



    Day 1-5 - We will visit a number of hotspots during the course of our trip, several of which will be well worth more than one visit. The most famous of these is undoubtedly the 1-mile boardwalk at Magee Marsh WA which traverses though eastern deciduous woods. Here, along with similar woods at Ottawa NWR, Maumee Bay SP and Metzger Marsh WA it is possible to find up to 25 species of warblers, 5 vireos, 5 thrushes, various flycatchers, and orioles in a day. Imagine Spectacled Blue-headed Vireos, brilliantly colorful Cape May, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Bay-breasted and Blackburian Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Scarlet Tanagers all at close range!


    If we are lucky the adjacent cattails marshes may yield the secretive King Rail along with singing Lincoln’s Sparrows. In recent years the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler has made a rare appearance in this hotspot, and we hope to be just as lucky. On one evening there will be an optional dusk outing to watch American Woodcock display near to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory.


    Rural Ohio is dotted with antiquated barns and white silos bordering endless fields. We will search the ephemeral pools within plowed fields for Savannah Sparrow, Horned Larks, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Black-bellied Plover.


    Ottawa NWR consists of 4,755 acres of extensive woods, shrub lands, coastal wetlands, grasslands and open fields that has been designated as a critical migratory bird resting area. In the more open areas American Kestrels, Eastern Bluebirds, Blue Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole, Purple Martins can be seen flying over grasslands as Pheasants wonder through the corn stubble. There is a extensive system of foot-trail loops on the dikes surrounding several marsh impoundments. We will scour the mudflats for Dunlin, Pectoral Sandpiper, both yellowlegs, and lingering waterfowl. We should encounter nesting Trumpeter Swans and possibly a Black Tern in full breeding plumage quartering over the marsh.


    West of Toledo lies Oak Openings Preserve, a unique swathe of oak woodlands and savannas, remnant prairies and sand barren habitat, that holds an impressive diversity of birds. Our targets will be the breeding birds, including Lark Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink, Cerulean Warbler, Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Red-headed Woodpecker.


    Day 6-7 - We head north of Detroit into central Michigan to join an early morning forest service tour of the Jack Pine WA where Kirtland’s Warbler breed. Along with hopefully good views of this endangered species, we will look for Clay-colored Sparrow and Upland Sandpiper before having to return to Detroit.


    Day 8 - AM departure from Detroit Airport (DTW)

  • Accommodations
  • Accommodations
    Our 7 nights, 5 nights in Oregon and 1 night at Grayling, are in standard, en-suite and comfortable accommodations, chosen for their proximity to our birding destinations. Last night adjacent to Detroit Airport (DTW) with free shuttle to the airport. Wherever possible, we support establishments that implement eco-friendly policies.

  • Additional Info
  • The Warbler GuideThere are a number of excellent field guides that cover the birds seen on this trip. The Sibley Guide to Birds; National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America; Kaufman Field Guide to the Birds of North America; The Crossley ID Guide to mention a few.


    Since warblers are a major focus of the trip, The Warbler Guide by Stephenson and Whittle is an extraordinary detailed book containing everything you need to know about our wood-warblers!






    This trip is for non-smokers only. Smoking is not permitted at any time during our tour.


    Point of Departure (Getting There and Back)
    The tour begins and ends at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW), Michigan. You will be responsible for making your own flight arrangements to and from Detroit. You will need to arrive on Day 1 by 4:00pm, and depart anytime on Day 8.


    Travel Insurance
    As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment.


    We will using a 12 or 15-passenger van, driven by the leader (s). If the group size is smaller, a mini-van may be used.


    Physical Requirements
    Walking will be relatively easy over mostly flat terrain along paths in the woods, sandy beaches and boardwalks (1 mile at Magee Marsh). Note, that the boardwalk tends to be slippery should we have wet conditions. We may walk several miles over the course of a day. You must be physically fit and able to keep up with the group without being a burden to the participants or leader (s).


    Temperatures and weather conditions can widely during the trip. Expect the mornings to be chilly. Overnight lows in the 40’s (F) and daytime highs in the 50-60’s (F) are average; though warmer days are not unheard of! The possibility of rain is to be expected, and everyone should come prepared with waterproof clothing and shoes.


    Final Information
    Final Information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure.