Greg Miller Big Year Series

OHIO & MICHIGAN: Magee Marsh & Kirtland’s Warbler

OHIO MICHIGAN Kirtland's Warbler


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2022 :: May 15 - May 23
2023 :: May 14 - May 22


From: $2,200 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Detroit, Michigan (DTW)


4-7 Participants


2022: 6 spaces available





This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of OHIO & MICHIGAN: Magee Marsh & Kirtland’s Warbler

  • Magical spring migration
  • Up to 35 possible warbler species
  • Exceptional, up close views
  • Kirtland’s Warbler on the breeding grounds

Description of OHIO & MICHIGAN: Magee Marsh & Kirtland’s Warbler

Witness the amazing return of eastern neotropical migrants during the height of spring migration at what is aptly-described as “the Warbler Capital of the World” – Magee Marsh, on the south shore of Lake Erie in northwestern Ohio.

The famed Magee Marsh boardwalk winds through a 7-acre woodlot that is strategically positioned between Lake Erie and marshes of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Large numbers of warblers, vireos, orioles, thrushes and cuckoos drop into this haven during their northbound journey, giving excellent opportunities to observe and photograph them up close. Magee and adjacent beach-ridge woods provide critically important resting place and refueling point for many of these birds before they cross Lake Erie to their breeding grounds. We’ll explore a variety of habitats to enjoy other goodies such as Red-headed Woodpecker, Lark Sparrow, American Woodcock, and Eastern Screech-owl.

Our tour finishes in central Michigan, experiencing the endangered Kirtland’s Warbler amongst Jack Pines on their breeding grounds. Highlights along the way include Henslow’s Sparrow, Cerulean Warbler, and Evening Grosbeak. We also visit Tawas Point State Park for migrating warblers and songbirds. The pace of the trip is relaxed with ample opportunity to photograph the birds.


Length of Tour


Brief Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive anytime PM in Detroit, Michigan
Day 2 : Transfer to Oregon, OH; Magee Marsh WA for warblers and migrants
Day 3 : Ottawa NWR and Howard Marsh for migrants, waterfowl and shorebirds
Day 4 : Oak Openings for grassland and woodland breeders
Day 5 : Magee Marsh WA, Maumee Bay for warblers and migrants
Day 6 : Michigan for Cerulean Warbler and Henslow’s Sparrow
Day 7 : Kirtland’s Warbler; Tawas Point
Day 8 : Tawas Point; Nayanquing Point; transfer to Detroit
Day 9 : AM departure from Detroit Airport


**The exact itinerary is subject to change at the discretion of the leader based upon availability of accommodations, weather conditions, and the latest intel on our target species.

Day 1 – Arrive anytime after 2pm and check into our Detroit Airport hotel

Day 2-5 – 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 Hooded, Blue-winged, Prairie and Pine Warbler, Lark Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Bobolink, Summer Tanager, Blue Grosbeak and Red-headed Woodpecker.

Day 6-8 – We head north of Detroit into central Michigan stopping along the way for Cerulean Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler and Henslow’s Sparrow. We will 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, Upland Sandpiper and Brewer’s Blackbird.  Another wonderful migrant trap is Tawas Point State Park where we explore various areas of the park for songbirds, any there is always the chance of a rarity showing up.  Our final stop is at Nayanquing Point SWA along the edge of Saginaw Bay gives us an opportunity at rails, bitterns, shorebirds, terns and Sedge Wren, before having to return to Detroit.

Day 9 – AM departure from Detroit Airport (DTW)



$2,200 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Detroit, Michigan (Airport code DTW).
This trip ends in same as arrival city (Airport code DTW).

Single Supplement and other Cost Additions

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $440 will be assessed.

Cost Includes

Cost includes airport transfers, all ground transportation, 8 nights accommodations, entrance fees and services of your professional leader(s).

Not included in the Cost

All meals, flights to/from destination city, trip insurance, or anything that is not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of participants are registered the trip can still run with a small-group supplement fee per person determined by the number of participants.

Deposit Requirements

A $500 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

Our 8 nights, 4 nights in Oregon, 1 night at Grayling, 1 at Tawas, and 2 nights (day 1 & 8) in Detroit, are in standard, en-suite and comfortable accommodations, chosen for their proximity to our birding destinations. Our first and last night is adjacent to Detroit Airport (DTW) with free shuttle to the airport, is for convenience and ease of travel. Wherever possible, we support establishments that implement eco-friendly policies.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

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).

Recommended Field Guide

There are a number of excellent field guides that cover the birds seen on this trip. Some are also available as an ebook/App. 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!


Non-smoking Trip

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


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.

Climate / Weather

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.

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we highly recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to cover your investment. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

Location Map