9. Crane Creek State Park, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Ohio
The state-owned Crane Creek State Park and Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and the adjoining Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge encompass some of the best birding areas in Ohio. Birders visit the hotspots, located along the state’s Lake Erie coast, to see migrating waterfowl and shorebirds and to search for warblers and Bald Eagles.
“Concentrations of birds are always notable here during migration, and weather can conspire to make them extraordinary,” says Bill Long of Delaware, Ohio. “The marshes are lively during the warm months with wildflowers, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians as well as birds.”
The Crane Creek area is more than a great birding spot for Robert Bates of Austin, Texas. As a second-grader, he and his classmates took a field trip to the park to look for birds they had written reports about. (He was looking for a Dunlin.) “I had always been interested in wild-life and nature from a very young age,” Bates writes. “Yet I credit our teacher, Mrs. Kerns, our bird reports, and the trip to Crane Creek as being the clincher for the rest of my life. It inspired me to attend college and obtain a degree in wildlife biology, and sparked my love of birds and travels as a birder. I was also treated to seeing some migrating Dunlin on our field trip. To this day, I still enjoy nothing more than visiting Crane Creek for a day or two of birding.”
Location: Along the shores of Lake Erie, 22 miles east of Toledo, Ohio • Best time to visit: April and May; July through January • Birds: Tundra and Trumpeter Swan, Green Heron, shorebirds, warblers, sparrows • Contact:Crane Creek State Park: (419) 836-7758; Magee Marsh Wildlife Area: (419) 898-0960; Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge: (419) 898-0014