2023-05-07 Magee Marsh Ohio

Black-Throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescens
My last stop in Ohio, before entering Canada in 2023 was at Magee Marsh, on the southern shore of Lake Erie. Spring migration was in full swing, and many birds staged there, fattening up before flying over the Great Lakes.

After a lovely 3-day visit with my friends Bruce and Loretta in south Dayton, I hit the road again. I revised my trajectory into Canada from Niagara Falls to Detroit, where I might experience warbler migration at point Pelee. It is a legendary event. I could have been in position to enter Canada in a few hours, but I scheduled a 23 mile side-trip to Magee Marsh (also highly rated) on Ohio’s southern shore of Lake Erie. 

The timing for my visit to Magee Marsh was a mixed bag. On the one hand, I landed here while bird migration was ramping up and there were plenty of species to entertain me. On the other hand, it was Sunday, and there were more birders than birds. Magee Marsh is enormous. With a long parking area between Lake Erie to the north and the wetlands to the south. And there is a long, elaborate boardwalk winding through the marsh. 

Between the parking lot and the wetlands is a strip of trees and shrubs where I enjoyed the company of warblers, gnatcatchers, and vireos. Atop several of the highest trees, were nesting Bald Eagles. The photographic problem I faced was the sun shining from behind my subjects. Under such conditions, it is difficult to capture the richness of color that adorned many of the birds before me. Though it was a struggle, I had a few close encounters with the birds as they danced through the dense understory.

After an hour of shooting into the sun, I walked to one of the entrances to the boardwalk and joined the crush of birders and photographers congregating there. In places where certain species were seen, the throng of observers clustered so close, it was difficult to navigate past the grid-lock, let alone take pictures. Despite the challenges of a crowded path, I enjoyed the overall experience, and met some nice birds, including two species new to me. 

Until this day, my only encounter with a Palm Warbler was during a February 2017 seafaring expedition to the Revillagigedo Islands 600 miles off the coast of Colima Mexico. Here, I enjoyed an extended visit with foraging birds refueling before resuming their trip north into Canada.

For my money, the Black-Throated Blue Warblers I found bouncing through the low shrubs next to the boardwalk were well-worth the price of admission. What a glorious bird! And so well named. Whether a desert sparrow, a ‘green’ or a ‘gray’ warbler, I’ve never met a ‘black-throated’ bird I didn’t love to hang out with. 

When I ended my visit at Magee Marsh, I resumed my own migration north to Canada. Rather than making an end-of-the-day push across the border, I thought it better to find a safe parking place south of Detroit for the night, then grab an early breakfast in the morning and deal with the customs-immigration folks with a clear head and full stomach.

Next stop; Point Pelee!

Click map markers to reveal further information