The Ottawa National Wildlife Refugee is located next to Lake Erie between Magee Marsh and Metzger Marsh. It is a great place to go birding because it is another stop-over during the spring / fall bird migration, particularly for water birds in the spring. It’s also a nesting / hunting area for local eagles.
Entrance to the refuge is off of State Route 2 in Ottawa County. The visitors center features a small exhibit area, conference rooms, maps of the refuge, restrooms, and a telescope aimed at a distant eagle’s nest. While we were there, two swans were preening next to a pond in front of the visitors center.
From the visitors center we drove to the trail head. It featured an elaborate information kiosk. The trails are small one lane gravel roadways that criss-cross between a series of ponds and wetlands. Observation platforms are conveniently placed for wildlife viewing. There is a trail that connects Ottawa with adjacent Magee Marsh. Dogs are permitted at the refuge.
Below are some views from the observation platform.
Part of the trail ran parallel to something resembling a canal.
In the shrubs and trees bordering the wetland there were small birds.
Some of the vegetation fringing the wetland had wildflowers during our visit in May.
Ottawa also includes two other nearby locations – Navarre and Darby Marsh which are not open to the public. The staff is also responsible for managing the nearby Cedar Point National Wildlife Refuge and West Sister Island National Wildlife Refuge (featured in an episode of “Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs”). Neither of these sites are open to the public.
Update from Deb
I had an opportunity to talk with some more knowledgeable people about the nest that the egret is standing on in the above photos. Egrets, like Great Blue Herons, nest high above in trees. The egret that’s pictured here is standing on top of a Canada goose nest. It turns out that egrets will happily eat up Canada geese goslings.
- TrekOhio: Ottawa County Parks & Nature Preserves — This is the county where the wildlife refuge is located; check out this page for links to the official site and for information on nearby parks and preserves.
- TrekOhio: Magee Marsh Wildlife Area; there is a trail that leads directly from Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to Magee Marsh.
- TrekOhio: Birding Resources — Our collection of links to websites, articles, maps, and videos related to birding in Ohio. Points to information on birding hotspots, organizations, events, and more.
- TrekOhio: Our articles on the “Biggest Week in American Birding” over a number of years.
- TrekOhio: Heron Rookeries (Heronries) in Ohio; although the birds pictured in the nests here are Great Blue Herons, egrets have similar nests.
- US Fish & Wildlife Service: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
- Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Association
- ODNR: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
- eBird.com: Bird Observations at Ottawa NWR
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