Posted in Birds, Hiking, Northwestern Ohio, Park review

Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

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.

An egret lying in wait for its prey at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

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.

The visitors center at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Hidden by the ceiling lighting, there is a telescope pointed at a distant eagle’s nest in the far right corner.
The visitors center also featured this simulated room from an outdoorsman’s home circa 1950s, or perhaps even earlier.
Swans grooming themselves near pond by 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.

Information kiosk near trailheads. Nearby there was a picnic table and vault latrines.
Trail map posted at kiosk. Color code: blue = pools, green = woodlands, yellow = grasslands, and brown = moist soil
Sample trail; it was kind of cloudy while we were there.
There were primitive benches to the side of the trail.
There is an observation platform near the tree to the right.

Below are some views from the observation platform.

An egret; I wonder if it’s standing on its nest.
It doesn’t look like there are any eggs or young.

Part of the trail ran parallel to something resembling a canal.


In the shrubs and trees bordering the wetland there were small birds.

Yellow warbler

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.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

15 thoughts on “Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge

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