Magee Marsh, Ohio with excursions to Mio and Waterloo (Michigan) -15 - 24 May 2011

Published by Graham Etherington (etherington AT

Participants: Graham Etherington


I visited Magee Marsh Ohio, (with an excursion to Mio and Waterloo (near Ann Arbor) both in Michigan) for 9 days between 15 – 23 May 2011. Most of my time was concentrated around Magee and the sites below. On 20 May I visited Mio, MI to go on the Kirtland’ Warbler tour and then went to visit Waterloo State Recreation Area for a few new birds and to see some birds that don’t occur around Mio.

Sites: Kenn Kaufman’s page on the better birding sites around Magee lists the best places for birding around Magee an can be found at:

The sites that I visited were:

Magee Marsh. This site is signposted off Hwy 2, just east of Ottowa NWR. Take the road north and park in the parking lot at the end of the road (next to Lake Erie). The west side of the boardwalk is often the best place as it is the most sheltered. The boardwalk has numbers etched into the handrail so birders can reference numbered areas along the boardwalk to report and find rare birds. Another place that I found to be really good was the north-east corner of the parking lot. A long row of boulders gives this area quite a lot of shelter and I saw a number of good birds here. When you exit the east side of the boardwalk, head directly north towards the lake and check the sheltered area from the west end of the boulders, east to the maintenance shed.

Maumee Bay State Park. Take the road west towards the beach and park in the last parking lot. Check the beach and the sandy shore of the ‘Inland Lake’ for Caspian Terns, gulls and shorebirds. Return to the entrance road and head north towards the conference centre and then follow signs for the Nature Centre. There’s a long boardwalk that starts/ends at the Nature Centre. Some of the boardwalk wasn’t that productive, with the areas closer to the Nature Centre being the best. Go anti-clockwise around the boardwalk and return when the habitat opens up (the reedbed areas aren’t very good). Head clockwise round the boardwalk for a while - the scrubby areas in the marsh were good for Northern Waterthrush.

Shorebirds – The water level was quite high when I visited and all the marshes and nature reserves had water levels that were too high for shorebirds. This meant that shorebirds fed mainly in flooded fields. The only marsh that was good for shorebirds was to be found at the east end of the Lucas-Ottowa Rd (west of Magee off Hwy 2). It’s usually a case of driving around and looking carefully at flooded fields to find shorebirds. When I was there Howard Rd was pretty good most of the time, but good fields came and went as the water levels rose and fell.

Lakeway Drive – Lakeway Dr. runs along the lake front between Cedar Point and Metzger Marsh. The best spot is a small area of woodland at the junction with Waterway Drive and the far western point of Lakeway Dr, west of Park Colony Rd.

N Lickert-Harder Rd – This road was very good for Bobolink and Dickcissel. Drive south opposite the entrance to Ottowa NWR for about 2 miles until you go over a railway line. Then drive for another half a mile until you come to a yellow ‘Stop ahead’ sign. Park here. The Bobolinks should be displaying on the east side of the road and the Dickcissels (only a few) to the west. It’s quite possible that depending on what’s grown in the surrounding fields will depend on whether the birds will be present.

Waterloo State Recreation Area. The grasslands and mature woodland of Waterloo SRA (site SE-13 in Chartier and Ziarno’s ‘A Birders Guide to Michigan’), is only 90 minutes drive from Magee and provides the opportunity to see a number of species not seen in the Magee area. I birded the area along McClure Rd. The area from the headquarters office and west for a about 1.5 miles was very good and contained a number of good birds such as Hooded Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher. Also, Cassidy Road for a mile east of Roe Rd was good. I saw Acadian Flycatcher and Cerulean Warbler here. Finally, Waterloo is a great place for Henslow’s Sparrow. These can be found near St. Jacob’s Lutheran Church on Riethmiller Road. With your back to the church, go left along Riethmiller Rd until you get to the red house (12333 Reithmiller Rd) and walk into the field on the opposite side of the road and walk clockwise along the firebreak until you come to a field with long dry grass in it. This is the place to look. Listen for the birds light 'tsick' call and their short chirpy tri-syllabic song.

Mio – this is THE place to go for Kirtland’s Warbler. The US Forest Service run regular trips into the Huron National Forest to see Kirtland’s Warbler. You are escorted into the breeding area where very good views of the warblers can be obtained. I’d highly recommend going on one of these tours, even if you see Kirtland’s Warbler before that. Seeing them singing from the Jack Pines at close range is an excellent birding experience. It is probably possible to see Kirtland’s Warbler at a distance without going on a tour. (These directions are taken from memory, so they may not be 100% accurate) Travel south from Mio on Hwy 33 for about 6 miles and take Curtisville Rd east for 5 miles and then drive north on Country Rd 4329. After about 1 mile pull over and scope the top of the Jack Pines to the east of the road. DO NOT enter the Jack Pine forest. Kirtland’s Warblers prefer trees between 5 and 15 foot tall, so look for birds singing from the tops of these or nearby exposed perches.

Nayanaquing Point – NE-3 in ‘A Birders Guide to Michigan’. This is a good stop off on the way to Mio. It has a number of wetland species that aren’t found commonly further south such as Black Tern, Yellow-headed Blackbird, American and Least Bittern. It’s also good for waterfowl and migrant passerines. Take Kitchen Rd east and then go south to Observation Tower. Spend some time looking from the tower for Yellow-headed Blackbirds and other marshland birds and then walk south along the levee checking the reedbeds and marsh for bitterns, terns and other marshbirds. Then retrace your steps and drive south on Tower Beach Rd. Park at the end and walk south down the levee to view the south pool for waterfowl and terns.


For a more detailed commentary and lots of photos, see my blog

15 – 18 May – Magee + surrounding area.

19 May – morning at Magee, drive to Mio, stopping at Nayanaquing Point.

20 May – Morning on Mio Kirtlands tour and birding around Mio. Drive to Ann Arbor with late afternoon in Waterloo State Rec Area.

21 May – Morning at Waterloo State Rec Area. Afternoon back at Magee

22 – 23 May – Magee.

Species Lists

1. Canada Goose Branta canadensis. Common breeder.
2. Mute Swan Cygnus olor. Breeding pair on pond next to St Jacobs Lutheren Church, Waterloo SRP.
3. Trumpeter Swan Cygnus buccinator. Seen regularly at Magee Marsh, including a breeding pair viewable from the approach road.
4. Wood Duck Aix sponsa. Common breeder.
5. Gadwall Anas strepera. About 6 at Nayanquing.
6. American Wigeon Anas americana. 2 drakes at Nayanquing.
7. Mallard Anas platyrhynchos. Common breeder.
8. Blue-winged Teal Anas discors. 1 drake at Nayanquing.
9. Green-winged Teal Anas crecca. 1 drake at Nayanquing.
10. Canvasback Aythya valisineria. 1 pair at Lake Erie Metropark.
11. Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus. A female at the Ottowa-Lucas Rd.
12. Ruffed Grouse Bonasa umbellus. 1 in Huron National Forest just south of Mio.
13. Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo. 1 along McClure Rd, Waterloo.
14. Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps. Common in most areas of open water.
15. Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus. Very common around Lake Erie.
16. American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus. 1 bird booming at Nayanquing.
17. Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis. 3 birds seen at Nayanquing.
18. Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias. Common around Lake Erie.
19. Great Egret Ardea alba. Common around Lake Erie.
20. Snowy Egret Egretta thula. 1 bird at Magee Marsh.
21. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis. 2 birds seen outside Magee Marsh entrance.
22. Green Heron Butorides virescens. Seen regularly in Magee area.
23. Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax. Seen regularly in Magee area.
24. Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura. The commonest raptor, seen in groups of up to 5 birds.
25. Osprey Pandion haliaetus. 1 pair at Point Mouillee.
26. Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus. Seen daily in Magee area.
27. Cooper's Hawk Accipiter cooperii. 1 bird around Magee.
28. Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus. 1 bird from the road just south of Mio.
29. Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis. Seen most days in single figures.
30. American Kestrel Falco sparverius. 1 seen regularly on wires on road outside Magee.
31. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus. 2 birds, both hunting shorebirds, in fields around Magee.
32. King Rail Rallus elegans. 1 very confiding bird at Nayanquing.
33. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus. A few birds at Ottowa NWR.
34. American Coot Fulica americana. Very common in most aquatic habitats.
35. Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis. Small numbers seen in Waterloo and Nayanquing.
36. Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola. Small groups of up to 30 seen in fields around Magee.
37. Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus. Small groups of up to 6 seen in fields around Magee.
38. Killdeer Charadrius vociferus. Common breeder in most habitats.
39. Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius. Single birds seen in fields around Magee.
40. Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria. 1 bird at Lucas-Ottowa Rd.
41. Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca. A few birds at Lucas-Ottowa Rd.
42. Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes. Small groups seen in fields around Magee.
43. Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda. A displaying pair at the junction of W. Kneeland Rd and N Galbraith Rd just NE of Mio.
44. Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa. 1 bird seen in fields near Magee.
45. Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres. Small groups of up to 50 seen in fields around Magee.
46. Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla. Small groups of up to 20 seen in fields around Magee.
47. Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla. Small groups of up to 5 seen in fields around Magee.
48. Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos. 1 bird seen in fields around Magee.
49. Dunlin Calidris alpina. Large groups of up to 300 seen in fields around Magee.
50. Stilt Sandpiper Calidris himantopus. 2 birds seen at Lucas-Ottowa Rd.
51. American Woodcock Scolopax minor. Seen almost daily at Magee.
52. Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis. Commonest gull, seen in all suitable areas.
53. Herring Gull Larus argentatus. Seen in small groups around Lake Erie.
54. Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus. A couple of birds seen at Maumee Bay.
55. Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia. Up to 10 birds at Maumee Bay plus 2 birds at both Nayanquing and Mio.
56. Black Tern Chlidonias niger. 4 birds at Nayanquing.
57. Common Tern Sterna hirundo. Seen in large numbers around Lake Erie.
58. Rock Pigeon Columba livia. Feral pigeons seen mainly around farmland.
59. Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura. Common in most areas.
60. Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus. 1 bird at Magee and 1 bird at Lucas-Ottowa Rd.
61. Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus. 2 birds at Magee and 2 birds along Lakeway Dr.
62. Eastern Screech-Owl Megascops asio. A roosting bird seen daily at Magee.
63. Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor. A roosting bird seen during the day at Maumee Bay and a few birds heard at night around Oregon.
64. Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica. Regularly seen around Magee and a few other areas.
65. Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris. Small numbers seen around Magee and Maumee.
66. Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus. 1 bird visiting a possible nest hole along Lakeview Dr.
67. Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus. Seen in small numbers daily at Magee.
68. Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens. Seen in small numbers daily at Magee.
69. Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus. 1 birds seen at Maumee Bay.
70. Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus. Seen in small numbers at Magee and Waterloo.
71. Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus. 1 bird seen at Waterloo.
72. Eastern Wood-Pewee Contopus virens. Seen in small numbers in later half of trip.
73. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventris. Seen in small numbers at Magee in later half of trip.
74. Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens. About 6 birds seen at Waterloo.
75. Alder Flycatcher Empidonax alnorum. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
76. Willow Flycatcher Empidonax traillii. Seen in small numbers at Magee.
77. Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus. The commonest Empid at Magee.
78. Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe. 1 bird at Magee.
79. Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus. Seen daily in small numbers at most sites.
80. Blue-headed Vireo Vireo solitarius. 2 or 3 birds at Magee. 1 singing bird at Waterloo.
81. Warbling Vireo Vireo gilvus. Seen in small numbers every day.
82. Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus. Seen in small numbers most days at Magee.
83. Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus. Seen in small numbers most days at Magee (especially towards end of trip).
84. Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata. Common in most woodland areas.
85. American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos. Regular in most areas.
86. Common Raven Corvus corax. A few birds around the Mio area.
87. Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris. Quite common in fields around Magee.
88. Purple Martin Progne subis. Breeds at Maumee Bay and seen regularly over Magee.
89. Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor. Common breeder around Magee.
90. Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis. Seen in small numbers in open water areas.
91. Bank Swallow Riparia riparia. Seen regularly around Magee and common at Nayanquing.
92. Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota. Breeding birds under bridge on Hwy 2, 6 miles SE of Magee next to Porky's Pizza Trof.
93. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. Seen daily in quite large numbers.
94. Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus. Seen in small numbers at Magee and Waterloo.
95. Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolor. 2 birds at Ottowa and small number of birds at Waterloo.
96. Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta canadensis. A couple of birds at Magee and Maumee Bay.
97. White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis. Common around Waterloo.
98. Brown Creeper Certhia americana. 1 bird at Waterloo.
99. House Wren Troglodytes aedon. Common at Magee.
100. Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris. Common at Nayanquing.
101. Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
102. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
103. Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis. Seen in small numbers in fields around Magee.
104. Veery Catharus fuscescens. Quite common at Magee, but numbers tailed off at end.
105. Gray-cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus. A couple of birds at Magee and Maumee Bay.
106. Swainson's Thrush Catharus ustulatus. Seen daily in good numbers at Magee and Maumee Bay. A flock of 16 birds together at Maumee.
107. Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina. Seen almost daily at Magee.
108. American Robin Turdus migratorius. Common everywhere.
109. Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis. Common in woodland habitats.
110. Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum. 2 birds seen daily at Magee and a few birds around Mio.
111. European Starling Sturnus vulgaris. Seen daily in small numbers.
112. American Pipit Anthus rubescens. A few birds seen with Horned Larks in fields around Magee.
113. Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum. Large flocks seen at Magee towards end of trip.
114. Blue-winged Warbler Vermivora pinus. 1 bird seen in NE corner of parking lot at Magee.
115. Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera. 1 bird at Maumee Bay.
116. Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina. Seen in small numbers daily at Magee.
117. Orange-crowned Warbler Vermivora celata. 1 bird, a late migrant, seen along Lakeway Dr.
118. Nashville Warbler Vermivora ruficapilla. Seen in small numbers daily at Magee.
119. Northern Parula Parula americana. Seen in quite large numbers daily at Magee.
120. Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia. Seen daily in large numbers at Magee.
121. Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica. Seen daily in large numbers at Magee.
122. Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia. Seen daily in large numbers at Magee.
123. Cape May Warbler Dendroica tigrina. Seen almost daily in small numbers at Magee.
124. Black-throated Blue Warbler Dendroica caerulescens. Seen daily in large numbers at Magee.
125. Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata. Seen almost daily in small numbers at Magee.
126. Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
127. Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
128. Kirtland's Warbler Dendroica kirtlandii. About 10 birds seen at Magee during KW tour.
129. Palm Warbler Dendroica palmarum. Seen almost daily in very small numbers at Magee. Quite common around Mio.
130. Bay-breasted Warbler Dendroica castanea. Seen daily in large numbers at Magee. Numbers much smaller towards end of trip.
131. Blackpoll Warbler Dendroica striata. Seen daily in quite large numbers at Magee.
132. Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea. 2 birds seen along Cassidy Rd, Waterloo.
133. Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
134. American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla. Seen daily in large numbers at Magee.
135. Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
136. Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla. Seen almost daily in small numbers at Magee and Waterloo.
137. Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis. 2 birds seen at Maumee Bay.
138. Connecticut Warbler Oporornis agilis. 2 birds seen at Magee.
139. Mourning Warbler Oporornis philadelphia. Up to 5 birds seen at Magee.
140. Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
141. Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina. 2 birds seen along McClure Rd, Waterloo and 1 bird seen along Lakeview Dr.
142. Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
143. Canada Warbler Wilsonia canadensis. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
144. Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea. Quite common at Waterloo. 3 birds seen at Magee.
145. Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus. 1 female seen at Magee.
146. Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina. Quite common around open areas in most places.
147. Clay-colored Sparrow Spizella pallida. A few singing birds around Mio.
148. Field Sparrow Spizella pusilla. 1 bird at Ottowa NWR.
149. Savannah Sparrow Passerculus sandwichensis. Seen regularly in most open areas.
150. Henslow's Sparrow Ammodramus henslowii. Up to 6 birds in fields opposite St. Jacobs Lutheren Church, Waterloo.
151. Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia. Quite common in most areas.
152. Lincoln's Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii. A few migrants seen at Magee and Nayanquing.
153. Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana. Quite common at Nayanquing.
154. White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
155. White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys. A couple of birds at Magee. Quite common at Nayanquing and Mio.
156. Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis. 1 bird, a late migrant, feeding on beach at Magee.
157. Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis. Common in most habitats.
158. Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus. A few birds seen at Magee.
159. Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea. 1 or 2 birds seen at Magee, Maumee Bay and Waterloo.
160. Dickcissel Spiza americana. 2 singing birds just NW of junction with N Lickert-Harder Rd (opposite entrance to Ottowa NWR) and Hwy 163.
161. Bobolink Dolichonyx oryzivorus. Up to 10 displaying birds just NE of junction with N Lickert-Harder Rd (opposite entrance to Ottowa NWR) and Hwy 163.
162. Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus. Common in most habitats.
163. Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna. 2 birds seen in farmland around Magee.
164. Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus. Up to 15 birds at Nayanquing.
165. Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula. Common in most habitats.
166. Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater. Common in small numbers in most areas.
167. Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula. Seen daily in small numbers at Magee.
168. Purple Finch Carpodacus purpureus. A female in the NE corner of Magee parking lot was the only bird.
169. House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus. A few birds seen in residental areas around Magee.
170. American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis. Seen daily in samll numbers around Magee.
171. House Sparrow Passer domesticus. Common in built-up areas.