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Sunbird – Itinerary

Northwest Ohio: Spring Migration

Tuesday 3 May to Monday 9 May 2022
with Ethan Kistler as leader

2021 Tour Price : £1,750

  • Single Room Supplement : £420
  • Plus flights estimated at : £850
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler is one of about 35 species of warblers we may encounter on this tour.

    Chestnut-sided Warbler is one of about 35 species of warblers we may encounter on this tour. Photo: Steve Howell

  • Blackburnian Warbler

    Blackburnian Warbler Photo: Steve Howell

  • Prothonotary Warbler

    Prothonotary Warbler Photo: Steve Howell

  • Black-throated Blue Warbler

    Black-throated Blue Warbler Photo: Steve Howell

  • Bay-breasted Warbler

    Bay-breasted Warbler Photo: Steve Howell

  • Northern Parula

    Northern Parula Photo: Steve Howell

Branded as the “Warbler Capital of the World”, Northwest Ohio and the famous Magee Marsh boardwalk are one of the best areas to witness spring migration in North America! The convergence of several migration routes, the bird-blocking effect of Lake Erie, and a fine mix of habitats combine to produce a remarkable number and diversity of Neotropical migrants. Nearly all the woods will be filled with song as breeding males make their way to their northern breeding grounds. Raptors and waders should also be passing through in numbers, while we will also be able to catch up with a good number of lingering waterfowl. This is a migration spectacle worth experiencing!

In addition to Magee Marsh, we’ll visit a number of other productive but less crowded birding sites including Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Metzger and Howard Marshes, Pearson Metropark, Oak Openings Preserve, and - in southeast Michigan - Pointe Mouillee. Most days we’re likely to encounter more than one hundred species and we hope to see at least 30 species of warbler before the tour concludes.

Day 1: The trip begins at 6:00 p.m. in our hotel near the Detroit Metro Airport with a brief meeting followed by dinner. Night near Detroit Metro Airport.

Day 2: We’ll depart early for Pointe Mouillee State Game Area just north of the Ohio border. This 4,000-acre coastal wetland complex borders Lake Erie at the mouth of the Huron River and is a magnet for waterfowl, waterbirds, and waders with the latter depending on water levels. If we hit it right, we should see hundreds of dunlin and perhaps Short-billed Dowitcher and Black-bellied Plover among others. Black Tern, American White Pelican, and Yellow-headed Blackbird are locally rare, and we’ll keep an eye out for them. We’ll make several more stops en route to Ohio, targeting Bobolink among others. In the late afternoon we’ll check into our hotel and, if time permits, bird a local park before dinner. Night in Oregon, Ohio.

Days 3-5: With Oregon as our home base, we’ll spend the next three days birding all of the local hotspots in northwest Ohio. We’ll remain flexible as weather, winds, and bird reports will largely control when and where to bird. Our main stop will be the Magee Marsh boardwalk where sighting more than twenty species of warblers in a single day is not out of the question. We’ll also hope to see various species of vireos, flycatchers, thrushes, and cuckoos. We will also bird nearby productive woodland such as Metzger Marsh, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Pearson Metropark, and the Maumee Bay State Park boardwalk, keeping our eyes to the skies for migrating raptors - most notably Broad-winged Hawks. We’ll also bird several wetlands and flooded fields for waterfowl and shorebirds, especially Howard Marsh, which is a Toledo, Ohio, Metropark that was only recently converted from farmlands to 1,000 acres of prime wetland habitat and has attracted Black-necked Stilts, Wilson’s Phalaropes, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds - all three of which are rare breeders in Ohio! We’ll also search for American Pipit, Marsh Wren, and lingering ducks. One evening we’ll offer an optional night-birding excursion for rails and bitterns. Nights in Oregon.

Day 6: We’ll depart early for the forty-five-minute drive to Toledo’s largest Metropark, Oak Openings Preserve. This 5,000-acre park is predominately oak savanna which contains vegetated sand dunes. Wild lupins blanket the forest floor while prickly pear and sand cherries grow on the shifting dunes. Our main targets here are birds that we won’t find elsewhere: Barred Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, Lark Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Summer Tanager, Henslow’s Sparrow, and hopefully Yellow-breasted Chat. Red-headed Woodpeckers are abundant, and we should be able to pick up a good selection of neotropical migrants as well. After a full day of birding Oak Openings and its surroundings, we’ll make our way to Detroit. Night in Detroit.

Day 7: The tour concludes this morning in Detroit.

Updated: 17 November 2020