Follow by Email

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Magee Marsh in May: In Search of the Majestic Warbler

May is an amazing time for birding in Ohio, particularly if you're interested in viewing warblers.  For the past few years, I have made certain to visit Magee Marsh in May to behold the majesty of the spring migration. 

Entrance to Magee Marsh Boardwalk

Last year was my first trip to Magee, and I confirmed identification of the following species:

  • American Redstart
  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Blackburnian Warbler
  • Blue-winged Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Palm Warbler
  • Prothonotary Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler

The truth is that I also saw quite a few birds that I was not able to positively ID, but the great thing about Magee is that there are many expert birders who are willing to help. Mostly, I walked along the boardwalk with a sense of awe. 

The Prothonotary Warbler stole the show and put on a dazzling aerial display for a small crowd of birders gathered on the boardwalk. Many of the birders were equipped with cameras attached to enormous lenses that cost more than my first and second car combined. I was taking pictures with my smartphone, so please excuse the picture quality. Additionally, by no means do I even approach competency when it comes to professional photography; however, I do think I did better this year. Anyway, below is a shot of the Prothonotary Warbler. The image doesn't do it justice. 

Prothonotary Warbler

I left Magee last year a full-fledged birder in spirit. The great thing about birding Magee in May is that the birds come to you. You don't have to be a great birder to have an amazing birding experience at Magee; in fact, you don't even have to be a good birder.  Just grab a pair of binoculars, a good field guide or download a good birding app, and take a long, slow stroll. Many of the warblers appear at eye-level so you probably won't even leave with a sore neck. You will leave feeling happy and satisfied, though. All you need to do is get out on the boardwalk and prepare to be amazed. I couldn't wait to return again this year. 

So, after a long, hard winter, I made the journey to Magee Marsh again this year. Except this time I made two trips to Magee. I positively identified the following species:

  • Bay-breasted Warbler
  • Black-and-White Warbler
  • Black-throated Blue Warbler 
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
  • Blackpoll Warbler
  • Cape May Warbler
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Northern Parula
  • Palm Warbler
  • Swainson's Thrush
  • Warbling Vireo
  • Wilson's Warbler
  • Yellow Warbler 

My trips to Magee in May have been among the greatest birding experiences of my life. It is no secret that people travel from around the world to visit Magee, and if you plan to make the trip you should be prepared to deal with the crowds, but I have always found the birders to be pleasant, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable. If you aren't able to recognize a bird yourself, there is usually someone around to help. I was proud to help some other birders identify a few species this year, and I have no doubt that visiting Magee has helped my development as a birder. Each visit to Magee is like a season of birding and a lifetime of learning all in one day.

So, I will leave you with a few photos that I took on my most recent trip to Magee. I think they're a  little better, but I am still using a smart phone. Perhaps next year I will return with a better camera, but my memories are vivid and will last forever. 

Yellow Warbler
Cape May Warbler

Magnolia Warbler


Chestnut-sided Warbler
Northern Parula

Take the time to get outdoors. There is an amazing world out there waiting for you. 

Keep birding,