LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION
This 2,202-acre controlled hunting area is located 17 miles west of Port Clinton on State Route 2, and 10 miles north of Oak Harbor on State Route 19.
HISTORY AND PURPOSE
The Lake Erie marshes gained fame during the late 1800s as some of the best waterfowl hunting areas in the United States. Wealthy sportsmen vied to purchase choice hunting sites, and as early as 1890 much of the wetland area was being operated for private shooting. By the end of 1951 the entire 30,000 acres of remaining marshland along Lake Erie, from Toledo to Sandusky, was under private club ownership. Today, the region still supports some of the most intensively developed and managed waterfowling clubs in the Midwest.
The Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, purchased by the Ohio Division of Wildlife in August 1951, lies in some of Ohio’s finest remaining wetlands. The marsh complex has historically been inhabited by large numbers of waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, and songbirds. The primary responsibility at Magee Marsh is the development and maintenance of high quality wetland habitat for a diverse array of wetland wildlife species.
During the 1960s, a small flock of Canada geese was released and goose nesting tubs were erected at Magee Marsh as part of Ohio’s Canada goose reintroduction program. Other goose management areas included Killdeer Plains, Mercer, and Mosquito wildlife areas. Between 9,000-11,000 goslings are produced on these areas annually, making Ohio’s goose production program the most successful program in the nation.
The Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station, headquarters for the Division of Wildlife’s wetland wildlife research, is housed on the second floor of the Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center, which is located on the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. Biologists at the research station are responsible for statewide research and management of wetland dependent wildlife including waterfowl, furbearers, and endangered wetland species, and bald eagles.
Waterfowl. During fall migration, thousands of Canada geese, mallards, black ducks, widgeon, and green-winged teal will use this portion of Lake Erie’s Western Basin marshes. Other common species found in Magee Marsh include pintails, gadwalls, shovelers, blue-winged teal, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, and red-breasted mergansers. Lesser numbers of redheads, scaup, buffleheads, ruddy ducks, and canvasbacks also frequent Magee Marsh during migration. Fall duck populations usually peak around mid-November.
These shallow marshes usually freeze over during the third week of November, but Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie normally remain open until mid-December. This open water, combined with an abundance of waste cereal grains in nearby fields, tends to hold relatively large populations of ducks in the area until late in the hunting season.
Spring flights of migrating waterfowl become apparent after the frozen marshes begin to thaw in February. Early flights of pintails, mallards, and black ducks follow the freeze line. Local giant Canada geese, along with a small population of wintering migratory geese, will stay through the winter in the vicinity of Magee Marsh. Flocks of migrating tundra swans, sometimes numbering 2,000-3,000 appear in late March and remain in the area until the end of April.
Other birds. Spring and fall migrations are spectacular at Magee Marsh, with more than 300 species of birds being recorded on the area. Bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey, and a large variety of hawks can be seen at Magee Marsh during the spring. A forested beach ridge located on Magee provides a critical feeding and resting habitat for more than 150 species of migrating songbirds, including 36 species of warblers, as they rest and refuel before continuing on their journey. An accessible boardwalk that meanders through this beach ridge provides some of the best bird watching opportunities in the Midwest. During the summer, herons, egrets, pied-billed grebes, ducks, and Canada geese can be seen in the marsh and along the waterways, and a variety of migrating shorebirds can be spotted as they feed in the mudflats during late summer and early fall. Always remember to keep you eyes open for a glimpse of the bald eagles that frequent the marsh.
Read more about birding at Magee Marsh in the American Birding Association's Birding magazine.
Mammals. The most common furbearers found in the wetland include muskrats, raccoons, skunks, mink, and foxes. Cottontail rabbits, fox squirrels, coyotes, and white-tailed deer are also present.
HUNTING AND TRAPPING
Waterfowl and deer hunting on Magee Marsh Wildlife Area are done on a controlled, hunt-by-permit basis. Youth waterfowl and deer hunts are also offered, by permit, during the special youth hunt weekends and the first Saturday of waterfowl season. Application forms for these controlled hunts are available at WildOhio.com. Controlled furbearer trapping and special youth trapping opportunities are allowed on Magee Marsh by permit. Information and bidding requirements may be obtained by contacting Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.
PUBLIC USE FACILITIES
A small boat ramp at the Turtle Creek fishing access provides access to Lake Erie, and a parking lot for anglers is also located there. Located at the beach, there are several parking lots available for anglers looking for ice fishing opportunities on Lake Erie. The Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center, built in 1970, houses a comfortable lounge with a fireplace, various displays depicting the history of Magee Marsh, and is surrounded by a display pond full of fish, frogs, turtles, and snakes. A walking trail and 42-foot observation deck near the bird center gives a commanding view of the display ponds, marsh and lake.
The accessible Sportsmen’s Migratory Bird Center is open year-round, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday during the spring and summer from 11:00 am - 5:00 p.m. The accessible boardwalk bird trail and entire wildlife area are also open year-round from dawn to dusk. Restricted hours do apply during the controlled waterfowl hunts that are carried out on Magee Marsh from early October through early December. For further information, write the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, 13229 West State Route 2, Oak Harbor, Ohio 43449, or call (419)898-0960. Information may also be obtained from the Division of Wildlife’s District Two Office at 952 Lima Avenue, Findlay, OH 45840; telephone (419)424-5000.
For birding events, counts, and detailed information, visit the Friends of Magee Marsh Web site.
TURN IN A POACHER
Ohio’s TIP, “Turn In a Poacher,” program is helping to curtail poaching throughout the state. TIP is designed to involve the public in reporting wildlife violations. Citizens who observe wildlife violations should call the TIP toll-free hotline, 1-800-POACHER.
Return to list of northwest Ohio wildlife area maps.