Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area

Shreve, Ohio 44676
Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area webpage
Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area map

Also, see Killbuck Valley Important Bird Area, Killbuck Marsh Birding Drive, and Killbuck Marsh to Funk Bottoms Birding Drive

Bar Charts by Season by Month
All Months
Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb
Spring Summer Fall Winter

eBird Hotspots
Please note that Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area spans the Wayne-Holmes county line. There is no general hotspot for all of Killbuck Marsh as multi-county checklists are not permitted in eBird. There are county hotspots in each county. Birders may use these for checklists of birds seen in the county at several stops or at a location for which there is not a sub-location.

Wayne County

Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area (Wayne Co.)
Coordinates: 40.6936548, -81.9875336
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Cemetery Rd.
Coordinates: 40.7011092, -82.0050111
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Clark Rd.
Coordinates: 40.6988608, -81.972084
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Force Rd. East
Coordinates: 40.6833542, -81.9566422
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Force Rd. West
Coordinates: 40.6824619, -81.9682861
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Messner Rd.
Coordinates: 40.7331418, -81.9656038
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Moore Marsh
Coordinates: 40.7344656, -81.9754891
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Railroad @ Willow Rd.
Coordinates: 40.7144438, -81.9923615
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Valley Rd. North
Coordinates: 40.7259123, -81.972084
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Valley Rd. South
Coordinates: 40.6903032, -81.9808066
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Willow Rd.
Coordinates: 40.7054978, -81.9824696
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Wright Marsh
Coordinates: 40.728056, -81.982795
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Holmes County

Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area (Holmes Co.)
Coordinates: 40.6604023, -81.9533835
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Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area–Butler Spring
Coordinates: 40.646399, -81.938561
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Tips for birding Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area
The Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area is located in both Wayne and Holmes Counties in “Amish Country”. At over 5000 acres, it is the largest inland marsh in Ohio. First-time visitors will probably need a map to get around. Maps can be picked up at the wildlife station or found at the web-site listed above.

To start at the northwest corner of the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife, take OH-3 south from Wooster and veer left to get on OH-226. Turn left onto Carrie Lane (formally Messner Road), which dead-ends into a parking area with walking access to Wright Marsh. In the spring, huge rafts of ducks can often be seen here. Remember to stay off the private property that borders the wildlife area.

Return to OH-226 and travel south less than a half mile. Turn left into the Wright Marsh parking lot. From here you can walk to several impoundments. During migration, look for waterfowl and shorebirds.

Continue on OH-226 and turn left onto Willow Road. At the railroad tracks there are parking areas that overlook impoundments on the left and a private duck-hunting area on the right.

Crossing the railroad tracks, look for Prothonotary Warblers and Red-shouldered Hawks in the woods along this stretch of road. Continue on Willow Road, which turns to the right and becomes a gravel road (the paved road straight ahead is called Kimber Road from this point). This is a good road to look for passerines. There is a parking area on the right where you can pick up a primitive walking trail.

Continue on Willow Road. At the top of the hill, go straight ahead and the road merges with Valley Road. You will come to large open area of water on the left just before reaching Clark Road. This spot hosts waterfowl, warblers, vireos, and both orioles. Black Terns often come through here during migration. When the water level is low, look for shorebirds.

Turn left onto Clark Road. At the first crossroads, turn right onto OH-83. At the first right, turn onto Force Road. After passing through private property, you will reach the wildlife area. This road is often very rough. Look for Yellow-breasted Chats, White-eyed Vireos and Wild Turkeys. There is a parking area just before a small bridge. At the water, nesting Hooded Mergansers and Common Moorhens are possible. This road dead-ends at the Killbuck Creek and this final stretch of road to the river is occasionally totally underwater and impassible. The left (south) side of the road is a refuge and is closed to the public.

Return to OH-83 and turn right. Then turn right onto County Line Road (also known at Centerville Road). At the first parking area on the left, you can pick up a primitive walking trail. A few hundred feet down the road, check near the bridge for nesting Yellow-throated and Prothonotary Warblers. In winter, look for Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Continue on County Line Road. Along this stretch, watch for Sandhill Cranes and Wild Turkeys. The lane to Killbuck Marsh wildlife station is a few miles up the road on the right. A box at the beginning of the lane holds maps of the area.

Continue on County Line Road until you reach Shreve Eastern Road, which veers to the right, then make another immediate right onto Valley Road. Turn right onto Force Road (a sign here reads No Outlet). At the bottom of the hill is a parking area. From here it’s a short walk along the road to the spot where you can see the Bald Eagle nest in the closed refuge, on the right side of the road. Other nesters in this area include Red-headed Woodpeckers, Marsh Wrens, Willow Flycatchers, and Sandhill Cranes. Force Road dead-ends at the Killbuck Creek, so you will have to go back up Force Road and turn right onto Valley Road, which makes another right at the top of the hill.

At the bottom of the hill on this section of Valley Road is a large, open marsh dominated by Marsh Wrens. This is also a good spot for Virginia Rails and Soras. As you approach the Killbuck Creek, turn around in one of the parking areas as the bridge is currently closed (this bridge is due to reopen sometime in 2004).

Returning to the top of the hill, turn right onto Force Road, then right on to Cemetery Road. You will come to a large wetland area on the corner of Cemetery Road and SR 226 that attracts large numbers of waterfowl. There is a small parking area on the right. A spotting scope will be helpful at this spot.

Turn right onto OH-226 and check Shreve Fish Pond, the private pond directly across from the Wright Marsh Parking Area. When the water is low in the spring and fall, this can be quite a hot-spot for shorebirds. Continue north on SR 226 and check out the pond behind the Pine Tree Barn for waterfowl. This is also private property.

Turn right onto Valley Road. Just before the railroad track and bridge is the Moore Marsh parking area. Check out the impoundments for water birds. Northern Rough-winged Swallows usually nest under the bridge.

Crossing the railroad track and bridge, you can turn right on Valley Road, which will eventually take you back to the Clark Road area, or make a left turn onto Messner Road. Most years this bottomland hosts nesting Brown Creepers, Prothonotary Warblers, and Red-shouldered Hawks. Red-headed Woodpeckers are usually easily found along this road.

At the next crossroads you will reach Prairie Lane. Turning left at Prairie Lane, towards Wooster, you will come to several lakes and marshland. This is all private property. Watch for fast moving traffic.

Turning right off Messner Road, Prairie Lane soon merges with OH-83. The Killbuck Marsh area runs for miles along this stretch in both Wayne and Holmes Counties. Most of the land along here is private property, so look for signs. After you pass County Line Road , there are several pull-offs. One of the pull-offs on the right, by an oil tank, has been a good place to see Sandhill Cranes. The next parking area south is beside Butler Spring; one of the few places in the area that has open water all winter.
From Ohio Ornithological Society

From BirdWatchingDaily website

Birds of Interest by Season
Winter
Check out Butler Spring, on SR 83, where there is open water for most of the winter.

Spring
An excellent area throughout for waterfowl and shorebirds. Black Terns sometimes show up on Clark Road and Wright Marsh.

Summer
Prothonotary Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chats, Hooded Mergansers, Bald Eagles, Sandhill Cranes, Wild Turkeys, Marsh Wrens, Brown Creepers, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, Orchard Orioles, Virginia Rails, Soras, and Common Moorhens are just some of the birds that nest most years at the Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area.

Fall
Also an excellent time and area for waterfowl and shorebirds. Black Terns sometimes show up on Clark Road and Wright Marsh.

About Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area
The 5,671-acre Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area is situated in northeastern Ohio in portions of Wayne and Holmes counties. The area extends north from Holmesville to three miles south of Wooster and lies between OH-83 on the east and OH-226 on the west.

The area is in a shallow, U-shaped glacial outwash valley. The elevation varies from 840 feet at the floor of Killbuck Creek near Holmesville to nearly 1,000 feet on hillsides parallel to the valley floor. About 56 percent of the acquisition unit consists of marsh and swamp that is flooded during some portion of the year. This complex is Ohio’s largest remaining marshland outside of the Lake Erie region.

Purchase of land for Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area began in 1969. Additional land is being acquired as funds become available. The wildlife management plan provides for maintenance and protection of the existing woodlands, the establishment of regular crop rotations, improvement of open fields for wildlife nesting by controlled burning and selective spraying, and the establishment of food patches for general wildlife use. Permanent wildlife cover has been provided by planting thousands of trees and shrubs. Wright’s Marsh, a 350-acre diked wetland off OH-226, was restored in partnership with Ducks Unlimited. Dikes and water control structures are being developed to increase and improve the wetland habitat on the area.
From Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area webpage

No restroom facilities.