Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
14000 West OH-2
Oak Harbor, Ohio 43449
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge website
Friends of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge webpage
eBird Bar Charts by Season
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge spans two counties. The south portion of the refuge (near OH-2) is in Ottawa County. The north portion of the refuge (near Lake Erie) is in Lucas County. (See map below for the location of the Lucas/Ottawa county line.) For birders who are careful about keeping county bird lists, be aware of the location of the county line at Ottawa NWR and submit sightings of birds to hotspots in the proper county.
Use this hotspot for checklists of birds seen at various locations in the Lucas County section of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Whenever possible, please use more specific hotspot locations.
Use this hotspot for checklists of birds seen at various locations in the Ottawa County section of Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge. Whenever possible, please use more specific hotspot locations.
Please be safe. It is never safe to stop your car on OH-2 in this area. State and local police ticket drivers pulled over to the side of this highway.
Ohio Birding Day Hikes
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Trails
There are ten miles of hiking trails. These trails travel through a variety of habitats.
Visitor Center parking lot:
+ Walking Trails Woodland
from boardwalk trail behind Visitor Center
Trail Head parking lot near the Show Pool:
+ Walking Trails Pools
from the west side of the dike by the Show Pool
+ Pool 1 Trail
from the east side of the dike by the Show Pool
From Magee Marsh:
+ Crane Creek Estuary Trail
from the west end of the Boardwalk parking lot
+ Gallagher Trail
adjacent to the Black Swamp Bird Observatory office
+ Woodies Roost Trail
from the Bird Center parking lot on the east side of the road to the Causeway
+ Ottawa-Magee Marsh Partnership Trail
from south of the Bird Center parking lot on the west side of the road to the Causeway
From Metzger Marsh
+ Metzger Marsh Partnership Trail
from the outer dike – this is an out and back trail
Tips for birding Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
The main division of the ONWR complex has 4,683 acres managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service from a headquarters building located adjacent to a public parking lot located at the end of the entrance road from OH-2. This area has nine miles of improved stone-base public trails. A kiosk in the parking lot has maps and bird checklists. Walk north on the trail from the parking lot and you will eventually reach Crane Creek and its estuary. Ducks, shorebirds, marsh birds, wading birds and some perching birds can be viewed in the impoundments along the way. The Crane Creek estuary is the best place to see both adult and immature Bald Eagles. Although woodlands are scarce there are two woodlots that provide warblers, vireos and other perching birds during migration. There are grasslands accessible between the parking lot and OH-2, which can provide members of the blackbird and sparrow families. A newer trail runs east/west and connects ONWR with the Magee Marsh causeway. Look for it on the east side of the driveway to the headquarters building.
From Oak Harbor go north on OH-19 for 6 miles to OH-2. Turn west and drive 3 miles to the Refuge entrance.
Sunrise to sunset throughout the year. Headquarters and bookstore open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. The bookstore also has gifts and toys.
The main parking lot is at the end of the entrance road off of OH-2.
There are two good ways of entering closed areas legally without a permit. 1. Attend the monthly bird survey on the first Sunday of every month at 8:00 a.m. starting from the Refuge main parking lot. 2. Attend the monthly Refuge auto tour through the closed areas. See the ONWRA website for schedule.
From Ohio Ornithological Society
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is a stop on the Lake Erie Birding Trail.
Birds of Interest by Season
Northern Shrikes, Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, Bald Eagles.
Ducks (including Eurasian Wigeons), Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, migrating raptors, marsh birds.
Common Moorhens, Common/Black Terns, Snowy Egrets, Bald Eagles, shorebirds, bitterns.
Bald Eagles, most duck species, shorebirds.
About Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge spans two counties. The northern part of the refuge is in Lucas County and the southern part is in Ottawa County.
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge provides valuable habitat for a diversity of waterfowl and other migratory birds, resident wildlife, and endangered and threatened species. It provides a place for people to enjoy wildlife-dependent activities and learn about the complexities of the natural world through education and interpretive programming.
Ottawa Refuge is located in northwest Ohio. The entrance is located 15 miles east of Toledo, Ohio or 16 miles west of Port Clinton, Ohio on OH-2. The entrance road is located on the north side of OH-2.
Visitors should stop at the visitor center which opened in 2007. This beautiful lodge style building welcomes you and tells the refuge story. The building is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
There are ten miles of hiking trails. These trails travel through a variety of habitats and start behind the visitor center or from the trailhead parking lot.
The refuge wildlife drive is open on scheduled days from 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The wildlife drive allows vehicles to travel through areas of the refuge not otherwise open to the general public. See the calendar of events for open dates.
From Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge webpage
Restrooms at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge are available at the Visitor Center (flush toilets) and at the parking lot for trails (non-flush toilets).
The Visitor Center, nearby trail, and bird viewing blind are handicap accessible. The Wildlife Drive provides opportunity to view birds from a vehicle.
Reporting Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Drive Bird Checklists on eBird
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge Wildlife Drive map
If you wish to report your bird sightings to eBird (https://ebird.org) from the Wildlife Drive at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, there are two eBird Hotspots to receive your reports:
The south portion of the Wildlife Drive is in Ottawa County, the north portion is in Lucas County. You are on the county line when the Wildlife Drive turns right (east) on Ottawa-Lucas Rd.
Please, keep two checklists of birds you see, one for each portion of the Wildlife Drive. The section in Ottawa County is about 2.4 miles; the section in Lucas County is 3 or more miles. eBird limits a “traveling” count to five miles or less and sorts your bird sightings by county, thus two “hotspots” to report your sightings. Sometimes the route of the Wildlife Drive varies, so you might want to set your odometer to record the actual miles you cover for each section.