Nature

Photographing the Spring Bird Migration at Magee Marsh

Magee Marsh in Northwest Ohio is a popular spot for both photographers and birders during for spring bird migration.  Birders and photographers visit Magee Marsh from around the world during the spring bird migration.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Magee Marsh is a swampy area along the shore of Lake Erie with abundant woodlands for migrating birds.  Magee is especially known for the number and variety of migrating warblers heading north to nest in Canada.

The spring songbird migration is weather dependent but generally occurs in the mid April thru May timeframe.  Magee Marsh can be very crowded during May.  In fact, the Biggest Week in American Birding festival is held at Magee Marsh during mid May.  If you don’t like crowds, it’s best to avoid Magee during this week.  For photography, I like to visit Magee earlier in the migration.  There may be less birds but there is normally less people and you can get clearer shots before the leaves fully sprout on the trees.
 
Yellow Rumped Warbler\
Yellow Rumped Warbler
 
The most popular spot at Magee Marsh is the ½ mile long boardwalk that winds its way through the marshland and forest.  There are also several other trails at Magee Marsh including a beach trail that runs along Lake Erie.  This can be a good trail for shore birds and also has a forest area for song birds and warblers.  The parking lot by the boardwalk can also be a good place to photograph warblers.  It can be less crowded and has better lighting for photographs.
 
Black and White Warbler
 
I generally use my Canon 500mm f/4 lens at Magee.  I also bring my 1.4x teleconverter but normally don’t use it on the boardwalk.  You can get some very close photo opportunities for birds on the boardwalk and the Canon 500mm and 1.4x can be too close at times.  A Better Beemer or other flash extender can also be useful photographing on the boardwalk to add a touch of light or catch light to the birds.
 

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