International Migratory Bird Day, an annual celebration of the seasonal flyers that pass through North America, happens this year on Saturday, May 10. Be sure to check out this week's Venture column in Alive for my feature on Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, perhaps the best place in the state to see warblers and raptors. It takes more than two hours to get from Columbus to Oak Harbor, where Magee is located, so I've designed a day trip that should allow you to spot numerous species along the way.

Thanks so much to Mike Williams, the staff photog for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who took me on this fantastic voyage on Monday. Here you go:

International Migratory Bird Day, an annual celebration of the seasonal flyers that pass through North America, happens this year on Saturday, May 10. Be sure to check out this week's Venture column in Alive for my feature on Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, perhaps the best place in the state to see warblers and raptors. It takes more than two hours to get from Columbus to Oak Harbor, where Magee is located, so I've designed a day trip that should allow you to spot numerous species along the way.

Thanks so much to Mike Williams, the staff photog for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, who took me on this fantastic voyage on Monday. Here you go:

Start Downtown at the Scioto Audubon Metro Park, 395 W. Whittier St. View larger image This is one of the best local spots for warblers and other species that live all year in Ohio. As you know, this is my No. 1 spot, where I've honed my craft into well-practiced novice status. Take the mile-long riverside trail and check out the wetland system already in progress. Info Now get on I-71 at Greenlawn Avenue and head north. Take OH-61 North, then OH-229 West. Before you reach OH-23, you'll see a turnoff for the Delaware State Wildlife Area. View larger image This is a great place to see shorebirds during the summer, when lower water levels reveal mudflats that killdeer, plovers and other species can't resist. Also, several osprey hack nests, large platforms on towers, are occupied. There's a good chance you'll see one of these amazing raptors. Info Continue on OH-229 West to US-23 North. You'll be on this section for most of the trip, so be sure to watch for American kestrels, red-winged blackbirds and other species along the roadside. Near Tiffin, take OH-53 North to OH-19 North. Past the town of Oak Harbor, there will be an entrance to Toussaint State Wildlife Area. View larger image This preserve has acres of prairie grasses, making it prime real estate for blackbirds, sparrows and other more common species. There's an inlet that comes from Lake Erie, so waterfowl also is common. Info From here, keep heading north on OH-19 until it ends at OH-2. Turn left and then look for the entrace to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. This was formerly known as Crane Creek State Park. View larger image First head to the visitors center, which has plenty of info, guides, maps, a gift shop and more. Watch for swallows and waterfowl flying around the front lake. Then hit the nearby observation tower to catch some raptors in flight. The numbers have died down some, but you can still see hawks, eagles and more. There's also a great trail. Now head back to the boardwalk trail, the epicenter of migratory season. Park in the lakefront lot and get out your binoculars. You won't be disappointed. On Monday, I saw palm, yellow, yellow-rumped, magnolia, black-throated blue and many other warblers. I also spotted the marsh wren, gray catbird, Baltimore oriole and scores more. Info On your way out, check out the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, a non-profit nature group with an awesome gift shop, very nice people and a few short trails. After leaving Magee, head back out to OH-2. Turn right and watch for the entrance to the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on your right. View larger image Connected and closely related to Magee, this refuge has miles of hiking trails and a brand-new visitors lodge. It's something. Info