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Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Oak Harbor

#47 of 110 in Wildlife in Ohio
Observation Deck · Nature / Park

Located in the remnants of the once vast Great Black Swamp region of Northwest Ohio, Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to inspire the appreciation, enjoyment and conservation of birds and their habitats through research, education and outreach. BSBO is based in northwest Ohio, but our work has national and international reach. The Observatory’s work made possible through the support of more than 200 volunteers, and funded by members, donors, and grants.


BSBO was founded in 1992 by a group of biologists who were studying bird migration in northwest Ohio. Having collected several years of data, they recognized the need for an organization to help disseminate their research findings. BSBO data has been used to assist both private and governmental land owners in better managing their properties for migratory bird species. To date, BSBO researchers have banded more than 550,000 birds, comprising one of the largest songbird migration databases in the nation. Our research projects also offer opportunities for citizen science, allowing volunteers to work side-by-side with trained ornithologists and biologists.


The Observatory has a strong focus on youth education as highlighted by our Wetland Investigation Network (WIN) program, which offers students grades K-12 a day- long exploration of the entire marsh ecosystem. And our highly acclaimed Ohio Young Birders Club (OYBC), for ages 12-18. The OYBC seeks to encourage, educate, and empower our youth conservation leaders. The OYBC has served as a model program for many other state-wide youth birding clubs.


BSBO also organizes and hosts the Biggest Week In American Birding: a 10-day birding festival timed to coincide with the peak of spring songbird migration in early May. The festival serves a powerful marketing tool for the region, helping to bring more than 70,000 birders here each spring. Our post-event economic impact study shows that birders spend more than 37 million dollars in the area from mid-April to mid-May.


BSBO’s outreach to the business community through our Black Swamp Birds & Business Alliance program helps market participating business to birders around the world. The B&B Alliance also serves to build support for habitat conservation raising awareness of the economic value of birding tourism.
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Black Swamp Bird Observatory reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
27 reviews
  • The Boardwalk was closed through the beginning of the pandemic, so I was only able to observe certain migrating birds later in the seasons. Even so, it was a fun trip and I even found an owl!  more »
  • This was our favorite trail! 1.6 miles of boardwalk that's wheelchair, & stroller accessible. Summer, however, is not the time to go. Lots of vegetation blocks out views of the marsh. There were lots....  more »
  • You won't find a more dedicated crew to birding in conservation than this group here. Spring and fall migration is the busy time. however this is the stop off from many different breeds of birds. definitely a good stop for a day trip if you have 10 hours to spend.
  • I almost don't want to say how great this place is....I love the solitude of this place

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