March 13, 2015 - As we move into spring and the start of migration season, I thought it would be a good time to share some information ...

ON LOCATION - Woodman Fen - Dayton, OH

March 13, 2015 -

As we move into spring and the start of migration season, I thought it would be a good time to share some information on a little park we love to visit in Dayton Ohio. The quintessential “Migrant Trap”. Hope to see you there!!

We all have our local patches. Perhaps it’s a place that only you know about, or maybe it used to be that way until word got out that it’s awesome. Jen Brumfield has Wendy Park. Chuck Slusarczyk Jr patrols the Scranton Flats. Jeff Loughman – Findley Res.

For me and the rest of the Rogue Birders it has been Woodman Fen in Dayton, OH.

Woodman Fen is a small (33 acres) wetland restoration area managed by Five Rivers MetroParks. It has a short out-and back boardwalk and a 0.6 mile loop trail. The boardwalk is nice, but the loop is where you want to go for the birds.

Be aware, the loop is messy. According to the Fiver Rivers MetroParks website, “The majority of Woodman Fen is covered by up to six feet of black muck and peat”. Yeah – It’s awesome!

When I first started birding at Woodman Fen in 2013 no one else seemed to go there. It wasn’t an eBird “Hotspot”. It was just a small wooded area tucked in between the houses on the east side of Dayton. Finding it can be difficult. If you have been to Wake Robin at Metzger you should understand: It is house – house – house – parking area – house – house – house.

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
On my first visit I recorded my Lifer Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (#111). I still remember how excited I was to see this little bird that that I hadn’t known existed other than what I had read online the day before. That was enough to keep me coming back for a while. Over the next month I added Brown Thrasher, Great Crested Flycatcher, and Eastern Wood-Pewee to my Lifelist. Other highlights included Scarlet Tanager, Blue-Headed Vireo, Northern Parula, and Indigo Bunting.

A cool spot, for sure! But, instead of really exploring the place, I started looking for new places to go and kind of forgot about Woodman Fen. May 15th was my last checklist from there in 2013, and I wouldn’t return until April of 2014. Soon after, everyone discovered what a true Hotspot the park was.

Great-Horned Owl
April 7, 2014. In between Rogue Birder trips I decided to stop by Woodman Fen for an hour. It hadn’t changed much; a couple of dog-walkers on the boardwalk, gooey and muddy on the trail. A Fox Sparrow and both kinglets were the highlight of the hour. And then I saw it. No, saw “them”! Two Great-Horned Owls had decided to pay a visit to the park. No matter how long you have been birding, and no matter how many times you have seen them, discovering an owl is always a wonderful experience. This was the first time I had found my own. I took a few photos and left happy, planning to return soon to see what else would show up.

Two weeks later the migrants came…

April 19 – Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
April 24 – Blue-Headed Vireo, Northern Parula, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler
April 25 – Worm-Eating Warbler, Hooded Warbler,
April 26 – Yellow-Throated Vireo, Blue-Headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Worm-Eating, Black-And-White, Tennessee, Nashville, Palm, Yellow-Rumped, Yellow-Throated, Black-Throated Green, and a CeruleanWarbler found by Jason Sullivan!!!
Cerulean Warbler - First seen by Jason Sullivan
They kept coming: Blackburnian Warbler, Louisiana and Northern Waterthrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, Red-Eyed Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Veery, Gray-Cheecked Thrush, American Redstart, Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher, Ovenbird, Pine Warbler, Bay-Breasted Warbler...
Hooded Warbler
All of these birds were seen during a too-short three-week period in the spring at The Fen. It was as if Magee Marsh had been transported to Dayton.

There was a Wood Thrush and a Canada Warbler, first reported by Greg Sagasser; a Common Yellowthroat, White-Eyed Vireo, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Solitary Sandpiper by Jason Sullivan; Blackpoll Warbler by Jacob Roalef; Summer Tanager and Wilson’s Warbler by Stefan Minnig; Black-Billed Cuckoo reported by both Chris Zacharias and Dan Enders; and a Mourning Warbler(!!!) by Jeff Bartosik. – Yes, this is a Rogue Birder spot!
Black-Billed Cuckoo - Photo D. Enders
Summer was brutal at the Fen. There were few birds and lots of ticks. Nothing to see here, move along… to fall!!

Tennessee Warbler - Photo S. Minnig
In the fall it happens all over again. The migrants storm The Fen. Yellow-Breasted Chat, Orange-Crowned Warbler, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Black-Throated Blue, Eastern Whip-poor-will were all seen (or heard) in the fall, as well as many of those that had been seen in the spring. Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds all over the place! Many of the migrating species were still being reported in late October.

Purple Finch
While chasing those late October migrants, Jeff Bartosik spotted both Pine Siskins and Purple Finches; two more new Fen birds. I can’t wait to see what we discover this year!

Woodman Fen
2490 Newcastle Dr.
Dayton, OH 45420
Handicap accessible boardwalk and hiking trail
Park landmarks: "The Hill"; First, Second, and Third Bridge, "The Houses", "The Tracks"
List of Species (eBird)

NOTE TO HUNGRY BIRDERS: Just down the street from Woodman Fen is the best local pretzel shop in Dayton, K and R Pretzel Bakery. They are so good that my wife doesn't mind if I go birding at The Fen because I always bring her pretzels afterward. Stop in and grab a bag!

Pretzels... 80 cents each!

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  1. Thanks so much for the post- I had no idea it was such a bird hotspot. I went there to get out of the city without getting out of the city. Will definately check out the pretzel shop- did not know about that one either!


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