Oak Hammock Marsh is one of North American birding hot spots and a must-see for any birding adventure. More than 100 species of birds breed in or near the marsh, and some 300 species have been recorded here. During migration, the number of waterfowl using the marsh can exceed 100,000 daily.
The marsh is part of a Wildlife Management Area that includes the restored marsh, aspen-oak bluff, artesian springs, remnants of tallgrass prairie and 30 kilometres of trails. Several gravel islands called loafing bars have been created in the marsh near viewing blinds and trails to provide excellent viewing opportunities.
In spring, ducks, warblers, and shorebirds are abundant. Summer is great for ducks and ducklings and marsh specialties like shorebirds, grebes, rails, herons, American Bitterns, American Coot, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Marsh wren, Franklin’s Gull, and Black tern.
Fall is extraordinary for large numbers of ducks, geese, and shorebirds. The birding continues until freeze-up in November. In winter look for Common Redpoll, Snow Bunting, and the majestic Snowy Owl.
There are several Trails and Birding Sites to visit at Oak Hammock Marsh
The trails around the interpretive centre where you may see American Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Forster’s Tern, Black Tern, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. A wide variety of dabbling and diving ducks, American Coot and Pied-billed Grebe can be seen in the open water.
You might see swallows including Bank, Barn, Tree, and Cliff sitting and sometimes nesting on the building. The observation deck on the roof is a great place for watching the geese during fall migration.
Main Observation Mound where you can get above the cattails and look out over the marsh to see a variety of ducks, gulls, and, at times, Western Grebe and Tundra Swan. At the base of the mound, look for Brown-headed Cowbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Brewer’s Blackbird. On the gravel islands and mudflats, look for a variety of shorebirds. Bald Eagles are often seen here in the fall.
Tall Grass Prairie Trail (1 kilometre) gives you a taste of prairie habitat and its species. Look and listen for Western Meadowlark and Bobolink.