I have an eight-year-old who is obsessed with eagles. He’s pretty interested in all other kinds of raptors, too. So when I heard that the Ohio Bird Sanctuary was about 2 1/2 hours away from us in north central Ohio, we thought it was worth a trip!
And it was!
(OK, we stopped overnight at a friend’s house, too, so it was REALLY worth the trip!)
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary Mission
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary rescues all kinds of birds, and, whenever possible, releases them back into the wild. Birds who would not survive in the wild remain at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary and are used in educational demonstrations, on display at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary or on educational outreach throughout the area.
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary has a hospitable visitors’ center, and the short tour of the birds begins right out the visitor center’s back door. Birds that sustained permanent damage and are no longer able to survive on their own in the wild are housed in roomy cages (usually with a buddy of their own species). The cages are well labeled, describing the birds housed there, characteristics of their species, and then specifics about how these particular birds were brought to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary, how old they are, and what injuries they sustained to keep them from living in the wild. In all, there were probably 15-20 cages.
In one hawk cage, we watched as one of the women who works at the Sanctuary trained a hawk to come to her glove when she entered his cage. This winter, she will be bringing this hawk with her to schools for educational demonstrations, so she spends months getting him used to sitting on her hand, and remaining calm around people.
When we paid admission, the lady at the desk asked if we wanted small cups with nuts, seeds, and worms to feed the birds for an additional quarter. There is a small aviary for songbirds that visitors may enter, and there we were able to feed the birds–right out of our cups! We were warned to keep a tight hold on the cups, because the blue jays have gotten smart and have begun yanking the cups away from visitors! I found the blue jays delightful. For those who don’t want birds eating right out of their hands, there are chickens who would love to have food thrown to them!
NatureScape Play Area
For larger groups, the Ohio Bird Sanctuary has an educational center. Right in front of this building is a small playground. But it isn’t a playground with typical playground equipment. Kids can measure their wingspans, and compare them with the wingspans of larger birds. The “bird on a wire” activity encourages kids to walk across a rope bridge. (Electrocution is one of the main reasons that birds end up in the Ohio Bird Sanctuary.) A tunnel is placed in the middle of a circle of trees for kids to slide down. They have a giant weaving loom, a giant spider web, and a giant eagles’ nest for kids to explore. My kids were the only three kids present the day we went, but we had an excellent time!
One of the main reasons I had for visiting the Ohio Bird Sanctuary was the four miles of trails that the Sanctuary maintains on their 90 acres. I heard that the trails are lovely, and I was really looking forward to exploring them. However, I had a very crabby three-year-old on my hands by the time we finished watching all the birds, wandering through the aviary, and playing at the Nature Scape Play Area.
So we had to skip the trails.
But we’ll be back (with a good stroller) to wander those trails some day!
Upon arrival, all visitors should stop at the visitors’ center to pay admission (or sign in, for members). There is one hawk on display in the visitors’ center, a box turtle outside, and a hands-on activity with animal tracks that fascinated my kids by the front door.
They sell shirts, water bottles, bird figurines and stuffed animals at the visitors’ center.
After wandering outside, we held off a meltdown by the crabby three-year-old with some time in the children’s area, a small room with books, a huge chalkboard, puzzles, and a few other nature-related activities for very young children.
Mercifully, there are also restrooms in the visitors’ center.
For the inquisitive, it’s possible to peek over half-doors to see where rescuerers work with the birds.
Without wandering the trails, it’s a quick little trip, but the Ohio Bird Sanctuary was very well organized, varied, and we though it well worth the trip!
Not to mention, for the eagle-obsessed eight-year-old, he got to see eagles, hawks, and owls close up! It’s not every day that we can boast seeing some impressive raptors!
Hours and Admission
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Admission is very accessible at $1 for children and $3 for adults.
For those wanting to better support the Ohio Bird Sanctuary’s mission of rehabilitation and education, they have a membership program, which starts at $25–although they certainly welcome donations above $25, too!
Where Is the Ohio Bird Sanctuary?
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary is located just east of Mansfield, Ohio (right between Mansfield and Galion). For easier directions, click here for a map!
But, to load in your GPS, the address is:
The Ohio Bird Sanctuary 3774 Orweiler Rd. Mansfield, OH 44903