OBS is a destination for all lovers of nature
Mansfield, Ohio is home to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary. When prospective visitors hear the name, they may think it’s just about birds, but the Ohio Bird Sanctuary encompasses many different attractions and is perfect for those who enjoy any aspect of the outdoors. This beautiful, Richland County property contains a Visitor Center, songbird aviary, hiking trails, and a natural play area. OBS really mimics a nature preserve – it’s not one of those “touristy” places to visit, it feels like gathering with the birds in their natural habitat.
The Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that began in 1988. Since then they have outgrown the original property, added an octagonal flight cage, and, the newest addition – a treehouse classroom built by Nelson Treehouses. (The treehouse is not typically open to visitors – it is used for educational programming).
This is not just a travel destination though, OBS is a quality rehabilitation place for many sick or injured birds.
Here’s what to expect on your visit to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary
The Visitor Center is your first stop for getting acclimated to the Bird Sanctuary. The Visitor Center is home to a few animals (turtles, an owl, and last time we visited – a chicken), but it’s also the place to pay for your visit to the bird enclosures. If you have little ones, you’ll want to stop by the educational room, where kids can play with animal-oriented toys and pick up their scavenger hunt.
Songbird Aviary & Live Bird Displays
Visiting the Ohio Bird Sanctuary isn’t complete without a visit to the Songbird Aviary and bird display area. Of course, our favorite is the bald eagles – yes, the sanctuary is home to these majestic birds. The kids also enjoy seeing the owls and “talking” to the crow.
The Songbird Aviary is popular with all ages – although I’m a bit skittish about the mealworms that OBS provides for feeding. Yes, the feed cup is moving. #nothankyou I’m thankful for a son to hold mine! Ha!
The OBS offers many educational programs for families – including field trips, summer camp, outreach programs (they bring the birds to you), and homeschooling programs. Membership to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary allows you to be the first to sign up for these programs.
We’ve now hiked all of the trails at OBS, and my favorite has to be the Wood Duck Trail because it passes through the wetlands of the property. In the spring, this is the place to find the forest floor coming to life with skunk cabbage. Make sure you wear proper footwear, as we weren’t prepared on the last trip and my van was covered in mud. Oops! Find a trail map here.
Also, all of the trails are less than a mile, so they are perfect for kids who may not be able to handle long distances. After your hike, there are picnic tables near the parking lot.
Our kid’s favorite part of the Bird Sanctuary is the Naturescape. Kids can climb in a spider web, measured their wingspan compared to the birds of prey, race across tree stumps, or suspend from a tightrope. It’s a great way for kids to be active and imaginative – and it’s a healthy break for mom to breathe in the peaceful surroundings. 😉
If you’re looking for more places to play – check out my list of the best playgrounds in Mansfield and its surrounds.
Before you go:
First-time visitors to the Sanctuary need to know that the Ohio Bird Sanctuary is located at 3774 Orweiler Rd, Mansfield, OH 44903, and is open every day except Mondays and Holidays. The Sanctuary closes each day at 4 pm and visitors must be off of the trails and out of the parking lot by that time. With this in mind, I’d allow 2 hours for a first-time visit. OBS limits the number of visitors each day, so once the parking lot is full, the sanctuary will not allow more visitors, so visiting early in the day ensures that you get a spot!
Admission is currently $5/adults and $3/children over 2. The only cost is for the bird enclosure and songbird aviary – the hiking trails and playscape are free!
If you live nearby, I definitely recommend getting a membership, especially if you have children who would enjoy coming back frequently. I purchased our membership from a local radio station’s deal website- you can check out the WMFD deals page here.
Hotels closest to the Ohio Bird Sanctuary: I’d recommend staying at the Fairfield Inn & Suites or the Towneplace Suites. And while you are visiting, here is my list of the best places to eat in Mansfield and things to do with kids in Mansfield. For more things to do in nature, check out Malabar Farm State Park and Mohican State Park.
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