Area Boasts Plenty of Sites to View Feathered Friends
Do you enjoy bright colors, looking for wildlife and adventures to new natural areas? If so, birding may be just right for you.
With over 250 bird species found in the Great Lakes Bay Region, there are plenty of opportunities to see a variety of birds nearby. The Saginaw Bay Watershed is the largest watershed in Michigan and encompasses 22 counties and 5.5 million acres. The Saginaw Bay coastline is the largest contiguous freshwater coastal wetland system in the United States and provides essential habitat for both migratory and resident birds.
Whether checking out peregrine falcons flying over downtown Bay City or walking the trails at Chippewa Nature Center searching for ducks and herons, there are always birds to view. While there are never bad places to find birds, green spaces next to water seem to attract the highest diversity of birds. Birders flock to birding hot spots, areas that are popular for both birds and the people who want to see them. The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail has over 35 different birding sites along Lake Huron and the Saginaw River.
The birding trail includes popular places like Nanyanquing Point State Game Area in Bay County, one of the most reliable spots to find yellow-headed blackbirds. In Saginaw County, Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge conserves 9,800 acres of marsh and is a great spot to see herons, egrets and waterfowl. During the summer months, it also offers a self-guided wildlife drive through the refuge that is especially great for those with limited mobility. Looking for snowy owls in the winter? Head out to Fish Point State Wildlife Area in Tuscola County for these winter visitors. Tawas State Park is the premier spot for spring songbird migration. During the middle of May when migration is at its peak, this area erupts with colorful birds such as orioles, tanagers and over 30 species of warblers.
Grab a pair of binoculars and get birding. With some of the best birding in the state, we’re lucky the Great Lakes Bay Region has an abundance of birds and places to find them.
Know Before You Go
- Binoculars are essential tools in viewing birds. While any binoculars will help, a good set of 8×42 binoculars are best. A decent set of binoculars usually cost anywhere from $20 to $50. The quality and clarity of the image improves if you are interested in investing more. For a more comfortable birding experience, try a binocular shoulder harness. These help distribute the binocular weight across the shoulders and prevent sore necks.
- While there are many different field guides to help with bird identification, smartphone apps are easy to use and provide other features that guidebooks don’t, such as recordings of bird calls. Audubon Birds or the Merlin Bird ID app are both free resources. For those new to identifying birds, the Merlin app is especially helpful. It walks the user through five simple questions, and then it generates a list of possible birds.
- Remember to be respectful of birds and other bird watchers. Give birds space and try to minimize human impact on birds’ daily activities.
- Looking to connect with other birders and learn from bird experts? Consider joining a local National Audubon Society chapter or attending a bird walk or field trip with Chippewa Nature Center Staff.