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Birding Crawford County: Hotspots near Grayling

 

(A) Shupac Lake SF Campground ★

Shupac Lake State Forest Campground operates on a first come, first served basis, and is managed by the staff of Hartwick Pines State Park. At 99 acres in size, Shupac Lake is large enough to attract Common Loons, Pied-billed Grebes, and many kinds of ducks.

Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

Pied-billed GrebePied-billed Grebe

 

(B) Jones Lake State Forest Campground ★

Overlooking a large lake, Jones Lake State Forest Campground is a short distance away from Hartwick Pines State Park. The lake is a good place to look for Common Loons, Bald Eagles, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and other northern species of birds.

Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

 

(C) Hartwick Pines State Park ★★

Famous for hosting one of the last remaining virgin tracts of White Pines, Hartwick Pines State Park is home to some of the tallest trees in the state. A few years ago, a wind storm knocked many of the pines over, but visitors will still be able to enjoy the few giants remaining.

The first place birders should visit is the nature center, where Red-breasted Nuthatches can be seen quickly darting to and from the feeders. In the early springtime, large flocks of Evening Grosbeaks congregate outside of the visitor center. Birders looking to add some avian variety to their visit should walk the Ski / Bike trail, which leads to an area with grassy meadows.

Website: michigan.gov/hartwickpines | Map: Click here
Phone: (989) 348-7068
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

Evening GrosbeakEvening Grosbeak

 

(D) Dyer Swamp ★

Dyer Swamp is a large wetland area that is visible from the road. Many kinds of birds can be seen during the warm months. There is no parking area available—be sure to leave the car as far off the road as possible.

Directions: Click here

 

(E) Rainbow Bend SF Campground ★

Positioned on the banks of the Au Sable River, the densely packed terrain surrounding Rainbow Bend State Forest Campground provides habitat for Red-breasted Nuthatches, Great-crested Flycatchers, and many other birds. Operated on a first come, first served basis, the seven primitive campsites are managed by the staff of Hartwick Pines State Park.

Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

Great-crested FlycatcherGreat-crested Flycatcher

 

(F) Wakeley Lake Foot Travel Area ★★

Wakeley Lake Foot Travel Area protects 2,000 acres of natural habitat, precisely threaded by a series of hiking trails. Covering 95 acres of open water, Wakeley Lake is a shallow, marshy affair surrounded by willows, tag alder, and other shrubs.

On the east side of the lake, a mature red and white pine forest provides shelter & food for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other birds. There is a small campground located next to the lake which fills quickly during the warm months.

Website: goo.gl/BXESGa
Directions: Click here

(G) Kneff Lake Campground ★

Located within the boundaries of Huron National Forest, 22-acre Kneff Lake is accessible from a campground. There are 27 campsites available, all of which have tables and fire rings. Two species commonly seen in the area are Red-breasted Nuthatches and Hairy Woodpeckers. The campground is managed by the Mio Ranger Station.

Website: goo.gl/jZHtiW
Directions: Click here

Red-breasted NuthatchRed-breasted Nuthatch

 

(H) Burton's Landing ★

Positioned on the banks of the beautiful Au Sable River, Burton’s Landing hosts a small state forest campground with 12 campsites. A wide variety of birds can be seen at the landing in May, including Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Black-billed Cuckoos, and Blue-headed Vireos.

Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

 

(I) Camp Au Sable ★★

Camp Au Sable is a private Seventh-day Adventist summer camp highlighted by a boardwalk circling Lake Shellenbarger, providing birders with access to incredible scenery and a chance to search for waterfowl and Bald Eagles. During the wintertime, several kinds of ducks can usually be found congregating near the ice-free springs on the lake’s southwest side. On the other side of the lake, there is a large nature center with bird feeders. When visiting, please respect the camp’s Christian atmosphere.

Website: campausable.org
Directions: Click here

 

(J) Grayling Sewage (Restricted Access) ★

Located south of Grayling, proximity to I-75 provides easy access to the Grayling Sewage Ponds. Birders have counted over 100 species at the lagoons. Be sure to request permission before attempting to bird the area.

Directions: Click here

 

(K) Kirtland’s Warbler Tours ★★

The best way to see a Kirtland’s Warbler is to take a tour. While there are many stands of Jack Pines all over the northern Lower Peninsula, the chance of seeing a Kirtland’s Warbler at one of these places is not very high. The warblers, which require the pines to be of a certain height for nesting, are not easy to find. Another benefit of taking a tour is to support conservation efforts to raise awareness about these endangered birds. The time of year visitors are most likely to see a Kirtland’s Warbler is from the middle of May to the beginning of June.

Mio Forest Service Ranger Station
The Mio Ranger Station is located in Oscoda County.
Website: goo.gl/eFWzjb
Phone: (989) 826-3252
Fee: $10 / person
Directions: Click here

(K) Fish and Wildlife Service
Website: goo.gl/xZBWav
Phone: (517) 351-2555
Fee: Free
Directions: Click here

Kirtland's WarblerKirtland's Warbler

 

(L) Lake Margrethe Access ★

A large boat launch on the west side of the 1,920-acre Lake Margrethe provides birders with convenient access. When visiting the boat launch, birders should look for loons, bufflehead, and mergansers. There is a state forest campground on the lake’s northwest side.

Directions: Click here

 

(M) North Higgins Lake State Park ★★

Formerly the biggest seedling nursery in the world, North Higgins Lake State Park’s 429 acres provide a home for many different kinds of trees, plants, and birds. The park offers miles of hiking trails and is open throughout the year for visitors and campers. The park also features a museum dedicated to remembering the Civilian Civilization Corps. Commonly seen bird species include Brown Creepers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Common Loons, and Pine Warblers.

Website: michigan.gov/northhigginslake | Map: Click here
Directions: Click here