Isabella-Midland County
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Birding Isabella-Midland County: Hotspots near Midland & Mt. Pleasant

 

(A) Pleasant Valley Rd Wetlands ★★

A large swampland positioned in the middle of agricultural fields, Pleasant Valley Rd Wetlands is an amazing place to visit during the springtime, when huge flocks of migrating geese, cranes, and swans stopover. Sandpipers and ducks are also present, albeit in fewer numbers. There is no parking area available; be sure to park as far off the road as possible. The wetlands are next to an Amish farm.

Directions: Click here

Black-bellied PloverBlack-bellied Plover

 

(B) Sylvan Solace Preserve ★★

Stretching across 78 acres, Sylvan Solace Preserve features several different kinds of habitat. The northern part of the preserve has a new-growth forest that is beginning to take hold in several former fields. Local ornithologists recently installed over 50 bluebird nest boxes near the meadow edges. About 500 feet south of the parking lot, a butterfly garden planted with native flowers sometimes attracts Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

The southern part of the preserve consists of riparian woodlands with the Chippewa River bordering the preserve’s southwest side. Visiting birders should listen for House Wrens, Great-crested Flycatchers, and other woodland birds.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(C) Chipp-A-Water Park ★★

Chipp-A-Water Park is a popular summer destination highlighted by the beautiful Chippewa River. Canada Geese, Mallards, and Belted Kingfishers can often be seen near the river. There is a large bridge and a number of walking trails available for visitors to enjoy. Located next to Central Michigan University, Chipp-A-Water Park can become crowded during the weekends.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher

 

(D) Mill Pond Park ★★

Mill Pond Park is a large city park featuring a pond, river, and several trails. Because of its diverse habitat, many kinds of birds can be found at Mill Pond Park, including Barn Swallows and Red-winged Blackbirds.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(E) Kawkawlin Creek Flooding WMA ★★

Kawkawlin Creek Flooding WMA is a 3,000-acre wetland area mixed with deciduous forest habitat. Parking at Kawkawlin is limited—visitors will have to leave their vehicles outside of the main impoundment before entering. Many kinds of ducks and other water birds can be found at Kawkawlin. Wood Ducks and Great Blue Herons are especially common in April, which is the best time to visit.

There is a Ruffed Grouse Management Area on Shearer Road several miles west of Kawkawlin. The grouse can frequently be heard calling during the spring. Take care when traversing the wildlife preserve—the ground turns to mud when the spring thaw occurs.

Directions: Click here

Ruffed GrouseRuffed Grouse

 

(F) Pine Haven Recreation Area ★★

Pine Haven Recreation Area is a small park containing miles of well-kept trails. Some of the different activities which are popular are cross-country skiing, biking, and hiking. Birders will enjoy walking through the park’s pristine woodland area, which has a mud creek cutting through the middle of it. A small population of nesting Cerulean Warblers make the preserve an especially exciting visit for birders. Other birds to look for include Pileated Woodpeckers, Louisiana Waterthrushes, and Yellow-throated Vireos—all of which nest locally.

Website: goo.gl/ZFhcdD | Map: Click here
Hours: 8am to 6:30pm
Directions: Click here

(G) Sanford Park & Dam ★★

Sanford Park & Dam is a small park located on the shores of Sanford Lake, a 1,250-acre impoundment of the Tittabawassee River. Always ice-free throughout the winter, the river provides a feeding ground for Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Goldeneyes. Sometimes hundreds of Mallards will congregate on the river.

A short distance northwest of the dam, Sanford Lake Park (43.6807, -84.3835) provides visitors with a better view of the lake, as well as access to several hiking trails.

Hours: 8am to 5pm
Directions: Click here

Red-breasted MerganserRed-breasted Merganser

 

(H) Averill Preserve ★★

Threaded by the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail, Averill Preserve provides visitors with a chance to enjoy a panoramic overlook above the Tittabawassee River and learn more about the history of the Michigan logging industry. The preserve was once one of the largest timber banking grounds in the world. There is a mile of trails available for visitors to explore, with informational displays present. The forest near the river is a good place to search for Belted Kingfishers, Great Crested Flycatchers, and other woodland species.

The preserve, located on the south side of Wackerly Road, does not have a parking area. Be sure to park as far off the road as possible.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(I) Riverview Natural Area ★

Protecting two miles of the Tittabawassee River, Riverview Natural Area is a 419-acre preserve formed to protect the riparian forest from development. Visitors to the natural area will enjoy watching Bald Eagles periodically soar overhead.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

Bald EagleBald Eagle

 

(J) Chippewa Nature Center ★★

Deeply committed to educating visitors about natural history, Chippewa Nature Center is a great place for everyone to learn about the outdoors. The Center's focus is to “help people enjoy and learn about the environment, as well as to inspire and teach them how to be responsible stewards of the land, water and air.”

There is a small museum inside of the nature center, where artistic exhibits vividly detail the lives of Chippewa Indians. There is even a giant stuffed beaver on display standing over 4 feet tall! One of the sanctuary’s highlights is an old schoolhouse from the 1800s. Groups of kids arrive every year on field trips to learn about what school life—reading, writing, and arithmetic—was like 150 years ago.

The nature center comprises over 1,200 acres of wetlands, fields, and woodlands. In the spring, trails running alongside the river can be an excellent place to look for songbirds. Warblers can usually be heard singing in the riparian habitat. Across the street on Badour Road, the nature center owns a large wetland property. The swamp is a good place to see Great Egrets, Henslow's Sparrows, and Forster's Terns.

Website: chippewanaturecenter.org | Map: Click here
Phone: (989) 631-0830
Hours: The trails are open from dawn to dark. The Nature Center store is open Monday through Saturday from 8am to 5pm, and on holidays from 1pm to 5pm.
Directions: Click here

 

(K) Poseyville Road Wetlands ★★

Positioned across the street from the Dow Chemical Company, the Poseyville Road Wetlands contain several trails that run east for several miles, eventually connecting to land owned by the Chippewa Nature Center. There are several parks and ponds alongside Poseyville Road and Whitman Drive, making the area an excellent destination for birding. Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats, and Green Herons are annual summer residents.

Directions: Click here

 

(L) Whiting Overlook Park ★★

Famous for regularly hosting rare waterfowl, Whiting Overlook Park is a major birding hotspot in the Midland area. The park‘s main feature is a grassy hill overlooking a large pond, providing birders with an excellent vantage point. While small, the preserve offers nice features that many wildlife areas are missing, including interpretive signs, a new trail system, and picnic tables. The Chippewa Trail runs close to Overlook Park, making it a connecting point for bikers and joggers.

A couple of years ago, a flock of White Pelicans visited Overlook Park. The uncommon migrants put on a display for onlooking birders as they repeatedly dove into the water.

Directions: Click here

 

(M) Stratford Woods Park ★

Positioned on the shores of 7-acre Kiwassee Lake, Stratford Woods Park is a pleasant little city park featuring playgrounds, beach volleyball courts, basketball courts, and a sandy beach. The west side of the park offers visitors a chance to explore several trails winding through a small forest. Several of the birding highlights witnessed at Stratford Woods Park include Pileated Woodpeckers, Horned Grebes, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

Directions: Click here