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Birding Oceana County: Hotspots near Pentwater


(A) Charles Mears State Park ★★

Located about 1.4 miles west of Longbridge, Charles Mears State Park is a good migrant trap for passerines and water birds. The park’s birding hotspot is a beach with a pier, providing access to Lake Michigan. The summer beach season starts at the beginning of June, so birders should try to arrive early when visiting during the warm months. One of the park’s biggest attractions that visitors will not want to miss is walking up Old Baldy Trail, which climbs a heavily wooded sand dune.

Website: michigan.gov/mears | Map: Click here
Phone: (231) 869-2051
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

Yellow-billed CuckooYellow-billed Cuckoo


(B) Pentwater Lake and Harbor Access ★

Pentwater Lake is a 436-acre lake with a channel on its west side that flows out into Lake Michigan. The access point is a good spot to search for diving ducks and gulls during the cold months.

Directions: Click here


(C) Pentwater Waste Treatment Ponds ★

Covering three acres, the Pentwater Waste Treatment Ponds are a good place to look for migrating sandpipers. Be sure to ask permission from the office before entering. If there is a strong east wind present, raptors may be seen soaring overhead as they fly along the lakeshore.

Directions: Click here


(D) Longbridge Causeway ★

Longbridge Causeway is utilized by birders as a viewing platform to search a nearby marsh with their spotting scopes. The type of birds that can be seen change as the water levels of Lake Michigan rise and fall. During the springtime, melting snow raises water levels high enough so dabbling ducks and herons can find plenty to eat. In the late summer, sandpipers visit the exposed mudflats. Two locally uncommon species which nest at the marsh are Marsh Wrens and Sora.

Directions: Click here



(E) Pentwater River State Game Area ★

Positioned next to Pentwater River, a parking area provides birders with a spot to search the open waters and swampland of Pentwater River State Game Area for ducks and herons.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here


(F) Shelby Sewage Lagoons ★

Consisting of four large ponds, the Shelby Sewage Lagoons are bordered by a fence, presenting a distorted view to any birders trying to search for migrating sandpipers and ducks. Wooded habitat surrounds the sewage ponds.

Directions: Click here


(G) Whiskey Creek Public Access ★

Whiskey Creek Public Access leads to a beach bordering Lake Michigan that is rarely crowded. From the parking area, a short hike over a dune is required to reach the lake. Behind the beach, a thick deciduous forest provides nesting habitat for songbirds.

Directions: Click here


(H) Walkinshaw Wetland Preserve ★★

Walkinshaw Wetland Preserve is a 4,500-acre remote swamp area managed by the Forest Service. The preserve is famous for being the home to the first state record of a Gray Kingbird. While there are no amenities or trails available, Walkinshaw Wetland Preserve is a great place to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of a natural environment.

Many kinds of birds can be seen in the fields and swamps of Walkinshaw, including sparrows, bitterns, and herons. During the fall, thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Rusty Blackbirds roost in the swamps before flying south.

Directions: Click here