Livingston County
  • Register

Birding Livingston County: Hotspots near Brighton

 

(A) Lutz County Park ★

Originally a 300-acre farm, Lutz County Park was donated to be protected as a nature preserve. The park consists of fields, woodlands, and a small pond. Every year, hundreds of migrating Sandhill Cranes stop at Lutz County Park.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane

 

(B) Deerfield Hills Nature Area ★★

Shrub field, a stand of pines, and lakeshore are the types of habitat that birders will encounter at Deerfield Hills Nature Area. Birders visiting the park should look for Field Sparrows, Cooper’s Hawks, and Tree Swallows during the summertime. Wild Turkeys and Ruffed Grouse are also common sightings at the preserve.

Recently, the local township board voted to make a number of improvements to the park, including an expanded parking area and restrooms. Signs intended to help visitors learn more about the plant's park and wildlife have also been installed. The city staff also voted to approve a trail maintenance schedule to help keep the walking paths in good condition.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(C) DeBucks Sod Farm ★

During fall migration, DeBucks Sod Farm transforms into one of the top shorebird hotspots in Livingston County. Birders have recorded Pectoral Sandpipers, Stilt Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plovers, helping round out an impressive resume of bird sightings for the farm. The best place to look for sandpipers is near areas with fresh dirt or standing water, which regularly change location depending on the weather or where heavy farm equipment was last used.

Another place to check is next to a manufactured home community off of Market Pl, which is accessible from Burkhart Road. Do not park or stop alongside Market Pl; instead drive past the ponds to a large parking lot, leave the car there, and walk back to search for birds.

Directions: Click here

 

(D) Livingston County Airport ★

Stretching across several large fields, Livingston County Airport is a good place to search for sandpipers and cranes. Horned Larks and Eastern Meadowlarks nest in the airport’s meadows.

Directions: Click here

 

(E) Lakeview Cemetery ★

Lakeview Cemetery provides birders with a place to set up their spotting scopes and scan Thompson Lake for birds. During migration, birders may see Forster’s Terns, Caspian Terns, and Horned Grebes on the lake. Unfortunately, the presence of water sports enthusiasts keeps the birds away during the summer months.

Directions: Click here

 

(F) Lake Chemung ★

Lake Chemung is 321 acres in size and nearly 2 miles long. Known as one of the last bodies of water in Livingston County to freeze, Lake Chemung is an excellent place to check for wintering waterfowl. Some of the highlights seen in recent years include Tundra Swans, Ross’ Geese, and Surf Scoters. When spring arrives, small numbers of Common Loons and Horned Grebes can be spotted on the pond. The only time Lake Chemung is worth visiting by birders is during the cold months—any other time of the year, the lake becomes crowded by boats and people.

Directions: Click here

Horned GrebeHorned Grebe

(G) Howell Nature Center ★★

Howell Conference & Nature Center was founded with the mission of rehabilitating injured mammals and birds. Every year, people bring over 2,300 animals to the nature center for care. Some of the animals, which are unable to return to the wild, become permanent residents of the Wild Wonders Wildlife Park. The park, which serves as an educational zoo, provides paths leading visitors on a half-mile walk by cages holding bobcats, Snowy Owls, porcupines, and several kinds of hawks. While Howell Nature Center does not rank that highly as a birding hotspot, it does have feeders present, which attract a variety of finches and sparrows.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

BobcatBobcat

 

(H) Brighton State Recreation Area ★★

Dotted with lakes, Brighton State Recreation Area features nearly 5,000 acres of land, including a partial dry-mesic forest and several prairie fens. Because of its diverse habitat, the park is one of Livingston County’s most popular birding destinations.

The best place to start birding is by walking one of the many hiking trails. In recent years, species which have nested at the park include Golden-winged Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, and Hooded Warblers.

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

 

(I) St. Marys Cemetery ★

St Marys Cemetery is a small graveyard that provides birders with a convenient place to search the 49-acre Mill Pond for waterfowl.

Directions: Click here

 

(J) Manly W. Bennett Memorial Park ★★

Manly W. Bennett Memorial Park is a 300-acre park that features marshes, floodplain, and fields. The marshes at the park provide habitat for Least Bitterns, Soras, and Virginia Rails. Swamp Sparrows and Yellow-billed Cuckoos are also common in the area.

Another one of the park’s birding areas is a trail leading through upland cedar to a wooden boardwalk, which ends at an overlook on the Huron River. The habitat near the river is a good place to search for migrating warblers during the springtime.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

Yellow-billed CuckooYellow-billed Cuckoo

 

(K) Huron Meadows Metropark ★★

Conveniently close to Brighton, Huron Meadows Metropark is an excellent place to relax and enjoy an “up north” vibe. The 1,540-acre park features a thick, oak-hickory forest which encircles Maltby Lake. The woodlands host nesting Barred and Great Horned Owls. In the past, Hooded Warblers, Golden-winged Warblers, and Lincoln Sparrows have visited the park.

The best spot to search for birds is on the park’s western side, which can be explored by walking a trail alongside the Huron River. The woods surrounding Maltby Lake are also a good place to search for migrant songbirds and waterfowl. Park at Sunset Ridge Picnic area, where Eastern Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows can be found nearby.

Website: metroparks.com/Huron-Meadows-Metropark | Map: Click here
Fees: Metroparks Vehicle Entry Permit required ($7 daily, $30 annually)
Directions: Click here

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow

 

(L) Island Lake State Recreation Area ★★

Protecting 4,000 acres of the Huron River basin, Island Lake State Recreation Area is known for hosting one of the safest shooting ranges in the United States. Other activities available include canoeing, volleyball, picnicking, swimming, and camping. The 4,000-acre recreation area is on the south end of the 1,200-acre Kent Lake, and borders several other lakes.

A popular birding hotspot, Island Lake SRA has hosted over 150 species. The most exciting visitors include Long-eared Owls, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Canada Warblers, and Vesper Sparrows. During the spring, one of the best spots is a short distance south of the entrance booth, where visitors have sighted Prairie Warblers, Orchard Orioles, and Clay-colored Sparrows. Other species which nest in the area include Red-headed and Pileated Woodpeckers.

Website: goo.gl/oIdRTo | Map: Click here
Directions: Click here