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Birding Macomb County: Hotspots near Sterling Heights

 

(A) Wolcott Mill Metropark ★★

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Wolcott Mill Metropark features grain grinding equipment, exhibits, and a mill, providing visitors with a glimpse of what life was like over 150 years ago. The 2,380-acre park also contains a farm center, which is notable for being the only place in Michigan to raise all six breeds of dairy cows.

Visitors searching for Savannah Sparrows and other species of grassland birds will enjoy exploring 10 miles of trails, leading through forests and open meadows. The best place to look is Millrace Trail, which follows a branch of the Clinton River before looping around. Another one of the park’s highlights is the Mother Earth Trail, a neatly mowed path guiding visitors to an old dam.

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

 

(B) Stony Creek Metropark ★★

Containing a large lake, 4000 acres of forest, and open meadow, the diverse habitat of Stony Creek Metropark create an excellent birding hotspot. After scanning the lake for waterfowl, walk the trails around the Nature Center area—the woods nearby are a good place to look for sparrows and warblers. Watch out for rattlesnakes, which can sometimes sun themselves near the trails on warm days.

Stony Creek Metropark is one of the county’s best spots for finding Barred Owls. Occasionally, the Nature Center holds special programs and walks to teach visitors more about the nocturnal birds.

Website: metroparks.com/Stony-Creek-Metropark | Map: Click here
Phone: (586) 781-4242
Fees: Metroparks Vehicle Entry Permit required ($7 daily, $30 annually)
Directions: Click here

Barred OwlBarred Owl

 

(C) Holland Ponds ★★

The Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal Trail is located near Holland Ponds Nature Area and the Clinton River, providing birders with easy access. The area features several ponds and a large swamp, creating a suitable nesting spots for Sandhill Cranes and Belted Kingfishers.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(D) River Bend Park ★★

Protecting over 870 acres of forest and meadows surrounding the Clinton River, River Bend Park is a scenic place to visit. There are many activities and amenities available, including an archery range, picnic shelters, campgrounds, fishing sites, playgrounds, restrooms, barbecue areas, and more. Birders have spotted over 100 species at River Bend Park, including Yellow-throated Vireo, Willow Flycatcher, and Cape May Warbler.

Map: Click here
Hours: The park is open from 8am to dusk.
Phone: (586) 731-0300
Directions: Click here

 

(E) Dodge Park & Clinton River Park ★★

Featuring several trails alongside the Clinton River, the terrain at Dodge Park & Clinton River Park is heavily wooded with only a few open areas present. The riparian habitat is a suitable location to search for migrating Blue-winged Warblers and other songbirds in May.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

Blue-winged WarblerBlue-winged Warbler

 

(F) Island Park and Lake ★★

A city oasis, Island Park & Lake is surrounded by a shopping mall and residential neighborhoods. The park’s highlight is a paved trail that leads visitors over a bridge to Island Park. The best time to visit is from February to May when the spring migrants arrive. The urban setting, which discourages most wildlife from nesting on the island, makes summertime visits less productive for birders. Be sure to examine a map before leaving since the roads surrounding Island Park can be confusing to navigate.

Directions: Click here

 

(G) Gloede Ditch Conservation Area ★★

Located next to Partridge Creek Mall, Gloede Ditch Conservation Area provides birders with an excellent urban hotspot for finding sandpipers and other shorebirds. The conservation area is a good place to search for grassland species of birds since its terrain is mostly open, interspersed throughout with trees. The best place to look is a pond located behind Walmart, accessible from the store’s parking lot.

Directions: Click here

WhimbrelWhimbrel

 

(H) MacArthur Park ★

Situated alongside the Clinton River, MacArthur Park is a small, 2.1-acre park which serves as an outdoor arboretum and classroom. Local school groups often visit the park on field trips. MacArthur Park offers a walking trail and a boardwalk positioned above the river. Green Herons, Belted Kingfishers, and Eastern Kingbirds are common sightings.

Directions: Click here

 

(I) Lake St. Clair Metropark ★★

Ranking as one of the top migrant traps in the state, Lake St. Clair Metropark provides 770 acres of optimal stopover habitat for migrating birds. Early May is the best time to search the trees and bushes for colorful songbirds—visitors have recorded over 37 different warbler species.

Birders planning to visit the Metropark during the summer should be sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds. Lake St. Clair Metropark is an immensely popular recreational area visited by two million people every year. Start by birding South Beach, because it is one of the first places to fill up with people. After visiting South Beach, walk out to Huron Point to get more good views of the lake, while keeping an eye out for sandpipers on the shoreline. Before leaving, be sure to check the bird feeders behind the Nature Center. White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows are common visitors during migration.

Website: metroparks.com/Lake-St.-Clair-Metropark | Map: Click here
Phone: (586) 463-4581
Fees: Metroparks Vehicle Entry Permit required ($7 daily, $30 annually)
Directions: Click here

White-throated SparrowWhite-throated Sparrow

 

(J) River Road DNR Boat Launch ★

Located on a peninsula next to the Clinton River, River Road extends far into Lake St. Clair, providing birders with access to Belvidere Bay and Campau Bay. The boat launch is an excellent spot to search for Red-breasted Mergansers and other species of waterfowl.

Directions: Click here

 

(K) Brandenburg Park ★★

Situated on the beautiful shoreline of Anchor Bay, Brandenburg Park covers 17 acres of land. One of the park’s highlights is a 500-foot pier that extends far into Lake St. Clair. Walking out onto the pier will separate visitors from beachfront crowds, providing an opportunity to see Common Terns, Herring Gulls, and other species.

A perfect place to bring family members, Brandenburg Park provides many facilities, including basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, playground, paved walkway, boat launch, and 4 open air pavilions. Young kids will especially enjoy soaking underneath a newly built Splash Park.

Fees: $5 per vehicle
Directions: Click here

 

(L) Walter and Mary Burke Park ★

Walter and Mary Burke Park provides birders with a convenient place to stop and check Anchor Bay for gulls and ducks. The park is also a popular place for kayakers to disembark.

Directions: Click here

 

(M) Ford House ★★

Since songbirds prefer to migrate along shorelines, the Ford House’s position on the edge of Lake St. Clair makes the historical site an excellent birding hotspot. The museum staff regularly hosts bird walks in the winter and spring months, when many kinds of sparrows and warblers can be sighted. Some of the bird species which nest near the Ford House include Cooper's Hawk, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Northern Flicker.

Website: fordhouse.org | Map: Click here
Fees: The bird walks are $7 per person
Phone: (313) 884-4222
Directions: Click here