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Birding Saginaw County: Hotspots near Saginaw


(A) Freeland Sewage Lagoons ★

Freeland Sewage Lagoons consists of an odoriferous but birdy collection of ponds that provide birders with an excellent chance to view waterfowl. Access is limited, so request permission from a nearby prison facility before attempting to drive around the six ponds. In September, many species of shorebirds can be seen at the lagoons.

Hours: The best time to request access to the sewage lagoons is during business hours on weekdays (from 8am to 5pm).
Directions: Click here

Ruddy TurnstoneRuddy Turnstone


(B) Crow Island State Game Area ★★

Protecting several large Saginaw River tributaries, Crow Island State Game Area consists mostly of wetland habitat. The swampy preserve is an excellent place to look for Yellow-headed Blackbirds, which are uncommon in Michigan. During the spring, thousands of ducks and geese visit the state game area.

The GPS points lead to a small parking area on M-13. Sometimes a gate blocks visitors from driving in further, so visitors may have to park the car and access the game area by foot. After birding the area, drive farther north on M-13 for 0.9 of a mile and turn left to visit a tributary of the Saginaw River. Another place to view the river is from Melbourne Road (43.4978, -83.9013).

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

(C) William H. Haithco Recreation Area ★★

Surrounded by buildings and the I-675 highway, William H. Haithco Recreation Area features Lake Haithco, a 40-acre body of water surrounded by grassy lawns and a thin line of trees. There are many amenities and activities available at the recreation area. Visitors may enjoy renting canoes, kayaks, or rowboats, as well as participating in swimming and volleyball. There is a large, life-guard supervised beach with restrooms. Dogs are not allowed at Haithco Recreation Area.

During the early spring months, Lake Haithco can be a good spot for watching migrating waterfowl. Once the weather warms up and the crowds arrive, birders will have better luck searching the forest for flycatchers and wood warblers.

Map: Click here
Fees: Starting the Friday before Memorial Day, visitors are charged $5 per car
Directions: Click here

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat


(D) Shiawassee NWR ★★★

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is a large wetland stretching across thousands of acres of excellent birding habitat. The swamp exists because four rivers—the Tittabawassee, Flint, Cass, and Shiawassee—converge to create the Saginaw River. Over 260 species of birds have been seen at the wildlife refuge. The noise from the huge flocks of waterfowl that visit during the spring and fall can be deafening at times.

Every year, local Audubon groups visit Shiawassee NWR to see migrating ducks and other species of birds. During the winter, Northern Shrikes, Short-eared Owls, and Lapland Longspurs are present. Access to the refuge from September 1 to November 30 is limited because of hunting, but most of the hiking trails and the auto tour are still open.

The GPS points lead to a large parking area providing a good place to park and walk when the auto tour is closed. Recently, the scenic road has shut down during the springtime because of nesting Bald Eagles.

Website: | Map: Click here
Directions: Click here


(E) Price Nature Center ★★

The heavily wooded Price Nature Center is a quiet 186-acre preserve featuring 3 miles of self-guided nature trails and a campground. Visitors with kids in the tow will enjoy climbing on a recently built playground. When visiting the nature center, look for common woodland species such as Red-bellied Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Common Grackles.

Map: Click here
Phone: (989) 790-5280
Directions: Click here