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Birding Barry County: Hotspots near Hastings

 

(A) Maher Sanctuary ★★

Showcasing several kinds of glacially impacted terrain, Maher Sanctuary features a sedge meadow, marl pond, and a large shrub swamp. The brushy habitat near Caine Creek creates a good place to look for Yellow Warblers, Gray Catbirds, and Swamp Sparrows. Birders have reported seeing Yellow-breasted Chats near the marl pond. Be careful when walking on the wooden boardwalk—Poison Ivy grows between the cracks in some areas.

Directions: Click here

 

(B) Irving Pond ★

Irving Pond is a 33-acre tributary of the Thornapple River. The lake is a good place to scan for migrating ducks.

Directions: Click here

 

(C) Thornapple Trail Wetlands ★

The Paul Henry Thornapple Trail is a 42-mile recreational walkway that runs all the way from Grand Rapids to Vermontville. Located on the banks of the Thornapple River, the trail passes through miles farmland and forest. Most of the bird species common in Michigan can be sighted. Because of the river, ducks and other species of waterfowl are especially common. During hunting season, visitors may be denied access to some of the trail sections.

The best way to access the wetlands is to park next to St. James Circle and walk a short distance south. From the trail, visitors will have to walk west a half-mile to reach the wetlands.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(D) Yankee Springs Recreation Area ★★

Yankee Springs Recreation Area should be a top birding destination during the months of March and April for anyone who enjoys watching beautifully patterned ducks. There are nine different lakes available to search. One of the best birding spots is a small peninsula which points southwest into Gun Lake, providing birders with closer access to deep waters.

A beautiful coniferous forest surrounds the lakes, offering birders an opportunity to see some of the northern species of warblers which nest in the area. After visitors finish searching for birds, they can choose to explore some of the Yankee Spring area's sightseeing opportunities. One highlight is the Devil’s Soup Bowl, a glacially carved kettle formation situated within park boundaries. Another scenic destination is Graves Hill Overlook. Activities that visitors often engage in include hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and fishing.

Website: michigan.gov/yankeesprings | Map: Click here
Phone: (269) 795-9081
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

WoodduckWoodduck

 

(E) Barry State Game Area ★★

The southernmost spot in Michigan to find nesting Common Loons, the secluded wilderness of Barry State Game Area provides the birds with a suitable home. There are over 100 species of birds which breed within the state game area's boundaries, including Prairie Warblers, Long-eared Owls, and Least Bitterns.

The short lifespan of aspens and other northern tree species at Barry State Game Area help to create many open areas for birds. Some of the avian species which commonly nest in the preserve’s forests are Gray Catbirds, Indigo Buntings, and Chestnut-sided Warblers. Once in a while visitors will see a Cooper’s hawk flying through the woods.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

(F) Ronald Warner Sanctuary ★★

Situated amidst glacial moraines, Ronald Warner Sanctuary features annually flooded ponds, streams, and a lake. Covered with mature beech-oak forest and Liriodendron plants, the 108-acre preserve sometimes hosts nesting pairs of Cerulean Warblers.

Directions: Click here

Cerulean WarblerCerulean Warbler

 

(G) Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary ★★

Because of its Cerulean Warbler population, Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary is an especially notable birding hotspot. Featuring a trout stream, actively flowing springs, large marshes, and rolling fields, the 128-acre sanctuary provides habitat for many kinds of birds. Species to watch for include Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and Henslow’s Sparrows.

The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake lives on the preserve. While the snake is not aggressive, visitors should be on the lookout, especially when hiking in wet terrain. Since the wetland area lacks trails, be sure to wear boots. Barry State Game Area borders the bird sanctuary on three sides.

Website: goo.gl/6eJErU | Map: Click here
Phone: (269) 948-5777
Directions: Click here

RattlesnakeRattlesnake

 

(H) Pierce Cedar Creek Institute ★★

Featuring a nature center and biological field station, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute is an excellent study area for kids and scientists to learn more about nature’s diversity. Wetlands, streams, marshes, and forests surround the institute’s highlight—a 10-acre kettle-hole lake. The area is a popular nesting ground for birds, with many species making the institute their home. Visitors should wear blue jeans for protection since a healthy population of Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes resides on the premises.

Website: cedarcreekinstitute.org | Map: Click here
Phone: (269) 721-4190
Directions: Click here

 

(I) Charlton Park ★★

Situated on a point jutting into Thornapple Lake, Charlton Park is a convenient place to search the 409-acre body of water for ducks and other water birds. The large lake is a tributary of the Thornapple River.

Properly equipped for visitors, the 300-acre park contains modern restrooms and picnic tables. A short distance from the lake, there is a historic village and museum for visitors to explore.

Website: charltonpark.org | Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

Charlton ParkCharlton Park