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Birding Calhoun County: Hotspots near Battle Creek & Marshall


(A) Kellogg Airport ★

The wide open plains of Kellogg Airport help to create an optimal place to look for grassland birds. There are also several ponds present, creating a good place to look for swallows and dabbling ducks. During the wintertime, check the fields for Snow Buntings, Snowy Owls, Rough-legged Hawks, and Lapland Longspurs.

Directions: Click here

Rough-legged HawkRough-legged Hawk


(B) Willard Park ★

Beautifully landscaped, Willard Beach & Park provides access to Goguac Lake, a scenic body of water highlighted by a large, sandy beach. There are restrooms, picnic tables, and a pavilion available for visitors to enjoy. Many kinds of waterfowl can be seen on the lake during March and April.

Hours: The park is open April 1 to October 31 from 8am to 8:30pm. During the winter, only pedestrian traffic is allowed--no vehicle traffic permitted.
Fees: A daily vehicle pass costs $5
Directions: Click here


(C) Ott Biological Preserve ★★

Gifted to the city of Battle Creek by John Harvey Kellogg nearly a century ago, Ott Biological Preserve has managed to keep its wild beauty over the years. The swampland and forests contain many kinds of trees, providing habitat for a variety of birds. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Pileated Woodpeckers can be found with a little luck. The area is not always kept up as well as some other birding hotspots, but it is still a unique place where birders may find solitude.

A few years ago, a proposal for a construction project threatened the sanctuary's sanctity. Fortunately for nature lovers, the proposal failed.

Website: | Map: Click here
Directions: Click here


(D) Ackley Lake Access ★

Surrounded by forest, the open waters of 66-acre Ackerly Lake present an excellent opportunity to see migrating waterfowl.

Directions: Click here

Bald EagleBald Eagle


(E) Kiwanis YCA (Limited Access) ★★

Adjacent to Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary, Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area annually hosts huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes during migration. Most of the wetlands near Big Marsh Lake are not visible from Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary, prompting many birders to visit the conservation area instead. The best time to visit is during the annual Sandhill Crane & Art Festival. Check to see which days the conservation area is open for crane viewing.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here


(F) Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary ★★

The first nature preserve in America dedicated to saving Sandhill Cranes, the Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary provides 898 acres of nesting habitat. The main attraction is 200-acre Big Marsh Lake, a popular destination for cranes, herons, and ducks. There are several excellent trails which pass through the sanctuary. The Meadow and Marshland Trail is two miles long and leads through open fields and pristine marsh habitat, giving birders chances to see Sora, Virginia Rails, Common Yellowthroat, Swamp Sparrows, and Sandhill Cranes.

Another one of the sanctuary’s highlights is the Doty Nature Wildflower Trail, a mile-long boardwalk which meanders through meadows and past a pond while following the edge of a floodplain forest. Many species of sparrows can be found in the sanctuary’s fields.

Website: | Map: Click here
Phone: (269) 223-9984
Directions: Click here

Sandhill CraneSandhill Crane


(G) Lake of the Woods Access ★

Lake of the Woods Access provides birders a place to park and search the 50-acre lake for migrating waterfowl. Regularly sighted species include Canada Geese, Wood Ducks, and Blue-winged Teals. The forest surrounding the lake is mostly undeveloped.

Directions: Click here

Blue-winged TealBlue-winged Teal


(H) Duck Lake WTP (Restricted Access) ★

The Duck Lake Waste Treatment Plant consists of two small ponds and two large ponds. The ponds are a good place to search for migrating waterfowl during the spring and fall. Be sure to request permission from the waste management staff before birding the area.

Directions: Click here


(I) Ketchum Park ★

Ketchum Park is a large city park located next to the Kalamazoo River. The terrain’s habitat consists of field and forest. The park has several facilities for kids, including a playground and a skate park. One of the park’s highlights is a bridge over the Kalamazoo River, where birders can stop and search the riverbank for wading shorebirds.

Directions: Click here


(J) Stuart's Landing ★

Stuart's Landing provides birders with a convenient place to access the Kalamazoo River. One of the area’s biggest attractions is the Marshall Riverwalk, which runs three-quarters of a mile from the landing to Kalamazoo Avenue. The river is a good place to search for waterfowl.

Directions: Click here


(K) Upper Brace Lake Access ★

Fifty-six acres in size, Upper Brace Lake's shoreline is mostly undeveloped, creating a good place to search for Bald Eagles, Common Loons, and other birds.

Directions: Click here