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Birding Muskegon County: Hotspots near Muskegon

 

(A) Meinert Park ★★

Bordering 182 acres of rolling dune forest, the scenic overlook at Meinert Park treats visitors to spectacular views of Lake Michigan and Little Flower Creek. Birders visiting the park should search for Bonaparte’s Gulls, Caspian Terns, and Double-crested Cormorants.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(B) Medbery Park ★

Protecting 600 feet of Michigan’s shoreline, Medbery Park is located next to the White Lake Channel. The park is a good spot to scan the lake for Red-breasted Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks, and other bird species. There are restrooms, a picnic area, benches, and a beach volleyball court available.

Hours: 6am to 11pm
Directions: Click here

 

(C) Covell Park ★★

Positioned next to US-31 BUS, Covell Park is known for its unique shape which resembles a slice of pie from an aerial view. One of the park’s highlights is the Hart Montague Bicycle Trail, which traverses the preserve before crossing over the White River.

The bridge is a favorite place for fishermen to hang out. It is also a good spot for birders to set up a spotting scope and scan for Red-breasted Mergansers and other duck species.

Directions: Click here

 

(D) Lions Park ★

Lions Park is a 3.5-acre city park which provides birders with access to the White River just before it flows into White Lake. Great Egrets and Barn Swallows can sometimes be seen in the large wetland located near the river. Amenities available at Lions Park include an accessible boardwalk, interpretive station, and picnic shelter.

Directions: Click here

 

(E) Duck Lake State Park ★★

Heavily wooded, Duck Lake State Park is a 728-acre nature preserve that stretches all the way from Duck Lake to Lake Michigan. Hiking, fishing, swimming, and picnicking are all popular activities at the state park. For birders who enjoy watching swallows, the park is a worthy destination. More than six species are possible, including Cliff Swallows and Purple Martins.

Website: michigan.gov/ducklake | Map: Click here
Phone: (231) 744-3480
Directions: Click here

 

(F) Muskegon State Park ★★

Situated between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan, Muskegon State Park features over 1,000 acres of protected dune habitat. Considered to be one of the most stunning parks on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore, Muskegon State Park’s towering dunes provide visitors with scenic views of the lake’s incredibly blue water. During the spring and fall, the park becomes a migration corridor for hawks, warblers, and waterfowl. Shorebirds are seen regularly—one of the best places to search is by the north breakwall.

Visitors will enjoy traversing the many wooden boardwalks which lead through the steep dune forest. The trails eventually end up at Lake Michigan—where there is peace and isolation on two miles of pristine, undeveloped beaches. One place birders will want to visit before leaving is Snug Harbor Marsh, a secluded locale where Short-eared Owls and other uncommon birds have been found. On the park’s south side, parking spaces near a campground provide visitors with spectacular views of a large channel of water flowing from Muskegon Lake into Lake Michigan.

Website: michigan.gov/muskegon | Map: Click here
Phone: (231) 744-3480
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

 

(G) Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve ★★

The highlight of Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve is the Al Bell Trail, which winds through a large wetland area. An observation deck provides birders with a place to listen for bitterns and rails.

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

(H) Muskegon Wastewater System ★★★

One of the Michigan’s best birding hotspots, Muskegon Wastewater System’s thousands of acres of woods, fields, and treatment ponds create optimal habitat for migrating birds. As soon as the ice melts in March, hundreds of ducks congregate on the sewage lakes. The dikes surrounding the ponds provide birders with many different viewpoints. Occasionally, a rare bird will be reported—in the past, Eurasian Wigeons, Eared Grebes, American White Pelicans, and Golden Eagles have been spotted.

Immediately after entering the park, birders will pass a number of small fields on the right hand side of the road. Snow Buntings visit in large flocks every year, and sometimes a Snowy Owl will show up. Visitors to the wastewater system need to visit the office and get an entrance permit before driving anywhere else in the park. During the winter months, cars cannot drive on the dikes because of icy conditions. A quick call to the office is necessary to find out whether the ponds are accessible or not.

Website: goo.gl/ctAWgV
Phone: (231) 724-3440
Hours: The wastewater treatment facility is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm. A weekend permit is required to visit on Saturday and Sunday.
Directions: Click here

 

(I) Muskegon Lake Cottage Grove Access ★

Muskegon Lake Cottage Grove Access is a good place to scan Muskegon Lake for ducks. American Wigeons, Green-winged Teals, and American Black Ducks are regular visitors during the spring and fall months.

Directions: Click here

 

(J) Pere Marquette Park ★★

Featuring a 200-foot long walkway next to a beach, Pere Marquette Park is an excellent birding destination just south of the Muskegon Channel. The 27.5-acre park has a long, rocky pier which extends west into Lake Michigan, creating an excellent place to search for sandpipers.

Pere Marquette Park is an especially good spot for producing rarities. Some of the species sighted in recent years include Harlequin Ducks, Black-legged Kittiwakes, Glaucous Gulls, Purple Sandpipers, and Forster's Terns. Over 120 species of birds have been recorded at Pere Marquette Park.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(K) Beechwood Park ★★

Heavily wooded, Beechwood Park offers birders access to Lake Michigan’s shoreline. The terrain is relatively hilly, creating elevation for an excellent sledding hill which draws extra traffic during the wintertime. The park features a large swimming beach, a basketball court, restrooms, and several picnic tables sheltered by oak trees.

Beechwood Park is an excellent spot to visit for birders looking for woodpeckers—all six of Michigan’s hammerheads have been spotted in the park. Many kinds of warblers can be found as well, as the songbirds visit for rest after migrating along the coastline.

Directions: Click here

 

(L) Lake Harbor Park ★★

Lake Harbor Park consists of a 189-acre property positioned between Mona Lake and Lake Michigan. One of the highlights of the park is the paved path which follows the Mona Lake Channel. Other attractions include the scenic deck overlooking the channel and the several trails which provide access to the parks' dune forest (one of which features interpretive displays). Another trail takes visitors on an exhausting climb over sand dunes to reach Lake Michigan. Other park amenities include restrooms and a large picnic area.

Because of its location, Lake Harbor Park is a good place to see many kinds of birds—over 120 species have been spotted. Occasionally, fortunate visitors will see a Red-throated Loon. Long-tailed Ducks and White-winged Scoters are common during winter and early spring.

Hours: 5am to 10pm
Directions: Click here

 

(M) P. J. Hoffmaster State Park ★★

Featuring the most scenic sand dunes in Michigan, P. J. Hoffmaster State Park has miles of trails leading up to awe-inspiring views. One of the park’s highlights that young kids will enjoy is climbing the stairs up to the top of the highest dune. The lookout is a good place to watch for hawks soaring overhead. Another place to check for birds is the visitor center’s bird bath and feeders. Cedar Waxwings and finches can be seen cleaning themselves through the building’s windows. Warblers, flycatchers, and raptors regularly stop at the park's woods as they rest from migrating along Lake Michigan’s shoreline.

Website: michigan.gov/hoffmaster | Map: Click here
Phone: (231) 798-3711
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

 

(N) Little Black Lake Park ★★

Located on the west side of 223-acre Black Lake, Little Black Lake Park is a good spot to search for waterfowl. From the parking lot, trees block the lake from view so birders will have to walk through about 500 feet of woods and meadows to reach the shoreline. In season, Buffleheads and other duck species can often be spotted on the lake.

Directions: Click here

 

(O) Ravenna Sewage (Restricted Access) ★

Bordered by forest and fields, Ravenna Sewage Lagoons consist of three large ponds. Unfortunately, birders visiting the ponds will have to peer through a fence. During migration, many kinds of ducks, sandpipers, and sparrows can be sighted.

Directions: Click here