Van Buren County
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Birding Van Buren County: Hotspots near Paw Paw & South Haven


(A) Van Buren State Park ★★

Located only a few miles away from South Haven, Van Buren State Park is an excellent place to sit back and relax while enjoying the crashing of the waves. The park features one mile of beach alongside high dune formations. Birders will enjoy looking for birds while hiking several short but steep trails through the dune forest. The woods of Van Buren State Park provide excellent shelter and habitat for migrating warblers. The park is also an excellent place to see shorebirds and raptors.

Website: | Map: Click here
Phone: (269) 637-2788
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here



(B) Covert Park Beach & Campground ★

Covert Park Beach & Campground is a heavily wooded park located alongside a quarter-mile of Lake Michigan shoreline. The park features a mixture of modern and primitive campsites. There are also restrooms and picnic tables available for visitors to use. Birders should keep their eyes open for Caspian Terns, Purple Martins, and several kinds of gulls.

Website: | Map: Click here
Fees: $6 per car, $15 per large van / bus
Directions: Click here

Purple MartinPurple Martin


(C) Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve ★★

Highlighted by delicate dune habitat, Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve protects several coastal marshes. The wet grassland areas provide shelter for many different types of rare flora, including the meadow beauty, globe-fruited seedbox and appressed bog clubmoss. The preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy, is a little over a mile east of Lake Michigan. When the weather warms up, many kinds of songbirds arrive at Ross Coastal Plain, including Blue-winged Warblers, Ovenbirds, and Brown Thrashers. While the preserve is an excellent place to find migrants during the springtime, summertime birding is notoriously slow.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here


(D) Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery ★★

A favorite stopping place for sandpipers, the ponds at Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery provide excellent habitat for migrating birds. High numbers of dabbling ducks, swallows, and swans call the hatchery home during the summer months. The hatchery also has a lot to offer to non-birders.

There are many educational opportunities available, including video presentations of the Great Lakes fisheries and informational displays about the life cycles of fish. Visitors will have a chance to learn about how the DNR works and how they can help to protect the lakes and rivers of Michigan.

Phone: (269) 668-2876
Hours: The hatchery is closed from Thanksgiving to March. From April to May and from September to Thanksgiving, it is open on Saturday from 10am to 4pm, on Sunday from 12pm to 4pm, and closed Monday.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the hatchery is open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6pm, and on Sunday it is open from 12pm to 6pm.
Hatchery tours take place on Saturday at 10am, 12pm, and 2pm, and on Sundays at 12pm and 2pm.
Directions: Click here

Tree SwallowTree Swallow


(E) Maple Lake & Ackley Lake ★

A small parking lot on the west side of M-40 next to Maple Lake provides a convenient place to park. Search for several species of migrating ducks, including Common Mergansers, Lesser Scaups, and Wood Ducks. Birders can check out Ackley Lake as well, which is on the east side of M-40. The shorelines of both lakes are heavily developed.

Directions: Click here


(F) Briggs Pond ★

Briggs Pond is a large body of water located in the center of Paw Paw, where migrating ducks and several kinds of wading birds can be found. Green Herons, Belted Kingfishers, and Mallards are all common summer residents of Briggs Pond. There is a small wetland on the south side of the pond.

Directions: Click here


(G) Threemile Lake Park ★

Threemile Lake Park is on the east side of a 176-acre lake. The western side of Threemile Lake is mostly undeveloped and covered in forest. The seclusion helps to form an excellent spot for Common Loons, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles to rest.

Directions: Click here


(H) Mrozek Sod Farm ★

A large commercial operation, Mrozek Sod Farm resides on hundreds of acres of grassland habitat for birds. During the summer, many species of birds congregate to feed in the open fields—American Kestrels, American Golden-Plovers, Killdeer, Brewer’s Blackbirds, and Horned Larks can all be seen. From late August to early September, sandpipers can sometimes be sighted. There are many roads with different views of Mrozek Sod Farm where birders can stop and scan with their spotting scope.

Phone: (269) 646-2009
Hours: The office is open on Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm and on Saturday from 8am to 12pm.
Directions: Click here


(I) Little & Big Bankson Lakes ★

The parking area for Little & Big Bankson Lakes is on the south side of 80th Ave, positioned between the two lakes. While a heavily developed shoreline defines Big Bankson Lake, Little Bankson Lake’s surroundings are much more natural. The two lakes are an excellent spot to look for migrating ducks during the early springtime. After the weather warms up, the quality of birding weakens when boats crowd the lake.

Directions: Click here