Spring migration on Michigan’s “sunrise side” is truly a spectacular event to witness. Numerous sites along the Lake Huron shoreline are ideal for observing large numbers of birds as they make their way north. The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail is a terrific way to enjoy all that Michigan’s “sunrise side” has to offer.
The Trail is a joint project between the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and Michigan Audubon intended to bring people closer nature, birds and wildlife. The trail covers a total of 142 miles from Port Crescent State Park on the eastern end to Tawas Point State Park on the western end, and largely follows the shoreline of the entire Saginaw Bay. The distinct change in seasons, diverse habitats, miles of shoreline, plus extensive natural areas with public access make the Trail a birder’s paradise.
The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail has over 20 designated birding hotspots that together feature over 200 bird species depending on the season. A detailed map of the birding locations and Trail can be found online at www.saginawbaybirding.org/birding-trail.html. A beautiful new hard copy birding map is now available and can be mailed by request through the website. The Trail website showcases recent bird sightings, bird photos and 14 additional sites to go birding along the trail.
The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail was made possible by over $16,000 of grant funds and in-kind resources provided by the Bay Area Community Foundation, the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, Michigan Audubon, and the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.
A triple-bottom-line project, the Trail provides a social value for the community by providing well-communicated coordination of existing natural areas to citizens and visitors of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Additionally, it enhances environmental education in the area and allows a variety of agencies to showcase their conservation efforts to a wider audience. Finally, the Trail provides an economic benefit to the Watershed by attracting eco-tourism dollars and enhancing the overall reputation of the Watershed as a high quality place to observe nature.
Birding on the Trail is awe-inspiring due largely to the Saginaw Bay which contains the largest contiguous freshwater coastal wetland system in the United States. As one of the state’s most critical stopover points it is not uncommon to see as many as 75 species in one day on the Trail!
The Saginaw Bay Birding Trail is an ideal self-guided tour for birding your way to Tawas Point State Park for the 9th Annual Tawas Point Birding Festival May 15-18 (www.tawasbirdfest.com). The festival headquarters is located in East Tawas, the Trail’s northernmost stop. Tawas Point Birding Festival participants enjoy some of the best birding in the Great Lakes regions, with a chance to observe 200 bird species in one weekend. Recent sightings at the festival include Kirtland’s Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Piping Plover, Black Tern, American Bald Eagle and many more.
Bird your way to the Tawas Point Birding Festival this year along the new Saginaw Bay Birding Trail—a great way to kick-start your spring species list and explore one of Michigan’s newest birding resources! Michigan Audubon is proud of both opportunities as means to connect birds and people for the benefit of both.