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Around the Lakes: Trails to follow for the best view of birds

Around the Lakes: Trails to follow for the best view of birds
June 29, 2022 Natasha Blakely

A lakeside view and twittering morning avian chorus make for a great combination, and all along the Great Lakes there are plenty of great locations to experience both those things.

Installing a bird feeder is an easy way to enjoy birds right outside your door, but county parks and birding walks are a great way to learn about birds too, Kimberly Kaufman said in an interview with Great Lakes Now. Kaufman is the executive director of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory headquartered in Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Great Lakes Now talked to Kaufman in a recent segment of The Catch, which featured the Great Lake Erie Birding Trail, a trail network with a mobile passport component, created by recreation and tourism organization Destination Toledo.

Watch the segment here:

“If you don’t have space to enjoy birds at home, getting out to a county park, doing some research on whether there are some birding outings in your area offered by county parks, Audubon Centers, joining a walk with other birders is a really fun way to be part of a community and to learn more about birds from birders who are already experienced,” Kaufman said.

She also added that binoculars, while by no means necessary for birding, can be a real advantage when trying to enjoy birds.

And for those who can’t make the trek to Lake Erie, there are trails to explore around each of the Great Lakes, along with plenty of smaller local trails.

Great Lakes Now compiled a list of some of the larger trails to check out. Click on their titles to visit their websites and download maps.

Great Lakes Birding Trails:

This trail connects the best birding sites that surround Lake Erie’s Western Basin – particularly for warblers and songbirds – including Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Erie Marsh Nature Preserve, Kelleys Island State Park, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Point Pelee National Park. There’s even a free mobile passport for it for ease of navigating.

Don’t confuse this trail with the previous one on this list; they are not the same. The Lake Erie Birding Trail comes from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and features Ohio’s best birding spots along the Lake Erie shoreline to spot your favorite marsh birds and waterbirds.

From the Wisconsin DNR, the Lake Superior/Northwoods Birding and Nature Trail covers Wisconsin’s 18 northern counties and includes stops like Big Bay State Park, Fish Creek Slough, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Port Wing Boreal Forest State Natural Area.

Along the bird-shaped trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, warblers and raptors abound. Stops include Whitefish Point and Tahquamenon Falls State Park Rivermouth Campgrounds on one wing of the trail.

The largest island on Lake Michigan is not only a favored destination for humans, but birds too, like the endangered piping plover. The trail includes spots like Whiskey Point Lighthouse, Little Sand Bay Preserve and Iron Ore Bay.

Watch Great Lakes Now’s segment on piping plovers here:

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy and Michigan Audubon developed this trail together, which runs from Port Crescent State Park to Tawas Point State Park. Alternatively, you can pretty much follow Saginaw Bay’s shoreline to hit each of the spots, and then continue on to the Sunrise Coast Birding Trail if it isn’t enough for you.

Centered around Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Sleeping Bear Birding Trail follows all of M-22, which runs from Manistee to Traverse City. You can find the beloved Great Lakes endangered piping plover here too.

The North Huron Birding Trail comprises five zones along the Upper Peninsula’s Lake Huron shoreline: St. Ignace, Les Cheneaux Area, DeTour, Drummond Island and Pickford Grassland Area. This trail has one of the most diverse bird populations, with warblers and terns, loons and ospreys, and a lot more.

Explore the mouth of the AuSable River, Mackinaw City, Alpena and everything in between on the Sunrise Coast trail. The trail covers Michigan’s northeast coast along Lake Huron, and even connects to the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail.

This Canada-focused trail covers the Ontario side of Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair shorelines and includes locations like Point Pelee National Park, St. Clair National Wildlife Area, Rock Point Provincial Park and Pinery Provincial Park. Ducks, killdeer and warblers are just a small selection of the birds you can find along the trail.


Catch more news at Great Lakes Now:

Endangered piping plovers are recovering but still need human help

Great Lakes Moment: Rewilding Metropolitan Detroit


Featured image: A family spots birds together during the 2019 Biggest Week in American Birding at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area. (Photo Credit: James Proffitt)

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