B1 - Discovery Preserve at Euclid Park
Formerly known as the Euclid Linear Park, Discovery Preserve is an oasis of nature in urban Bay City! Serving as the “hub” of the SBBT, Discovery Preserve is a 12-acre, family-friendly learning landscape where you can find all the resources you need to tackle the SBBT. The site is a great birding spot all on its own, where you can find the usual urban species and see our Chimney Swift structure, Wood Duck nesting boxes, Chickadee houses, and Eastern Bluebird boxes. The wetlands at Discovery Preserve are home to many waterfowl, as well as Great Egrets, Green, Great Blue, and Black-crowned Night Herons. Make Discovery Preserve, just a few miles off I-75, your first stop on the Saginaw Bay Birding Trail!
B2 - Middlegrounds Island
With a City of Bay City park, the Bay City Rowing Center, and the Michigan Sugar Trails mountain biking network, Middlegrounds Island is an outdoor recreation haven. Just south of Lafayette Street, the Michigan Sugar Trails site provides excellent opportunities to view warblers and other spring migrants. Although designed for mountain biking, the single-track trails are excellent for a birding hike right in the middle of the City. During the winter months, a small pocket of open water, created by a warm water discharge, located on the eastern channel of the Saginaw River provides a daily distraction for birders all winter long. When the Saginaw River is frozen, sightings in all months of the winter at this location include many Mergansers (Common, Hooded, and Red-breasted), Mallards, American Black Ducks, and occasionally Horned Grebes, Northern Pintails, Canvasbacks, and other traditional Michigan ducks. The adjacent woodlands are also home to Bald Eagles. Views of the river from the Bay City Rowing Center and Bigelow Park, located north of Lafayette Street, allow excellent views of gulls, terns, waterfowl, Great Egrets, and Great Blue and Black-crowned Night Herons.
B3 - Golson Nature Area
Two Bald Eagle nests and over 1,000 feet of undeveloped Saginaw River frontage makes Golson an unusual pocket in the center of Bay City. Near Downtown, Golson is also right around the corner from Tri-City Brewery, and just across the River from the U.S.S. Edson. With excellent parking, a large gazebo shelter, and a network of trails and boardwalks, the 26-acre Golson Nature Area is a fun stop to see woodpeckers, gulls, nesting songbirds, and the resident Bald Eagles throughout the year. Overwintering Eastern Bluebirds make the winter go by faster, and a pocket of open water on the opposite side of the River, near the Edson, make for interesting sightings when the River is frozen.
B4 - Quanicassee State Wildlife Area
Located just off of M-25, Quanicassee State Wildlife Area is 1,922 acres of grassland and wetland along Lake Huron. The area is specifically managed for Bobolinks, Mallards, and Ring-necked Pheasants. Nearly 100 species have been recorded here, including: Black-crowned Night-heron, Sora, Willow Flycatcher, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Bay-breasted Warbler, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Yellow-headed Blackbird.
B5 - Hampton Township Nature Trail
Completed in 2013, the Hampton Township Nature Trail provides three access points and covers over two miles on firm paved or crushed rock surface through a coastal wooded habitat known for exemplary warbler flocks during migration. An undiscovered gem for birders, this new trail is an exciting amenity for Bay County and should be on every birder’s spring and fall warbler hotspot list.
B6 - Bay City State Recreation Area
The Bay City State Recreation Area contains more than 1,000 feet of sandy beach and is made up of 2,800 acres with 7 miles of well-groomed trails to check out. The birding in this area is particularly distinguished in the spring and fall migratory seasons, and with a documented collection of 235 species viewed here, it is a notable birding hot spot. A fine locale for observing shorebirds, gulls, terns, and herons. Passing and nesting songbirds make the deep forest their haunt throughout the year, with Carolina Wren and Prothonotary and Hooded Warbler among the more interesting records from this part of the park.
B7 - Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area
Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area is one of the most visited areas in Saginaw Bay for water birds. It is also home to one of the oldest and largest colonies of Yellow-headed Blackbirds in the state. In the spring and fall, Nayanquing is home to huge numbers of migrating waterfowl and smaller numbers of gulls and shorebirds. Such finds as Trumpeter Swan, Greater White-fronted Goose, Cinnamon Teal, Arctic Tern, Little, Franklin’s, Laughing and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, and Long-tailed Jaeger have been noted in recent years. Many waterfowl are seen in the summer months as this area also hosts a wide variety of nesting ducks. Additional interesting residents include Pied-billed Grebe, Black-crowned Night Heron, American and Least Bitterns, Common Moorhen, Black and Forster’s Terns, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, and Willow Flycatcher.
B8 - Pinconning County Park
Pinconning County Park offers a good vantage point of the lake and woodlot area and hosts a variety of nesting birds and migrant passerines. Trails cut through the majority of the park. The trails that head south from the parking area pass through oak uplands and wet forest bottom land, and resident species found here include Ruffed Grouse, Brown Creeper, and Wood Thrush. The trails work their way to the Pinconning River mouth. Check the channel markers for gulls and terns. Forster’s Terns are common, and Little Gulls have also been seen here in migration. The trails just west of the picnic area travel through woodlots that are still wet in May and host a good variety of warblers. There is an observation tower located just north of the picnic area where waterfowl may be viewed. Tundra Swans, dabblers, and divers may be seen here in October and November.
B9 - Pinconning Nature Preserve
Pinconning Nature Preserve is comprised of 38.5 acres that provide significant natural habitat including a variety of wetland ecotypes providing important benefits for wildlife and water quality. The habitat allows for biodiverse vegetation, birds, fish, and terrestrial animals. In addition, the corridor wetlands and upland wildlife habitats serve as a connection for wildlife movement and create a natural “greenway” within a ¼ mile of Lake Huron. The property is home to many species of wildlife common to Michigan including songbirds, waterfowl, white-tailed deer, amphibians, and reptiles. A 1.1 mile trail system leads through the Preserve to the river. The Preserve is also designated by the MDEQ as an Environmental Area.
B10 - Wah Sash Kah Moqua Nature Preserve
Wah Sash Kah Moqua Nature Preserve is on Bay-Arenac County Line Road, a few miles southeast of Standish. A former farming location, the 123 acres now provide a mix of grassland and emergent wooded habitat. Nesting Northern Harriers are common at Wah Sash, and the mature windbreak treeline is a combination of mighty oaks, cherries, and maples, providing cover and food for songbirds. Many nesting Eastern Kingbirds along the south boundary of the main, central parcel often provide an entertaining show for visitors. Flocks of Cedar Waxwings are omnipresent, along with the resident Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows (there are many habitat boxes along the trail network). Great Horned Owls nest on the property periodically, and Red-shouldered Hawks have been sighted here during migration. A fantastic road-end provides clear views to the Saginaw Bay shoreline for gulls, terns, and waders at the end of Bay-Arenac County Line Road.