T1 - Fish Point State Wildlife Area
Fish Point is a popular spot in the Saginaw Bay Area for observing thousands of Tundra Swans and Canada Geese each spring. There is no one secret spot to direct those wishing to see birds at Fish Point because the food supplies in many of the fields varies from year-to-year. The best strategy is to drive the roads in search of large feeding flocks in the corn stubble that is left from the previous year. Some areas are worth a look each year because they provide views of extensive field habitat or contain other interesting habitats which attract non-waterfowl species consistently.
H1 - Sand Point Nature Preserve
The Sand Point Nature Preserve is made up of approximately 220 acres and includes 5 miles of well established trails. The Preserve is home to many dozens of bird species including: Sandhill Cranes, Great Egrets, Wood Ducks, Great Blue Herons, songbirds of all varieties, and Bald Eagles. The adequate parking, improved trails, boardwalk, and excellent wayfinding signage make a hike in the Preserve a must-do for birders in Huron County. Situated at the base of the Sand Point peninsula, the Preserve experiences the same kind of “migratory trap” phenomenon as better known peninsulas on the west Saginaw Bay coast. With two emergent wetlands, a hemlock grove, an open meadow area, a 40-acre lake, and a wide mix of deciduous and coniferous habitats, there may not be a better, more complex birding spot in the area. Bald Eagles and Sandhill Cranes nest annually. In a two-year study completed in 2013, the Sand Point Nature Preserve was also found to be the most biodiverse land under protection along the Saginaw Bay shoreline in terms of herpetofauna (snakes, turtles, and frogs).
H2 - Caseville Municipal Marina
The Marina is a gateway to the Saginaw Bay and offers a jetty that can be used for lakewatching. This area receives high traffic during Caseville’s Cheeseburger Festival, held in August annually, but offers great birding opportunities throughout the year. Notable sightings in recent years include: Little Gull, Red-necked Grebe, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter, Red-throated Loon, Black-bellied Plover, and White-winged Crossbill. A great place to check for migrating waterfowl, raptors, and shorebirds.
H3 - Albert E. Sleeper State Park
Albert E. Sleeper State Park is located on M-25, just a few miles northeast of Caseville. Encompassing over 700 acres, this park hosts a wide variety of habitats where woodland areas, dunes, wetlands, and coastline are all within walking distance. A wide variety of bird are here throughout the year, but during the spring and fall, raptors frequent the northern tip of the Thumb as they make their way up or down the Mississippi Flyway.
H4 - Huron County Nature Center
The Huron Wilderness Arboretum is a 120-acre tract that is part of the Huron County Nature Center property. Its variety of habitats makes it an ideal location to spot a variety of birds. Improved trails, boardwalks, and interpretive signage support the Arboretum, and the visitor center includes a gift shop and educational materials.
H5 - Port Crescent State Park
Huron County’s best known birding location, Port Crescent State Park, is renowned for raptor observation during migration. The location near the tip of the Thumb makes this one of the SBA’s best birding hotspots. In 1991, an annual hawk count was established at this location and continues to this day, with a dedicated raptor observation deck with interpretive elements. The park is also excellent for water birds and passerines. Its unique location at the tip of the Thumb means that good numbers of birds collect here in spring and fall. Snowy Egret, Prairie Warbler, Henslow’s Sparrow, and Red Crossbill have been detected here during that time. More regular species of interest include Forster’s Tern, Great Black-backed Gull (which may be seen year-round) and Glaucous Gulls (often lingering into late April and early May).
H6 -Port Austin State Harbor
The Harbor is a marina operated by the Michigan DNR and features a dog beach, public restrooms, and a welcome center. Over 135 species have been observed here, including: Red-throated Loon, Spotted Sandpiper, Ruddy Turnstone, Greater White-fronted Goose, and many more. A great place to look for shorebirds and migrating waterfowl.