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Recently, I have started to appreciate the number and diversity of birds in Southwest Michigan. I have known that this area is very popular for bird watching and have had many conversations with bird watchers, however I had not until recently taken much time to really look for or at the birds. Now that I have, a whole new world of interest while outdoors has opened up to me. I do not know the proper names or distinguishing features of many of the birds I see, but I enjoy seeing them.

Southwest Michigan is a great place for birds. The area has many diverse habitats including, dunes, forests, wetlands, meadows and agricultural lands. Moreover, the Lake Michigan coastline creates a wealth of birding opportunities especially during migrations. Many migratory birds follow Lake Michigan's shoreline and as a result area beaches are a great location to view birds especially kinds that you do not often encounter in Michigan.

I really enjoy the fact that whenever I go for a walk outdoors there is a chance to see birds. Recently walking through downtown St. Joseph, I saw a hawk and an owl. I missed a chance to take a photo of the owl but it has my eyes now search for another. When I am at the beach, I love watching sandpipers running along sand and on the piers. During the winter, I am constantly hoping to see a snowy owl. I have several times had the chance to see bald eagles flying over the St. Joseph River. Frequently I see turkeys, herons, cranes, lots of song birds, ducks and more.

My favorite places to look for bird are. Tiscornia Park, Silver Beach County Park, Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, Sarett Nature Center, Jean Klock Park, Warren Dunes State Park, Grand Mere State Park, and when paddling the Paw Paw and Galien Rivers . If you are out enjoying the Makers Trail it is a great chance to look for birds. This year I also hope to check Love Creek Nature Center and Warren Woods State Park. Just about everywhere you look it you pay attention you will see birds.

Rather than hustling to get to the water when I am out I spend more time walking slow, listening and watching. There is so much to see and appreciate in Southwest Michigan.

For more information check out the Berrien County Birding Destinations Map or contact a local nature center like Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve.

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