Birding is a popular pastime for residents and visitors alike. According to the Michigan Audubon Society, one can find more than 450 bird species on Michigan's many birding trails, state parks and recreation areas, and more.
One of the best attributes of being in a Great Lakes State is that Kalamazoo offers spectacular and unique birding experiences for all four seasons.
Kalamazoo's two great outdoor attractions are also some of the best birding spots! The W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary and the Kalamazoo Nature Center are open to the public, but each does require an admission fee, so keep that in mind! A bonus to visiting these attractions is that they often offer guided nature walks, intro to birding sessions, etc.
For more bird watching events and programming, check out the Audobon Society of Kalamazoo. They have been a part of the Kalamazoo community since 1945 and offer bird and nature programs and birding field trips to local and regional natural areas.
W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
The W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is a unique wildlife center offering conservation-focused public programs, interpretive tours, and accessible trails that allow close views of captive and wild birds.
- Journey a paved, ¾ mile accessible trail to Wintergreen Lake to see hundreds of waterfowl in their natural habitat, including Trumpeter Swans, Canada Geese and a variety of duck species
- Birds of Prey enclosures feature both rare and common raptors, including Bald Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, Eastern Screech Owls and others
- The Leslie E. Tassel upland game bird display houses threatened and endangered species from Michigan and from around the world
- A Pollinator Garden that uses native plants to attract hummingbirds and butterflies
Kalamazoo Nature Center
The Kalamazoo Nature Center includes over 1,100 acres of forest, wetland, and prairie with miles of trails. The Visitor Center is home to award-winning exhibits, with a wide variety of programs for all ages and interests.
Wander these trails for various birding opportunities:
- Prairie Pathway Loops - Look for bluebirds and swallows at the nest boxes.
- Arboretum Loop - Enjoy accessible pathways that lead to the Hummingbird-Butterfly Garden.
- Beech Maple - Hike through an old-growth beech-maple forest along a stream. Spring wildflowers bloom abundantly and owls can be heard.
- River Walk - Follow Trout Run to where it empties into the Kalamazoo River. Discover aquatic life in the stream or watch birds along the river.
Kleinstuck Nature Preserve
The Kalamazoo Audubon Society recommends Kleinstuck Nature Preserve for spring birding, with the peak time being late April and early May, before the trees leaf out. In 31 spring surveys, they have recorded 205 species of birds, including 38 warbler species.
Bow in the Clouds Preserve
Another excellent birding location in Kalamazoo that's less well-known is Bow in the Clouds Preserve. Bow in the Clouds is a Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserve. This nature preserve is located just outside the downtown city limits and is approximately 60 acres.
The highlight of this preserve is the extensive spring-fed wetlands that help protect the water quality of the City of Kalamazoo’s well fields just downstream. The wetlands are a diverse mix of sedge meadow, cattail marsh, wet meadow, shrub care, and swamp forest.
A packed gravel loop trail leads from the parking area to a viewing platform with breathtaking views of the marsh below. A narrow dirt trail leads visitors down a slope and over a wooden bridge to a boardwalk through a large wetland from that loop. A short out-and-back trail leads from the path to a small pond attractive to waterfowl.
Make sure to check out the Kalamazoo Audubon Society website for information on their weekly nature walks.