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Successful bird walk & open house sheds light on local nature preserve

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The Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary, located in Calhoun County, was the site of a formal program held on June 20 that attracted 23 bird enthusiasts. Birdwatchers from Saginaw, West Bloomfield, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and many other cities from across southern Michigan visited the sanctuary for an organized bird walk led by Michigan Audubon Stewardship Coordinator, Rachelle Roake. They learned about the sanctuary’s history, current habitat management goals, and viewed 46 species of birds, including the Michigan-Threatened Trumpeter Swan.

Friday’s program began at the Baker Sanctuary’s Meadow and Marshland Trailhead, located at 21145 Fifteen Mile Road in Bellevue, Michigan. The trail twists and turns for two miles and covers several unique habitats, including: wetlands, a wildflower prairie, and a floodplain forest.

The clear highlight of the bird walk was the family of Trumpeter Swans. Baker Sanctuary was selected by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a reintroduction site in the 1980’s for the Threatened species. At least one pair of swans has nested and successfully fledged young at the property in 2014. In addition to the swans, participants viewed Swamp Sparrows, Eastern Bluebirds, Yellow Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Green Herons, and a pair of Great-crested Flycatchers tending their nest in an old tree stump.

The Baker Sanctuary is Michigan Audubon’s second-largest nature preserve and home to the largest fall gathering of Sandhill Cranes in Michigan. Sandhill Cranes are celebrated each year during the Sandhill Crane & Art Festival, “CraneFest”, October 11-12, 2014, for more information visit www.cranefest.org.

Volunteer sanctuary stewards are currently being sought to assist with invasive plant management, trail maintenance, small construction projects, and educational outreach programs. If you are interested in volunteering at Baker Sanctuary, please contact Stewardship Coordinator, Rachelle Roake, rroake@michiganaudubon.org.

Crane Viewing Opportunities

Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area and Baker Sanctuary

The Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area, overlooking Baker Sanctuary, will be open for crane-viewing on the following days:

  • October 19 & 20
  • October 26 & 27
  • November 2 & 3
  • November 9 & 10

Viewing of the Sandhill Cranes from the Kiwanis property takes place between 4PM and dusk.  The property is not open on weekdays.

The street address for the Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area is:
22300 15 Mile Rd 
Bellevue, Michigan 49021

The following popular online mapping options show the location of the event site and allow users to get directions by entering the address of your current location:

GOOGLE MAPS – CraneFest

YAHOO! MAPS – CraneFest

MAPQUEST – CraneFest

Phyllis Haehlne Memorial Sanctuary in Jackson County

The sanctuary is open to the public every day from dawn to dusk for crane viewing. However on the weekends a member of the Jackson Audubon Society will be on hand from 4 PM to dusk to assist anyone interested in viewing cranes.

Additionally, the Annual Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Festival also known as Cranes, Colors and Cabernet is schedule for Saturday, October 19th from noon until dusk.  One-hour guided tours to the north side of Mud Lake Marsh will be given at 12 (noon) and 2 PM.  At 4:30 PM Jackson Audubon members will lead car pool tours around Jackson County to see the cranes up close as they feed in the surrounding farm fields.  The car pool will return to Haehnle in time to see the cranes return to Mud Lake Marsh to roost for the evening.

Haehnle Sanctuary is located across the road from 9011 Seymour Rd., Grass Lake, MI  49240

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