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Posts tagged ‘Baker Sanctuary’

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


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

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,

Fall Crane Viewing in Southern Michigan

October through November

Sandhill Crane viewing takes place at locations throughout southern lower Michigan.  We recommend visiting Haehnle Sanctuary in Jackson County and the Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary in Calhoun County.  Both properties are owned and managed by Michigan Audubon.

Fall Crane Viewing Details:

  • Crane viewing at the Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area, adjacent to Baker Sanctuary, begins the weekend after CraneFest, October 19 and 20.  Crane viewing continues every Saturday and Sunday through November 10.  Hours for crane viewing are from 4:00PM – dusk .

    • The Sandhill Cranes at Big Marsh Lake (Baker Sanctuary) are usually 100 – 200 yards in the distance.  Spectacular views of birds can be had with the naked eye, but binoculars will enhance the viewing experience.  Photographers enjoy this site because of the proximity of the viewing station to the birds.
  • Crane viewing at Michigan Audubon’s Phyllis Haehnle Sanctuary in Jackson County (located across the road from 9011 Seymour Rd., Grass Lake, MI  49240) occurs daily from dawn until dusk.  Members of the Haehnle Stewardship Committee of Jackson Audubon will be available on weekends beginning at 4:00 PM in October and the first two weekends in November to assist visitors with finding Sandhill Cranes.  The additional opportunity to see an Endangered Whooping Crane may exist at Haehnle Sanctuary.
  • The Sandhill Cranes at Haehnle Sanctuary are usually a quarter-mile in the distance.  Binoculars or a spotting scope are highly recommended for watching the birds are this site.

    • On October 19 join members of the Haehnle Stewardship Committee of Jackson Audubon for Cranes, Colors, and Cabernet.  This event will include guided hikes of Haehnle Sanctuary, car caravan tours to see Sandhill Cranes feeding, crane natural history lectures, and the evening fly-in of cranes to Mud Lake Marsh. Sandhill Crane Vineyards, 4724 Walz Road, Jackson, will pre-release their 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon just for the day. It will be available for tasting and purchasing just this day and then goes back into storage until its normal January release. The winery will be open until 7:30 PM this day only.

CraneFest 2014

Saturday & Sunday

October 11 & 12

The Sandhill Crane and Art Festival, “CraneFest XX,” begins at Noon on Saturday, October 11, 2014.  The festival is held at the Kiwanis Youth Conservation Area, adjacent to the Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary.

CraneFest would not be possible without our generous partners, the Kiwanis Club of Battle Creek.  The use of the Kiwanis Youth and Conservation Area makes it possible for visitors to see the cranes fly in and experience other intriguing wildlife in Big Marsh Lake.  Although most of Big Marsh Lake lies within Michigan Audubon’s Bernard W. Baker Sanctuary, the wetland is not visible from the sanctuary itself.  The Conservation and Youth Area provides a great overlook of Big Marsh Lake and is an ideal location for nature hikes and casual wildlife study.


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