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, firstname.lastname@example.org.