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 Jackson Audubon Society

 The Audubon Society of Jackson County, Michigan

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  • Tuesday, May 07, 2024 8:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    JAS members drove down to Ohio for our annual visit to Magee Marsh during the Greatest Week in American Birding celebration.  Four of us carpooled down and met up with other members for a walk on the warbler-rich boardwalk. 

    White Pelican (Shikha Singh)

    While the weather was good this year, the warblers were not out in great numbers.  We got only 8 of them. Doug was able to get some clos shots of a Prothonotary that was nesting near the boardwalk.

    Prothonotary Warblers (Doug Leffler)

    After a tailgate lunch, we headed over to the Ottawa NWR and did an 8-mile  drive through the dike roads.  There were lots of egrets & eagles but just a few shorebirds.

    Bald Eagle (Shikha Singh)

    Lesser Yellowlegs(Shikha Singh)

    We finished up the trip with a visit to the Howard Marsh Metropark.  By this time the weather was threatening but we were able to get a good look at Black-necked Stilt which frequent this location.

    Black-necked Stilt (Shikha Singh)

    eBird Trip Checklist available 

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2024 10:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We've restarted our annual trip to The Nature Conservancy's jewel of Washtenaw County-Nan Weston Preserve.  Joann Ballbach returned as our guide and we scheduled it just in time as the trails were closed this year, but opened a few days before this scheduled event.

    Thirteen members came out for the event.  I'll let the pictures speak for the tour.  [Note: Don's Wood Thrush was shot before the tour started so is not on the official list.]  As always, an eBird list follows.

    (Group, swamp, May Apples, stream, and ragwort -Doug Leffler)

    (Northern Map Turtle, Wood Frog, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Wood Thrush-Don Henise)

    (Fern frond, Jack-in-the-pulpit, and Dutchman's Britches-Brenda Wineman)

    eBird trip list at

  • Tuesday, April 16, 2024 7:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We had great weather for our tour of the Muskegon Wastewater Treatment System.   Eight JAS members drove over to the facility to drive the ponds.

    Our last JAS tour was in 2018 where we recorded 32 species. This year we got 47, including 17 species of wildfowl, 5 gulls, and 2 shorebirds. There were large numbers of Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, and Bufflehead.   Lots of the usual species including Canada Goose.  This one has  made what might look like a safe nest site from predation,  but that's an aerator blade she's picked.

     The facility is a series of ponds processing water at various stages of the treatment program.   Several ponds contain aerators which are just giant blenders that add oxygen to the water, while others are static pools, some very large.


    While our shorebird count here was a bit skinny, we did get 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Glaucus Gull.  This is a fabulous place to see waterfowl, gulls, and shorebirds.   At times you may find yourself between a landfill and treated wastewater, the birds are so very happy to be there.  And it is know for hosting many, many species-it is rate #5 in Michigan by eBird data.

    After the pond tours, we headed down for lunch at Turk's Tavern.  It's a great place to eat and should be a required stop after a hard morning under the sun and against the wind.

    The Jackson contingent of the group headed back to the carpool lot but then stopped for a few pond visits in Calhoun county on the way (see shorebird count of 2, above).  We picked up Trumpeter Swan, Dunlin, Yellowlegs (Lesser & Greater) and Pectoral Sandpiper.

    Our total stats for the day were 55 species including 19 waterfowl, 6 shorebirds,  & 5 gulls.

    Our Trip Report is available at

  • Saturday, April 06, 2024 6:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Well, we had a much better turnout, species count, and weather than last year's waterfowl tour.  Fourteen JAS members and family turned out for a five stop tour of Jackson Counties wonderful lakes.  

    We started at Watkins Lake State Park on the eastern border of the county near Manchester.  This was the longest stop, but also the largest and most productive.  

    Watkins Lake (Steve Jerant)

    We observed 41 taxa including 13 waterfowl species.  Of note were a Merganser hat trick (Common/Hooded/Red-breasted), 2 Canvasback, Wilson's Snipe, and what would be our first Horned Grebe.    The usual suspects were also out in force: Ruddy Duck, Ring-necked Duck, and coming in for  several landings over our head, the Canada Goose. 

    (Doug Leffler)

    Next, we caravanned over to Little Wolf Lake which was our least active stop of the morning.  Our only Great Blue Heron was spotted here.

    Driving north, we next stopped at Grass Lake for a view from the playground park.  Here we tallied a Redhead, Common Goldeneye, and American Wigeon.

    Moving on to the Portage Lake County Park, we no longer had the sun in our eyes but had the wind in our face.  It took a lot of squinting and head bobbing with the waves but finally had some decent view of a Common Loon. We also got more Horned Grebe. 

    The last stop was the jackpot.  Driving north on Welch Lake Rd. off Seymour is a great wildfowl spot called Cutler & Dunn Rd. wetland.  This is usually a very reliable location for Northern Pintail.  It get 5 stars today with an estimated 300 Pintail joined by scores of Green-wing Teal.  We counted 19 species, of which 12 were waterfowl.  Three Lesser Yellowlegs joined the gang of ducks in the water. 

    Cutler & Dunn Rds. wetland (Steve Jerant)

    An eBird trip report of the five checklists is available at

  • Friday, March 22, 2024 12:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Well, the tour description said it would be a Michigan March-and that it was.  The temperature was about at freezing and windy.  But fifteen of us bundled up to stand in a dark grassland on Riethmiller road to see and hear the annual mating ritual of the American Woodcock (Scolopax minor).  While we waited for the show to begin, we had some wonderful views of the sunset that Doug & Nolan were able to capture for us.

    Waterloo sunset (Doug Leffler)

    Waterloo sunset (Nolan Williams)

    We heard Eastern Meadowlark, Ring-necked Pheasant, and an owl that we could not agree on.  Once the peent sounds started a bit after 8PM,  they kept up.  Our estimate was 6-8 individuals.  In addition to the peents, we heard the preflight call and then the winnowing call made during flight.  There were many flights for a good half hour or so.  Only a few of us got a decent took at any birds in flight.  One of our group had her first sighting & hearing of a woodcock.

    As often happens at this location, there is often one of these little guys that just hangs out on the path, like he's waiting for us to leave.  By this time there were only four of us left, but it was work the wait.  We got great views of this bold  bachelor.

    American Woodcock (Nolan Williams)

    Our trip checklist is available on eBird at

  • Wednesday, March 06, 2024 8:00 AM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    I was awoken Tuesday to thunder and thought that we'd be cancelling our walk at Leonard Preserve in Manchester. But the 10 AM time slot schedule was perfect.  As we all arrived the sky opened up a bit and soon we were even able to see that glowing globe in the sky.

    Five members of JAS took a walk along the Raisin River and adjoining riparian forest and grasslands.  Joanne Ballbach has returned to leading tours and she showed us plants and galls that are readily visible and identifiable in the winter.

    Raisin River- Doug Leffler

    The only waterfowl in or near the river were three Wood ducks.  There were lots of woodpeckers working the trees and we got an early Red-headed.

    Steve Jerant

    Our eBird list is available at

  • Sunday, February 25, 2024 7:34 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    On Friday, February 23rd Helena Robinovitz passed away. She, along with her late husband Stew, were long time supporters of Jackson Audubon and Haehnle Sanctuary. Arrangement information is available at Cole Funeral Chapel.

    Helena Marie Robinovitz obituary, Chelsea, MI

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024 6:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Our day got started with a nice adult Red-shouldered Hawk flying over the parking lot as we were getting organized. Other highlights were Red Crossbills on the red trail, 6 woodpecker species including 2 Pileated Woodpeckers, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hermit Thrush, Brown Creepers, Golden-crowned Kinglet, singing Song Sparrows, and calling Red-breasted Nuthatches.

    Hermit Thrush

    On the way back to the cars, Robyn found the Townsend's Solitaire. It was on the red trail just 150 yards north of the parking lot. We had a total of 33 species and nice weather.

    Red Crossbill

    eBird list, including photos by Mike Bowen:

    All photos by Don Henise

  • Tuesday, February 13, 2024 4:31 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Nineteen JAS members braved the cold on Tuesday to walk the Fay Lake Rd. Trail on the western boundary of Watkins Lake SP.  The trail is very easy as it is an old RR grade and for a good part of it you are several feet above ground level.  Parking is a bit tricky but there is usually space for a few cars on the road. 

    The trail goes through wooded swamp and can be very good for winter birds.  The group had a good weather and a good turnout, of humans, including some young birders.  

    See Don's trip list on eBird

  • Saturday, December 23, 2023 11:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

     The 55th annual Waterloo State Rec Area Christmas Bird Count took place on December 16th, 2023. We had 35 participants out in the field and 3 feeder watchers, and ended up with both a record species count and a record individual bird count. The weather for the day was seasonally mild with a low temperature of 39 early in the morning and a high of 47 in the afternoon. Winds were light from the southwest and cloud cover was heavy with a few blue portals in the early morning hours.

        The old species record was 72 from 2001. This year our teams counted 81 species. That's 9 more than our previous high count, so that's quite incredible. Two of those 81 species were recorded on the Waterloo Count for the first time: Ross's Goose - two were found in a corn stubble field on Mt. Hope Road near the Grass Lake water tower by Ross Green and Mike Bowen; and a male Baltimore Oriole, reported by Lathe Claflin and Bill and Charity Steere, that had been coming to a private feeder in Waterloo Township for close to a month leading up to the count.

    (Bill&Charity Steere)

        Other rare sightings for the CBC (seen on less than 10 counts) were 1 Snow Goose (2), 4 Gadwall (5), 4 Red-breasted Mergansers (4), 13 Bonaparte's Gulls (7), 1 Golden Eagle (7), 3 Short-eared Owls (9),  1 Merlin (7), and 2 Red Crossbills (2). The number in parenthesis is the number of counts on which the species has been reported out of 55.

    (both: Mike Bowen)

    Birds seen on 10 to 20 counts included 8 Trumpeter Swan (11), 3 Wood Duck (12), 4 Ring-necked Ducks (12), 30 Bufflehead (15), 2 Common Goldeneye (16), 197 Hooded Mergansers (12), 14 Common Mergansers (10), 1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet (11), 1 Winter Wren (14), 2 Field Sparrows (15), 22 Rusty Blackbirds (17) and 2 Common Redpolls (18).  Some other birds of note were 33 American Black Ducks (24), 10 Bald Eagles (21), 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker(21), and 3 Hermit Thrushes (23).  

        The Rusty Blackbirds were part of a mixed group of blackbirds, found along Dalton Road by Joyce Peterson and team, which also included 20 Red-winged Blackbirds, 20 Common Grackles and 30 Brown-headed Cowbirds. The mild temperatures gave us a lot of open water which contributed to our high species count. In addition to the unusual geese mentioned above, 10 species of ducks were found on count day - Wood Duck, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, and all 3 species of Merganser - Hooded, Red-breasted and Common.

    (Great Horned Owl:  Mike Bowen)

        With the mild weather, most passerines were reported in only average numbers, but we still managed a record count of 13,731 individual birds (The old record was 12,331 in 2020).  The non-passerine species with record high numbers were: 4 Gadwall (tied), 33 American Black Duck, 197 Hooded Merganser and 4 Red-shouldered Hawks. The only passerine with a record high count was Carolina Wren with 24 counted. Other high counts, but not records, were Canada Geese - 2312, Great Blue Heron - 10, Bald Eagle - 10, and European Starling - 2625. Sandhill Cranes numbers have remained high in the area into December with 3507 counted, but still well short of the 2020's record of 5508.

    (Red-shouldered hawk:  Gary Mason)

        One low count that should be noted is that only 2 Wild Turkeys were found in the count circle on count day. This is quite unusual given the number of turkeys that are seen in the Waterloo area throughout the year.  Horned Lark was the one big miss for the count with none found this year. That species has been recorded on 45 of the 55 counts. I only have one additional species to add as a count week bird - Pine Siskin. Count Week birds are species not seen or heard during the count, but are found on either the 3 days before or after the count day. Statistically they really don't mean anything for the historical count data, but a fun way to record birds found while scouting that were missed on count day or found after the count was completed.

        A big thank you to all of the area leaders and all those who participated to help make this a successful Christmas Bird Count. The date for the 56th Waterloo CBC will be Saturday, December 14th, 2024. We are planning to reinstate the post count dinner and tabulation meeting next year so stay tuned to the Jackson Audubon events page for details.

    CBC Compiler,

    Don Henise

    Full Species List:

    Species                                             Total

    Snow Goose                                      1

    Ross's Goose                                     2

    Canada Goose                                   2312

    Mute Swan                                         57

    Trumpeter Swan                                 8

    Wood Duck                                        3

    Gadwall                                             4

    American Black Duck                          33

    Mallard                                              239

    Ring-necked Duck                              4

    Bufflehead                                          30

    Common Goldeneye                           2

    Hooded Merganser                             197

    Common Merganser                           14

    Red-breasted Merganser                    4

    duck sp.                                             5

    Ring-necked Pheasant                        1

    Wild Turkey                                       2

    Great Blue Heron                                10

    Golden Eagle                                     1

    Northern Harrier                                 3

    Sharp-shinned Hawk                          1

    Cooper's Hawk                                   3

    accipiter species                                1

    Bald Eagle                                         10

    Red-shouldered Hawk                        4

    Red-tailed Hawk                                 75

    Rough-legged Hawk                           3

    Sandhill Crane                                    3507

    Bonaparte's Gull                                 4

    Ring-billed Gull                                   320

    Herring Gull                                        15

    gull sp.                                               4

    Rock Pigeon                                      194

    Mourning Dove                                   625

    Eastern Screech-Owl                          6

    Great Horned Owl                              7

    Barred Owl                                         3

    Short-eared Owl                                 3

    Belted Kingfisher                                4

    Red-headed Woodpecker                   7

    Red-bellied Woodpecker                     69

    Yellow-bellied Sapsucker                    1

    Downy Woodpecker                           76

    Hairy Woodpecker                              27

    Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker        31

    Pileated Woodpecker                          12

    American Kestrel                                6

    Merlin                                                1

    Northern Shrike                                  1

    Blue Jay                                            301

    American Crow                                   335

    Black-capped Chickadee                    293

    Tufted Titmouse                                 115

    Red-breasted Nuthatch                       5

    White-breasted Nuthatch                    129

    Brown Creeper                                   8

    Winter Wren                                       1

    Carolina Wren                                    24

    Golden-crowned Kinglet                      7

    Ruby-crowned Kinglet                         1

    Eastern Bluebird                                 144

    Hermit Thrush                                    3

    American Robin                                  309

    European Starling                              2543

    Cedar Waxwing                                  109

    American Tree Sparrow                      245

    Field Sparrow                                     2

    Dark-eyed (Slate-colored) Junco         402

    White-throated Sparrow                      4

    Song Sparrow                                    9

    Swamp Sparrow                                 10

    Northern Cardinal                               117

    Red-winged Blackbird                         22

    Rusty Blackbird                                  22

    Common Grackle                               20

    Brown-headed Cowbird                       30

    Baltimore Oriole                                 1

    House Finch                                       91

    Purple Finch                                       19

    Red Crossbill                                     1

    Common Redpoll                                2

    Pine Siskin                                         cw

    American Goldfinch                            120

    House Sparrow                                  335

    Number  of species                            81

    Number of individuals                         13731

    cw – count week bird not seen on count day

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