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 Jackson Audubon Society

 The Audubon Society of Jackson County, Michigan

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  • Tuesday, June 18, 2024 10:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We braved the 'heat dome' to visit  Watkins Lake SP Tuesday morning.  Eight JAS members, including four new members, walked the uplands in search of summer grassland species.  

    Storms had just torn through the area the night before and Arnold Rd. was blocked with Consumer's and Jackson County crews working to clear the road and restore power.  Due to the truck & chainsaw noise we started from the southeast entrance and worked the grassland in a clockwise path. 

    A brief stop at the lake got us some swallows, including nesting Northern Rough-winged Swallow, as well as Great Blue Heron and Belted Kingfisher.

    The walk out of the shade and into the sun was not too bad since we had a constant breeze to cool things down.  The Bobolink was spied a long way off on his special geocache singing post.  

    Bobolink (Don Henise)

    The Henslow's Sparrow was much more secretive.  We heard a few, but finally were able to get some good views of one in the western grassland at the top of the hill.  Don was able to get a good shot of one perched on a Common Mullein.  

    Henslow's Sparrow (Don Henise)

    We observed both Orchard & Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Meadowlark,  and of course, lots of Turkey Vultures.  The complete eBird checklist of 36 species is available at

  • Tuesday, June 04, 2024 9:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    After a four-year hiatus, JAS returned to the Oak Openings Metropark in northern Ohio.  The last few tours we had in the late teens were guided by Ohio resident Check Mekbel, who passed away in 2019.  

    The carpool stopped on Sager Rd. for a look around the grassland at the end of the Toledo Airport.  We did not get any really great summer prairie species, but we did observe about a dozen species in our quick stop before meeting the rest of the group.

    (Brenda Wineman)

    A total of eight JAS members drove down to meet a bit before 9 AM.  The Metropark Lodge area had some pretty good activity, including a fruit-loving Red-headed Woodpecker, and several other species enjoying a Serviceberry shrub in season.

    Before heading south to the more open areas, we tried a short walk north to the Mallard Lake area.  

    (Cedar Waxwing and Field Sparrow-Doug Leffler)

    After returning to the car to manage our fluids, we headed south in search of Tanagers.  Well, we didn't get any but we had a nice long walk through some r really great habitat.  There was a Yellow-breasted Chat that was doing the Chat thing-lots of noise but not a lot of good views. Some of the members of the tour got a decent flash look. This species is becoming my Jinx Bird.
    We ended the day with a trip list of 42 species.

    (Monarch caterpillar on Common Milkweed & Wood  Anemone-Brenda Wineman)

    Even when the birds don't show up, there's always lots of other natural features to observe.  I really like plants-not just because they are the foundational set of species that enables us to actually live on this planet,  but also they don't fly.


    Sage Rd grassland:
    Lodge Area:
    Mallard Lake loop:
    Evergreen & Horse Trails:

  • 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

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