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 Jackson Audubon Society

 The Audubon Society of Jackson County, Michigan

  • 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

  • Monday, November 27, 2023 7:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 11/27/2023

    The winter snowstorm that arrived this weekend has sent our cranes on their southern journey.  Observations on the overlook this afternoon were impacted a bit by the light snow falling in the hours before sunset.  There was good traffic coming into the marsh until just a bit before 5 PM.  Then some of the settled cranes flew out of the marsh, while others were coming in. There was a maximum of just 262 cranes in but I finished at just 182 roosting overnight.

    I did not detect any open water in Mud Lake Marsh, but Eagle Lake was wide open and about 150 Ring Neck Duck were seen.

    With the temperatures low for the next week and the marsh frozen, tonight’s observation will be the last of the season.

    The complete eBird checklist is here:

    Counters: Steve Jerant
    Compiler: Steve Jerant
    Total Cranes Roosting:  182

  • Monday, November 20, 2023 8:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 11/20/2023
    By Don Henise

    Sandhill Crane activity has picked up this week with 531 cranes counted flying into the marsh for the night. A thousand or more cranes were also seen dropping into the property to the north of the sanctuary.

    Good numbers of waterfowl continue to use Mud Lake. A total of 26 species were observed at the sanctuary Monday evening. The complete eBird checklist is here:

    Counters: Don & Robyn Henise, Ross Green, and Gary Siegrist

    Compiler: Don Henise

    Total Cranes Roosting:  531

  • Tuesday, November 14, 2023 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Thirteen JAS members visited the Watkins Lake SP for our annual autumn waterfowl tour.  It was a beautiful morning with clear skies and comfortable temperatures going from about 35 to 55F during our visit.  We had a good variety of waterfowl with 18 species counted.  A large flock (~1,000) of Canada Goose came in shortly after we started.  And with all eyes on, 2 Snow Goose were spotted!  A significant number of Hooded Merganser were observed.

    The raptor count was low with a late arriving Bald Eagle and Red-Tailed Hawk, not seen by many participants.  And a first for me-NO Manchester Turkey Vultures.  They seem to be reliable all year round.

    Trip eBird list available at

  • Tuesday, November 14, 2023 8:03 AM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We had only two counters this week, but Gary and Ross were able to count all 65 cranes that made Haehnle their home last night.  Another 100 or so cranes were observed in flight north of the sanctuary.  While our counts remain low, cranes are starting to gather in the area.  Multiple groups in the hundreds are being seen in local agricultural and other fields. For an up-to-date crane viewing map, visit

    It was a great night for waterfowl with 12 species observed.  And we had another Rough-legged Hawk along with three other raptors.  

    Counters:  Ross Green and Gary Siegrist

    Compiled by Ross Green

    eBird list of all species recorded:  

    Total Cranes Roosting:  68

  • Tuesday, November 07, 2023 10:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    10 members of JAS visited the Dahlem Center Tuesday for a fall birding tour.

    (Brenda Wineman)

    Highlights include Fox Sparrow, Purple Finch, and Golden-drowned Kinglet.  Complete bird list is available at eBird Checklist - 7 Nov 2023 - Dahlem Center - 30 species

  • Monday, November 06, 2023 9:46 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 11/06/2023
    by Don Henise

    After two Mondays of quite cold weather, this week we enjoyed a mild afternoon with temps in the upper 50s. A prescribed burn was conducted on the east portion of the main prairie near the overlook last Thursday.
    [Video of burn available on the JAS YouTube channel]

    Today a flock of 40+ American Pipits was found on the burned area.  Apparently, a burned prairie looks a lot like good tundra habitat to a pipit. Though American Pipits can be quite common migrants in other parts of Michigan, they are uncommon migrants in Jackson County - a real treat for all observers and a life bird for a few.

    (Don Henise)

    The one hundred mark was finally broken for our crane count with 130 Sandhill Cranes flying into roost in Mud Lake Marsh for the evening.

    Counters: Ross Green, Robyn Henise, Gary Siegrist, and Steve Jerant
    Compiled by Don Henise
    eBird list of all species recorded:

    Total Cranes Roosting: 130

  • Tuesday, October 31, 2023 8:07 AM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary & USFWS Crane Count 10/30/2023
    by Don Henise

    A brisk cold evening closed out the October counts at Phyllis Haehnle  Sanctuary. We even had a snow shower cross over the marsh at one point.  The number of Sandhill Cranes using the sanctuary for night roosting remains on the low side, but numbers were up just a bit from Last week.  A count of 97 cranes were tallied flying into Mud Lake Marsh for the night with another 147 counted as flybys.

    (Don Henise)

    Gary found the season's first Rough-legged Hawk working over the marsh. It was in view most of the evening either perched on a snag or flying around hunting, often hovering over the marsh and fen to the northwest of the overlook. Bald Eagles were prevalent throughout the evening as well, with at least 8 individuals being seen. There were three adults, at least two 1st year birds and three 2nd year birds. Three of the young birds circled directly overhead together.

    Bald Eagle(Haliaeetus leucocephalus)(Don Henise)

    Total Cranes Roosting:  97
    Counters: Robyn Henise, Gary Siegrist
    Compiled by: Don Henise
    Complete eBird checklist:

    Editor's note:

    In addition to the count at Haehnle, ( JAS members participated in area counts for the USFWS.
    Ron Hoffman & Steve Jerant counted 120 cranes roosting at the Schumacher Marsh near the Waterloo Farm Museum on Waterloo Munith Road.

    Ross Green and Lathe Claflin reported the night's high of 198 cranes at marshland just north of the Haehnle Sanctuary.

  • Monday, October 23, 2023 10:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 10/23/2023
    by Don Henise

    Sandhill Cranes came into Mud Lake Marsh at Haehnle Sanctuary tonight but in slightly smaller numbers than last week. A count of 77 cranes came in for the night.

    (Don Henise)

    The trees surrounding the marsh were showing nice color which was especially striking as the sun lowered behind us. A total of 44 bird species were recorded during our count. While scoping the marsh for waterfowl, Ross had a Northern Shrike fly through his view. It landed at the top of the tall maples to the right of the overlook giving us all a nice scope view before it flew off again.  A Red-shouldered Hawk, 2 Adult Bale Eagles, several Northern Harriers and a Merlin were the raptor highlights of the evening. A variety of waterfowl continue to be observed out in Mud Lake.

    White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) (Don Henise)

    Complete eBird checklist:

    Total Cranes Roosting: 77
    Counters: Robyn Henise, Gary Siegrist, Ross Green
    Compiled by: Don Henise

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