Birding in Benzie County
With its rolling hills covered by forests and fields, and interspersed with numerous lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, marshes, and a long coastline along Lake Michigan, Benzie County is ideally situated for spring and fall migrants.
The spring migration begins slowly in March, builds from mid-April until early May and peaks in the middle of May. The Benzie Audubon Club hosts a Big Day Count each year and has recorded, as a group, as many as 168 species on one day. Individual birders have recorded as many as 132 species in a day. The Benzie Audubon Club and the Manistee Audubon Society just to the south have consistently recorded the highest species total on their Christmas bird counts of any other count in northern Michigan. After the peak, the migration winds up quickly so that by the end of May it is essentially over.
In the fall, migration actually begins as early as July when a few shorebirds, having already completed their nesting in the tundra, begin a leisurely southward trek. The entire fall migration is much less frenetic than the spring migration and will actually last into December. The peak migration now is difficult to define as different species seem to peak at different times, but usually the best overall birding may be had from mid-September through mid-November.
Through the early part of the spring migration and most of the fall migration, weather is extremely variable and birders should be prepared for a wide variety of conditions.
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Betsie River Pathway - Pere Marquette State Forest
Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy - Coastal Nature Preserve Trails
Download a Map and Guide for Birding in Benzie County.
Benzie County, the smallest of the 83 counties in Michigan, offers wonderful birding opportunities throughout the year, especially in the spring and fall. About 270 species have been recorded in the county and about 220 of these may be seen in a given year.