Thornapple Birding Trail
Birding in Barry County is fun at any time of the year. We welcome all visitors to enjoy the many forest pathways, lakes and fields in this mostly rural county. Our Thornapple Birding trail map shows just a few of the many bird-filled habitats visitors to Barry county can explore in our over 22,000 acres of state game areas, many parks, and over 250 lakes. Relax with the whole family after your birding trip in one of our fine restaurants.
The spring migration begins in late February with the first mild days, and continues into early June. Blackbirds arrive on that first wave of warm weather, followed closely by migrating ducks as the lakes begin to thaw and open up. Ducks tend to flock on the larger lakes but even small ponds can host ducks in spring.
Soon the weather warms enough for passerines to return. The peak of warbler migration is usually around May 10-12. At its peak 18 to 20 species of warblers can be found with a full day of birding. Our woodlands also offer nesting Acadian Flycatchers, Hooded Warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, Red-eyed Vireos, Ruffed Grouse, and Wild Turkeys. Thirteen species of warblers nest in Barry County, including the beautiful Cerulean Warbler. Summer brings long days and a lush, green landscape filled with birdsong. Nesting birds are kept busy feeding their offspring. Bring your canoe or kayak to explore the many lakes, creeks and rivers.
Fall migration begins with the return of southbound shorebirds in early July. As the chorus of birdsong slows down in August, the evening chorus of katydids, crickets and other insects builds after dark. Fall warblers begin filtering through by late August and their numbers reach its peak in mid-September. Late summer brings post-breeding dispersal of gulls, herons and egrets, and Sandhill Cranes always make their presence known with their loud bugling. The fall push of migrating ducks and geese builds as the weather turns cold in October and November, with the larger lakes again hosting the biggest variety of species. Common Loons move through the county in both spring and fall.
Winter finches like juncos, American Tree Sparrows and Snow Buntings replace the summer birds, and provide an interesting field trip when the world turns snowy. Wherever there is open water in winter, the chance for rare water birds exists.
We hope this birding trail brings you learning, enjoyment and closeness to nature. The sites listed here offer safe, easy to access birding locations in high quality habitat and peaceful settings. We look forward to meeting you on the birding trail.