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Kirtland's Warbler Tours Start May 15!

Michigan Audubon, the U.S. Forest Service and AuSable Valley Audubon will again be hosting Kirtland's Warbler tours in 2019. Here's everything you need to know:


Michigan Audubon -- Hartwick Pines State Park

Michigan Audubon employs a seasonal guide to lead Kirtland’s Warbler tours from Grayling, MI, working in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The tours are based at Hartwick Pines State Park just north of downtown Grayling. Tours cost $10 per person (13 and younger are free) and you must have a Recreation Pass to enter the State Park. If you are a Michigan resident and do not have a Recreation Pass, you will be required to purchase one. A Recreation Passport can be purchased the day of your tour. Those arriving for the 7:00 a.m. tour will be able to purchase their pass, if needed, from the tour guide at the Visitor Center. Those arriving for a later tour can purchase the passport at the Park’s entrance booth.


Tours will begin Monday, May 27 and are scheduled daily at 7:00 a.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, there will also be tours at 11:00 a.m. The last day tours will be offered is Saturday, June 30, 2019.


Tours will meet at the Michigan Forest Visitor Center within Hartwick Pines State Park, where participants are given a brief orientation to the Kirtland’s Warbler and the Jack Pine habitat. Afterward, participants caravan to protected pine barrens for the chance to view the endangered warbler.


Reservations are only accepted for groups of more than 5 individuals. If you have more than 10 people in your party, you may be required to participate in the 11:00 a.m. tour and we will arrange a special tour if you are attending during the week.


Groups smaller than 5, need only to arrive at the visitors center in time for the tour. There is no tour capacity, thus all those who arrive on time will be included in the tour.

To make group reservations, please email events@michiganaudubon.org.


The entrance to Hartwick Pines State Park and the Michigan Forest Visitor Center is located on Hartwick Pines Road (aka M-93) just east of I-75. There is an approximate walk of 5 minutes up an inclined walkway to reach the visitor center from the parking lot. A map and detailed information regarding Hartwick Pines can be found on the Michigan DNR Website.

Tour duration: 2.5 to 3 hours.


U.S. Forest Service -- Mio Ranger Station

Kirtland’s Warbler tours will be offered daily from May 15 through May 31, 7 days a week at the Mio Ranger District of the Huron National Forest.


Guided Kirtland’s Warbler tours are the best opportunity to view this endangered songbird, as Kirtland’s Warbler nesting areas are closed and posted against public entry during the nesting season.  Kirtland’s Warblers are rarely seen in Michigan outside of their nesting habitat.


The Kirtland’s warbler tour begins at 7:30 am at the Mio Ranger District office at 107 McKinley Road.  Please arrive at 7:15 am to check in and pay before the tour begins.  The tour begins with a short video that highlights the natural history and management of the Kirtland’s Warbler.  Tour participants then follow the tour guide in their own vehicle to a field site.  At the field site, participants have an excellent chance of seeing a Kirtland’s Warbler, as well as other birds that live in the jack pine habitat.  The tour participants visit a cowbird trap and learn about the jack pine ecosystem.  The entire tour lasts approximately three hours.


Tour participants are encouraged to bring binoculars.  Tape recorders, pets, and smoking are not allowed on the tour.  Reservations are not required, but are recommended for groups of four or larger.  The Kirtland’s Warbler tour costs $10 per adult and is free for children.  Funds from the tours help cover costs associated with the tours.  For more information, call the Mio Ranger District office at (989) 826-3252. 


AuSable Valley Audubon -- Oscoda

Tours start May 19 and 20 (Sunday, Monday) immediately following the end of the Tawas Point Birding Festival, then are held on five consecutive Saturdays – June 1st through June 29. (Saturday only!) 

Rain or poor weather makeup dates will be the following day (Sundays).  You may call Camp Inn Lodge.  We will also send out notifications via Facebook if you “like” our page \\


Sign in Time is 7:30 a.m. Please arrive a few minutes early.


A short introduction and video about the Kirtland’s will be shown.  Then, participants will follow the guide in their own vehicles or carpool with others to the U.S. Forest Service's Pine River Kirtland's Warbler Management Area.


Reservations are strongly encouraged 24 hours in advance and may be made by calling the Camp In Lodge at 989-739-2021 or via email at campinnlodge@gmail.com. For more information visit www.CampInnLodge.com and click on “events”.


Tours are free and limited to 12 people. Walk-ins are allowed only if tours are not full.


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