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TAWAS POINT STATE PARK: Bird Watcher's Paradise

During the annual migrations, Tawas Point State Park is one of the hottest birding spots in the Midwest. Tawas Point collects migrants moving along the coastline and concentrates them at the tip, where suddenly the confused birds discover an “end to the earth”. An amazing 301 species have been observed at the park. Spectacular transient shorebirds, gulls, waterfowl, songbirds, hawks, falcons, owls, and eagles attract birders from throughout North America during the spring and fall migrations.
During those seasons, Tawas Point State Park is a sanctuary for wild birds and the human spirit.

To learn more about birding in the Saginaw Bay area, and for information and locations of current bird sightings, visit Joe Soehnel's website .....


Bruce Bowman has assembled a check list of birds that have been sighted at Tawas Point ......





THE INCREDIBLE WEEK ....

Click picture to ZOOMMay 17, 2007 - Barn Owl at Tawas Point
Words cannot describe the excitement of seeing the first Barn Owl that has been documented in the Saginaw Bay area since the last sighting at Shiawassee NWR in July of 1978. At 8:15 A.M. my friends and I first observed the bird in flight ... an unusually slow wing beat with wings stretching far forward, the tips twisting and cupping to form a scoop to collect precious air. The flight was so slow that I expected the bird to suddenly drop vertically and belly flop to the ground. Later in the afternoon the owl took roost in a stand of pine trees, allowing us to admire and study it. That is where I took this photo. This Barn Owl was the 301st bird species to be documented at Tawas Point State Park. The last known nesting of Barn Owls in Michigan was in 1979 in Monroe.
(Click on the photo to see a larger picture)




Click picture to ZOOMMay 22, 2007 - Tricolored Heron
Another rare sighting! My friend, Jim Dawe, located this bird early this morning in the mud flats near the tip of Tawas Point. The Tricolored Heron is half the size of the familiar Great Blue Heron. Tess and I had great views thru the spotting scope as we watched the medium-sized (26") heron run and feed on small fish. (The Tricolored runs and chases it's prey; the Great Blue slowly stalks) Formerly known as the Louisiana Heron, the Tricolored is a common inhabitant of the salt marshes and mangrove swamps of the Gulf coast. It's rare appearance in Michigan is classified as an "accidental migrant". The only other documented sighting of a Tricolored Heron at Tawas Point was on May 29, 1975.
(Click on the photo to see a larger picture)




Click picture to ZOOMMay 26, 2007 - Couch's Kingbird
An excited Karl Overman first sighted this extremely rare bird near the tip of Tawas Point on Saturday morning, May 26th. The Couch's Kingbird is found from southern Texas along the Gulf Coast to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. . It is not a long-distance migrant, and this sighting is the first documented record of vagrancy in Michigan. Cell phone calls and e-mails immediately alerted the Michigan birding community to this bird's presence at Tawas Point. Within the next couple of hours birders began to arrive from around the state to observe this rarity. Couch's Kingbird is virtually indistinguishable from the Tropical Kingbird, which occupies the same neotropical range, but the voices of the two differ consistently. To officially distinguish the species, vocalization would have to be heard. The kingbird remained silent until 7 p.m. Sunday when patient birders finally heard the distinctive vocalizations and Brad Murphy matched the bird's calls to the reference Couch's Kingbird vocals on an iPod. I was able to take this photo of the Couch's Kingbird on Sunday morning, as it perched on the powerline. It was the 302nd species documented at Tawas Point.
(Click on the photo to see a larger picture)



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