Birdwatching is one of America’s most popular pastimes, and for good reason: it’s affordable and can almost always be enjoyed year-round. The Jackson area is home to hundreds of native bird species, and migratory patterns mean viewing opportunities are always changing. Whether you’re an expert packing a top-of-the-line spotting scope or a novice with no more than a pair of binoculars, Jackson’s widely inhabited forests, fields, marshes and lakes make it one plentiful paradise for birding.
First thing’s first. Let’s get you started with the bird-sighting checklist, a great starting point for any skill level. Grab your habitat map and try to spot a group of Sandhill Cranes at the 963-acre Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary, where they gather every autumn to migrate south. Some of the richest wildlife in Jackson resides within the Kate Palmer Sanctuary, containing 50-plus acres of Michigan Audubon Society-protected forest. Waterloo Recreation Area, the largest park in the lower peninsula, harbors 47 hiking trails and an encyclopedia of species within its massive reserve — over 20,000 acres worth!
By Bike or By Paddle
You don't have to be on foot to check another bird off your list. The Falling Waters Trail lets birdwatchers explore different habitats by way of a lengthy paved bike trail, while our many scenic waterways offer unique birding vantage points by canoe or kayak. Jump on a mountain bike and blaze MacCready Reserve’s 6.5 miles of trails over 400 acres of diverse nature.
Birds in All Directions
You’re always on a birdwatching trip in Jackson, whether you know it or not! Even downtown, you’re presented with unique birding opportunities. A pair of peregrine falcons, named Big Red and Chayton, recently decided to make the Jackson County Tower Building their roost of choice. See our falcon cam and keep an eye out for this pair of local celebrities flying overhead.