Kleinstuck Spring Migration Bird Surveys

Started in 1973, this survey covers the entire spring migration period and, over the years, has documented 209 species. Check back for weekly updates from April -May each year!

See the 2021 Kleinstuck Report here >

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

5-3-5-9

This was another slow week until today Monday the 9th. After the cold and rain we have had this last week the weather was perfect Sunday night for a major push of birds in our area. We added 9 new species(American Redstart, Barn Swallow, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Broad-winged Hawk, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Double-crested Cormorant, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Veery) putting us at 103 species for the year. Most of these new specie occurred on Monday the 9th. The Double-crested Cormorant was seen as a flyover and usually associates itself with large bodies of water like Gull Lake. The Broad-winged Hawk was also seen flying over and can be seen in large flocks (called kettles) during the migration. The Veery is a type of thrush that breeds here in Kalamazoo County and has a wonderful spiraling song. The three new warbler species found this week is just the beginning of what is to come with close to 30 species found each season.

Even though a daily survey is done some birds escape our detection. Listed at the end of the bird list is two species that have eluded us this last week but have been seen by other birders, the Kentucky Warbler and White-eyed Vireo. The Kentucky Warbler is a southern species being found irregularly in the southern parts of Michigan. It is usually found hiding low or on the ground and if it is quiet can be passed by easily. The White-eyed Vireo was just found on Monday and is also a southern species that has been found in Southern Michigan more commonly now than ever. This entire week is looking good for migration with warm temps and southerly winds so expect lots of new birds in the area over the rest of this week.

Kleinstuck May 3

Sora Rail

Sora Rail (P. carolina)

4/26 – 5/2

Another week of below normal temperatures has caused the migration to be a trickle of birds with 11 new species (Black-throated Green Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, Palm Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Solitary Sandpiper, Sora and Virginia Rail, and Yellow-throated Vireo).  Bringing this year’s total to 93 species. Three of the new species seen were warblers and all of them breed in Northern Michigan.  The Chipping Sparrow is found along the edges of Kleinstuck preferring the more park-like setting of the neighborhoods.  The Gray-cheeked Thrush is a true long distance migrant coming from South America and traveling well into Northern Canada and Alaska.  Both species of Rails were heard calling this week but as usual with this very secretive family neither was seen. The first Scarlet Tanager found this week was a female and even though it was exciting I always enjoy seeing the male with their scarlet red body and black wings.  There is still a bunch of birds that need to get here so the next 3 weeks there will be the major push of birds in our area and hopefully they can bring some warm temperatures and sunny skies. 

Kleinstuck list

Sora Rail

Sora Rail (P. carolina)

4/26 – 5/2

Another week of below normal temperatures has caused the migration to be a trickle of birds with 11 new species (Black-throated Green Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Nashville Warbler, Palm Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Solitary Sandpiper, Sora and Virginia Rail, and Yellow-throated Vireo).  Bringing this year’s total to 93 species. Three of the new species seen were warblers and all of them breed in Northern Michigan.  The Chipping Sparrow is found along the edges of Kleinstuck preferring the more park-like setting of the neighborhoods.  The Gray-cheeked Thrush is a true long distance migrant coming from South America and traveling well into Northern Canada and Alaska.  Both species of Rails were heard calling this week but as usual with this very secretive family neither was seen. The first Scarlet Tanager found this week was a female and even though it was exciting I always enjoy seeing the male with their scarlet red body and black wings.  There is still a bunch of birds that need to get here so the next 3 weeks there will be the major push of birds in our area and hopefully they can bring some warm temperatures and sunny skies. 

Kleinstuck list

Ruby-crowned kinglet

Ruby-crowned kinglet (C. calendula)

April 8-18, 2022

It has been 11 days since my last update, and since then I have added 12 new species for the year, highlighted red in the table. Four of these species were fly overs or very brief visitors (American Kestrel, Rock Pigeon, Rusty Blackbird, and Sandhill Crane). The Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows were found hunting for insects over the water and this cold spring has been a little tough on these species so far. Also had two species of early season warblers, the Pine and Yellow-rumped Warblers which can alter their diet from just eating insects to dried berries/seeds and even suet at bird feeders. The Blue-headed Vireo was only found 1 day but I expect more to be coming as the temperatures moderate. The Brown Thrasher has been singing almost daily from the brushy tangles while the Field Sparrow was heard singing one day near the tennis courts which is a little out of habitat for this normally grassland bird. Lastly the Ruby-crowned Kinglets have arrived. The Golden-crowned Kinglet arrives first in our area but we are now in a transition period where you can see almost equal numbers of Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Both of these species make their way to Northern Michigan to nest. Let’s hope some warmer weather and another influx of new birds comes soon.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl photo: John Brenneman

 

March 30 – April 7, 2022

The last 9 days at Kleinstuck was rather slow. The cold and rainy weather welcomed the addition of just four new species for the year; Cooper’s Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Wild Turkey, and Pied-billed Grebe.

This is the 6th year in a row that a pair of Pied-billed Grebes have called Kleinstuck home. Despite its small size, the wetland at Kleinstuck has hosted an amazing number of wetland species over the years. The last 10 years alone have seen nine species of duck, geese, and grebes found in the water. This number does not include flyovers. Kleinstuck has also provided habitat for American Coot, Common Gallinule, Sora, and Virginia Rail, along with larger birds such as Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Great Egret, Sandhill Crane, and American Bittern. 

Although relatively small in area, the wetland at Kleinstuck provides life to many species of wetland birds. With the loss of almost half of the wetlands in the Kalamazoo County area, the importance of wetland habitat preservation is more important now than ever; not only at Kleinstuck, but at wetlands of any size across Kalamazoo county. 

Where there is water, life will flourish. This is just one of the unique environmental characteristics that make Kleinstuck such an important piece of land that birds can call home, from wetland species to woodpeckers, hawks, and more. 

Pileated Woodpecker Seth Chapman

Pileated Woodpecker photo by Seth Chapman

March 22-29, 2022

The Kleinstuck bird survey has begun again! I started surveying on March 22, one day earlier than normal because the weather forecast for Wednesday was rain and wind.  The challenging weather has been the common theme this first week of surveys with rain, wind, snow and cold temps. Despite these challenges I was able to tally 47 species. Some early migrants or potential birds that have been around all winter were present like the Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, and White-throated Sparrow. The Fox Sparrows are probably migrants with these species being one of the earliest migrating species found in Michigan as they head up towards northern Canada.  There is a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks that have taken up residence and are looking like they might nest. This is an uncommon species found in Kalamazoo County that in recent years has been increasing its population and would mark the first time this species has nested at Kleinstuck, so fingers crossed. I have also located a nesting cavity that the Pileated Woodpeckers have been diligently working on so looking forward to seeing if they raise some young here.

Kleinstuck 3-22

Grab your binoculars for these upcoming Birding programs at KNC:

Birding the Kleinstuck Preserve
Mondays, May 2 and 9, 8 am
Fee: $7/Member, $10/Non-Member
Register by 4 pm the Friday before each program
Want to get rid of the Monday morning blues? Join the KNC research staff as they survey spring migratory birds. Meet: Maple Street YMCA parking area: 1001 W Maple St, Kalamazoo, MI 49008  Audience: Adults

Birding with the Stars
Tuesdays, May 10, 17, and 24, 8:00-9:30 am
Fee: $7/Member, $10/Non-Member
Register here by 4 pm the day before the program
Join expert birders for a guided morning hike. Listen and watch for spring migrants returning to Michigan and learn techniques to be a better birder. All skill levels are welcome. Meet: Sundial, Visitor Center Parking Lot | Audience: Adults