Read on, as we take you on a birding tour of a May morning at Schlitz Audubon!
This route begins in the parking lot, with vibrant bird song and flittering wings on the tops of trees along the lot’s perimeter, then head towards Mystery Lake for even more magic. Along the wooded trails to Mystery, keep your ears and eyes wide for a variety of warblers, and Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets. At Mystery Lake, you might find Belted Kingfisher’s rattling, Great Blue Heron and Green Heron wading, and a Baltimore Oriole building a nest on the edge of the lake.
Seeing Birds from the Prairies and Ponds
Heading towards the West Meadows, and with an open view above the prairie, look out for soaring Red-tailed Hawks, and Broad-winged Hawks. Then listen for the trumpeting call of the Sandhill Crane. Swirling above, you’ll likely encounter Tree Swallows, and Eastern Bluebirds looking to claim a nesting box. If you trek all the way to Wood Duck Pond in the West Meadows, you might be rewarded with glances of the secretive Wood Duck, and Blue-winged Teal.
Walking back towards the Central Wetlands Loop, pause by Teal Pond and Dragonfly Pond to listen for the descending whinny of Sora, and look for Swamp Sparrow dashing in and out of the tall pond grasses on the edges. You might hear the Song Sparrow proudly belting their tune from a mid-height shrub, and even find a Red-winged Blackbird nest with defensive parents.
Warblers Near the Observation Tower
Climbing the Observation Tower is an absolute must on a May morning. As you ascend the steps surrounded by deciduous and evergreen trees, pay attention to the Black-and-White Warbler’s “squeaky wheel” song, look for Nashville Warbler, and American Redstart, and prepare to be wowed with up close looks of the jewels of spring. The bright orange throat of the Blackburnian Warbler, the bold yellow, blue, and black of the Magnolia Warbler, and the chartreuse and vermillion of the Chestnut-sided Warbler may not be able to be seen in such close detail anywhere else on our trails.
Viewing A Variety of Birds
Next, head to the Lake Terrace Loop where anything is possible on a May day. Scarlet Tanagers, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Kingbird, and Blue-headed Vireo are just a few of the species one can expect to find in this mixed habitat. Make sure to pause by Lake Michigan for hundreds of Double-crested Cormorants migrating north, Caspian Terns squawking above the lake, and possibly a shorebird species such as Solitary Sandpiper.
Another great wooded spot for warblers is Elizabeth’s Trail, the steps that lead you back to the building. Listen for Northern Parula, the “bee-buzz” of the Blue-winged Warbler, and look for the necklace of the Canada Warbler.
Our trails throughout the year are wonderful for birding, but nothing can compare to a May morning. You can enjoy early birding on the trails starting at 7:00am through June 3. Consider these locations to experience the magic for yourself.