IOS Kirtland’s Warbler Memorial Day Trip 2023


Richard Wilson and I would like to offer the members of IOS an opportunity to see the Kirtland’s Warbler on its breeding grounds in Michigan. Many other iconic species that are hard to see in Illinois can be spotted here, and in past years, we have seen between 130 and 150 species. For the past four years, we have had a pair of Sandhill Cranes nesting on the property, in the middle of the pond, and each year, in early to mid-May, they have hatched two colts. Two years ago, additionally, a pair of Trumpeter Swans took up residence, nested and raised their cygnets on the pond. Here is a description of the trip. The route may vary depending on weather, interesting birds seen in other locations, and other considerations that may arise. We will try to minimize driving and maximize birding.

We are excited to offer this trip and we look forward to welcoming, and sharing this special place with, you.


Sam Burckhardt

Friday, May 26, 2023

Arrival in Wilber Township (East Tawas) at our house in the late afternoon, dinner in town. Time permitting, we will go for a short walk afterward on our property. (We’re on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, so we have light about an hour later than in Chicago.) In the evening, there is a chance to hear and see American Woodcocks display in a meadow on the property, not far from the house.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

After breakfast, we will drive down Wilber Road, then turn West and drive to one of the Kirtland’s Warbler restoration projects in Iosco County, very close to our house. Target birds are Kirtland’s Warblers, Vesper Sparrows, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Ruffed Grouse, Common Raven, Common Nighthawk, Black-billed Cuckoo. We will then drive to Tawas Bay, and Tawas Point State Park. We will be looking for warblers and sparrows, gulls (Bonaparte’s Gull), loons, Merlins, Piping Plovers and other shorebirds, and lingering winter ducks. This will be a good place for having lunch. Tawas Lake might be a good spot for Black Terns and possibly Trumpeter Swans. Back at our place, we will go for a walk on our property. Dinner at our house. An evening/night walk on the property is possible.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

We will drive toward Tuttle Marsh and take time to listen for birds on the way there. There are good spots for thrushes and warblers where in past years we have heard and or seen Golden-winged and Mourning Warblers, Wood Thrushes and Veeries. Tuttle Marsh is a large wetland with Trumpeter Swans, American and Least Bittern (the latter will be hard to see and hear), waterfowl, warblers and sparrows; 60 species for the location will not be unusual. Lunch in Oscoda. We will visit the break wall where the AuSable River goes into Lake Huron. Time permitting, we might go to Iargo Springs on the AuSable River for Trumpeter Swans and Winter Wrens. Otherwise, we will visit Clark’s Marsh and Wurtsmith Air Force Base for Upland Sandpipers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Grasshopper Sparrows, Sandhill Cranes, and any lingering winter birds. This is the place where the Southern Lapwing was seen in 2022. We will have dinner in Oscoda at Wiltse’s Brew Pub, then drive back to the house through Tuttle Marsh. This will be an opportunity to listen for night birds, such as Barred Owls and Eastern Whippoor-wills.

Monday, May 29, 2023

For those who can stay for another trip on Monday morning, we will see where we can go. We can walk out on the property. This will give us an opportunity to hear male Ruffed Grouse drum. Alternatively, there is a wonderful Kirtland’s Warbler area north of the AuSable where I usually get good looks at singing males, in case the warblers close to the house were hard to spot. Otherwise, we can decide where to go (Some might have to leave and go back to Chicago after breakfast.)


  • Richard and I have a place in East Tawas that has two guest bedrooms downstairs, accommodating up to four people. There are two bedrooms with two twin-size beds, each. This would mean that four people have to double up. All four share one bathroom, plus one separate toilet upstairs. We have one full-size bed
    upstairs with a separate bathroom.
  • We also have space in the newly renovated “Sanctuary Lodge,” a building on the property just below the house, on the pond. We can offer the three units in the Lodge, each with a bathroom, kitchen or kitchenette, and separate bedrooms.
    Unit 1 has two bedrooms—one with a queen size bed and the other with two
    twin beds, and a queen size sofa bed in the living room; Unit 2 is a large studio with a queen bed; and Unit 3 has one bedroom with a queen size bed and a queen size sofa bed in the living room.
  • Linen and towels are provided.
  • Breakfast each morning is included, will be served at our house and consists of oatmeal, fruit, and yogurt, coffee and hot water/tea.
  • One dinner (Saturday night) is included in the cost and consists of pasta with a red sauce, salad, and bread.
  • All other meals are not included. Dinners will be in restaurants; for lunch we will grab a sandwich at Subway.
  • The trip from Chicago to our house is roughly 380 miles, and can take up to 7.5 hours, including stops for food and stops to get gas, and with the time change when you cross into Michigan.
  • The plan is that everyone will arrive Friday late afternoon/early evening. Depending on when people can leave Chicago, we typically plan a common dinner in town that evening.
  •  It will be a good idea to car pool. The fewer cars the better!
  • Bring binoculars and a scope (if you have one).
  • As far as clothing is concerned, bring some warm clothing, as well, such as a sweater, hat and gloves, since mornings can still be cool, and good boots or walking shoes. Also bring rain-gear and bug spray—especially, if we go out at dusk, mosquitoes might be a bit pesky; however, plenty of insects will ensure more birds.

Additional links:
• Tawas and Tawas Bay:
• Tawas Point State Park:
• Tuttle Marsh:
• Our Lodge:
• Sanctuary Bird and Nature Tours: 



For information and bookings contact:

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