To anyone considering spending time on the serene summer shores of Lake Michigan, I applaud your discerning taste. My family and I are enjoying our week in a beautiful house in the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor area overlooking the jade waters of this magnificent, mutable Great Lake. But those of you hoping to enjoy a bit of birding around here during your summer sojourn, I advise ratcheting down your expectations dramatically.

The summer doldrums are in full effect right now in southern Michigan. Since the coast is so quiet, apart from Ring-billed Gulls, American Goldfinches, Song Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, and the rare falcon or cormorant, Seth and I decided to see if birds were hiding out in the woods. Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve, which is reputed to harbor unique plant communities, seemed like the perfect place to chase down something special.

This Nature Conservancy preserve is special if you like long walks through beautiful woods. For birds in early August, though, not so much. Fans of Black-capped Chickadees and the other aforementioned northeastern American common birds will be pleased to find their omnipresence unbroken. The rest of us will have to be satisfied with Neotropical migrants like Eastern Wood Pewee and Great Crested Flycatcher.  Summer in Michigan feels a lot like summer in New York. Too bad I’m still hundreds of miles from Kirtland’s Warbler territory!

I might not have been able to track down anything special at Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve, but when I got back to the lake house, I was introduced to a simply splendid stick bug. Now that’s special!

Written by Mike
Mike is a leading authority in the field of standardized test preparation, but he's also a traveler who fully expects to see every bird in the world. Besides founding 10,000 Birds in 2003, Mike has also created a number of other entertaining but now extirpated nature blog resources, particularly the Nature Blog Network and I and the Bird.