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2023 Michigan Birding Adventure

Monday, June 12 — Friday, June 16 2023

Kirtland's Warbler photo by Eric OllieJoin the IOU for a thrilling five-day excursion as we bird both the "mitten" and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, spending 3+ days birding the Michigan North Woods, including the recently endangered KIRTLAND'S WARBLER!!!

Target birds: Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, American Black Duck, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruffed Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Black-billed Cuckoo, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Yellow Rail, Sandhill Crane, Whooping Crane, Piping Plover, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Common Tern, Forster's Tern, Common Loon, Osprey, Northern Goshawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Long-eared Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Merlin, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Philadelphia Vireo, Canada Jay, Common Raven, Boreal Chickadee, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Siskin, Clay-colored Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Brewer's Blackbird   

Warblers: Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Connecticut Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Kirtland's Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Palm Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler 

Also possible: Moose, Gray Wolf, Black Bear, North American Porcupine, Snowshoe Hare, North American Beaver, Southern Flying Squirrel, Northern Flying Squirrel, Red Squirrel

Birding Locations: Hartwick Pines State Park, Huron-Manistee National Forest, Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, and various locations in between...

Itinerary - This is a basic outline. This should mostly happen as written, but we will adjust the scheduled according to conditions at the time and opportunities that may arise:

Day 1 -- Monday, June 12

Travel Day
Meet at the Quad-City International Airport - long-term parking lot, Moline, IL
Travel  to Grayling, MI
Bonus evening birding around Grayling as time allows
Overnight in Grayling MI

Day 2 -- Tuesday, June 13

Kirtland's Warblers - private tour led by Michigan Audubon
Hartwick Pines State Park
Huron-Manistee National Forest
Overnight in Newberry, MI

Day 3 -- Wednesday, June 14

Seney National Wildlife Refuge
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Overnight in Munising, MI

Day 4 -- Thursday, June 15

Start heading south into Wisconsin
Whooping Cranes and more - Necedah National Wildlife Refuge
Overnight in Tomah, WI

Day 5 -- Friday, June 16 

Travel Day - Back to Moline!
Opportunistic birding stops along the way
Arrive at the Quad-City International Airport in the afternoon/evening

 To take full advantage of the prime morning birding hours and the coolest part of the day, we may be starting the birding days at or before sunrise. Be prepared for early mornings or leaving before the hotel breakfast begins. Our philosophy is that we are going there to see as many birds as possible in the finite time we have. Therefore, we will be on a birder's schedule, not a general vacationer's. Hot hotel breakfasts and sit-down restaurants are very nice, but they are time-consuming and aren't often in sync with an avid birder's schedule. All evening meals will be in a nice, comfortable sit-down restaurant.


  • Ramada by Wyndham - Grayling, MI
  • America's Best Value Inn Tahquamenon Country - Newberry, MI
  • EconoLodge Inn & Suites - Munising, MI
  • Super 8 by Wyndham - Tomah, WI 


  • Matt Wetrich - Former Carroll County Naturalist, Big Bluestem Audubon Society board member, professional nature photographer, uber-birder, and lover of life. From Jefferson, IA
  • Rachel Clark - Former Big Bluestem Audubon Society Vice President, Fresno Audubon Society President, ISU graduate - BS in Animal Ecology,
    professional biologist, professional birding guide, hyper-passionate bird nerd. From Fresno, CA
  • Anna Buckardt Thomas - Iowa DNR Wildlife Diversity Avian Ecologist, Michigan Tech graduate (in the UP!), IOU board member, and life-long birder. From Nevada, IA
  • Eric Ollie -  IOU board member, former IOU Events Committee Chair, Big Bluestem Audubon Society Board Member and Field Trip Coordinator, former Big Bluestem Audubon Society President, professional transit bus driver, unabashed tree-hugger, nature lover, and everything-avian enthusiast. From Ames, IA

We have room for a maximum number of 20 participants on this trip on a "first-come, first-served" basis, in the order that full payment is received. Full payment alone will secure a spot on this trip. We will need a minimum of 13 participants for this trip to be viable and to proceed. If the minimum number of participants is not met, all payments will be fully reimbursed.

Registration for this trip will close on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at 11:59 PM, or as soon as 20 participants have paid in full.  All fees must be paid in full by that time for you to be officially registered for the trip. Cancellation with all fees paid refunded in full will be granted before Wednesday, May 10, 2023, at 11:59 PM. On Thursday, May 11, 2023, all fees paid will become 100% non-refundable.

For the double-occupancy hotel rooms, we strongly recommend that you find your own roommate. It is best for all involved to find their own roommate, but if needed, we will do our very best to match you up with another participant (of the same sex). We usually do find roommates, but we can not guarantee that we will be able to.

Cost: $875 per person

The trip fee includes the cost of all hotels (half of a two-bed, double-occupancy room), professional guides, all entrance fees, and transportation from the Quad-City International Airport and return. You will need to find your own way to the Quad-City International Airport to meet up with the group there. The trip fee also does not include the cost of meals. We will be renting four 7-passenger minivans for our transportation on the trip. There will be a maximum of six people (one leader and five participants) in each minivan.

All participants must be current members of the IOU, so if you have not joined or renewed for 2023, please do so now at the membership page.