West Virginia, Ohio & Michigan: A Spring Migration Journey
Date: May 5 - 16, 2021
Leader: Jan Hansen
Price: $2995 from Charleston
Though not generally considered a bucket list birding destination, Appalachia and the Upper Midwest have much to offer visiting birders. In fact, there is likely no more exciting venue for one to spend time during spring migration. During the first half of May, migratory songbirds reach peak numbers in this part of the country, are singing vigorously and are decked out in their resplendent breeding plumage. In the mountains of West Virginia many southerly warbler species like Swainson's, Cerulean, Prothonotary, Worm-eating and Kentucky have already commenced breeding by early May and farther north, species like Kirtland's are starting to set up territories. In addition to the songbirds available on this tour (up to 35 species of warblers), shorebirds will also be moving through and there are some prime areas in northwestern Ohio that will excite even the most ardent shorebird aficionados.
In southern Ohio we will visit a site with breeding Upland Sandpipers and many Henslow's Sparrows; two species infrequently encountered by many birders and at the tour's conclusion we will spend a day in the deciduous forests of northern Michigan where, in addition to seeing the critically endangered Kirtland's Warbler, we can also look for species like Evening Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin and Purple Finch, adding a bit of boreal flair to what will already be an impressive bird tally. Other interesting and seldom seen birds we have excellent chances to see will include Barn Owl, Black Tern, Eastern Whip-poor-will, Least and American bitterns, Black-billed Cuckoo, Sedge Wren, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Dickcissel. Beginning in Charleston WV, we will spend time in the mountains and along the Ohio River in this lightly birded state, before moving north through Ohio and concluding the tour in Michigan. We will visit two of the the country's premier spring migration sites: Magee Marsh in Ohio and Tawas Point in Michigan and well as several excellent grassland
To maximize safety for everyone we will not travel together in a large van. Instead this will be a self-driving tour and the number of participants will be limited to seven. We will also not have group meals in restaurants, but instead will stay in hotels with microwaves and refrigerators so that participants can eat in their rooms. By following these safety protocols we can reduce close contact and thus minimize risk of contracting Covid-19. If significant changes occur in the Covid-19 situation prior to May 2021, the tour format will change and we will use a group van and include meals. If this happens an alternative price has been included to account for these additional tour expenses.