Charity Island Bird Watching

Charity Island has been host to many birders  the over the years.

We try to coincide our spring trip with the Tawas bird fest.

Our trip includes coffee and donuts on the way to the island, after morning birding we serve a hearty corn chowder and a fresh baked crusty French bread over on our new dining area before returning to Au Gres.

The deck sits right on a transition zone between a mature hardwood forest and a shoreline/ dune habitat that will provide the opportunity to view a wide spectrum of bird species from this location.

And there will be an ample supply of complimentary hot coffee and danish available there for our guests.

Bird Watching Window to the Past- The Mershon Expedition of 1910

I recently came across a very interesting report from a 1910 University of Michigan bird watching expedition to Charity Island. (see PDF file “Mershon expedition” ).

The members of this Expedition arrived on Charity Island August 16th1910  and stayed until October 11th.

The report states they relied on the Lightkeeper, Captain Charles C. McDonald because he had been on the Island for 29 years.  Being the lightkeeper on Charity Island since 1882, he was on duty the night the Oconto wrecked on Charity Island in that winter gale December 5th1885. (see Charity Island History)

Of particular interest is the discussion of the birds observed in the fall migration and the number of Fatalities from bird collisions with the lighthouse at night.

Captain McDonald recalls one morning in May of 1910 finding 174 small brightly colored dead birds at the base of the light tower, most probably warblers.

The report goes on in great detail regarding various species of birds observed and In what numbers.

We are happy to provide the report here for those interested.

Robert G. & Karen R. Wiltse

Avid bird watchers throughout the State of Michigan are anxiously watching the calendar, as the spring migration of birds will soon begin signaling the end of a long winter and the beginning of spring.

One of the very best bird watching sites in all of Saginaw Bay has also been one of the most difficult to get to, until now.

Located in the middle of Saginaw Bay, Charity Island lies directly on a line between two of the best Known bird watching sites in Lower Michigan, Tawas Point State Park 14 miles to the north of Charity Island and the Fish Point Federal Wildlife Refuge 22 miles to the south.

With nearly 300 acres of forest, an 11 acre inland lake and 3 miles of shoreline, Charity Island is an important stopover for over 200 species of migratory birds. Most of the Island is now managed By the Federal Fish & Wildlife Service as an Island Wildlife Refuge.

Charity Island Excursions has announced it is again offering their Bird watching Cruise excursions this spring.


 Tickets are $50.00 per person.
Complimentary Coffee is served on the forty five minute trip to the Island and a hearty bowl of Corn Chowder and fresh baked French bread is served at noon at the lightkeepers home.

For reservations call: 989-254-7710

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