Area "Hall of Fame" Bird Sightings

May 2015: Whooping Crane

A Whooping Crane was first reported to the GRAC website on May 14, 2015 by Rob Vink. Rob found the crane in a field near the intersection of 76th St. SE and Hanna Lake Ave. A new Kent County record. Click on the thumbnail left for a complete report on the sighting along with further updates.

June 2015: Lark Bunting

On June 14, 2015 Rick Brigham reported the sighting of an unusual Lark Bunting at Allegan State Game Area, Todd Farm Unit. Several excellent photographs can be found in Warren Whaley's June 15 eBird report. Click on the thumbnail left for Warren's report.

August 2016: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

On Aug 11, 2016 a very astute Kevin Vande Vusse recognized that he was looking at a VERY unusual bird at Muskegon WTP. After consulting with expert birders it was verified that Kevin found a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper--a new state record. Click on the thumbnail left for the original eBird report.

September 2016: Black-necked Stilt

From time to time the Coopersville WTP turns up an interesting bird. However, on September 15, 2016 Chip Francke reported a truly unique find. A new Ottawa County record Black-necked Stilt. Click on the thumbnail left for Carl and Judi Manning's eBird report.

October 2016: Nelson's Sparrow

On October 4, 2016 Roselle Park was the site of a new Kent County record when Chace Scholten and Zachary DeBruine found a Nelson's Sparrow. Several excellent photographs left no doubt of the bird's identification. Click on the thumbnail left for the original eBird report.

October 2016: Parasitic Jaeger

A pelagic trip on Lake Michigan, 5 miles west of the mouth of the Kalamazoo River, yielded a Parasitic Jaeger on October 30, 2016. The lucky observers were Rick Brigham, Marylou Graham, Caleb Putnam and Chace Scholten. Click on the thumbnail left for the original eBird report.

December 2016: Western Grebe

A strong west wind on Christmas day was likely responsible for an unusual winter visitor at Port Sheldon's Pigeon Lake. On December 26, 2016 Carl and Judi Manning found a Western Grebe near the Lake Ave. boat launch. Click on the thumbnail left for the original eBird report. A second Western Grebe was reported by Jamie Krupka at Holland SP on Nov 22, 2017.

January 2017: Black-legged Kittiwake

Scanning the gulls at Holland State Park on January 15, 2017 rewarded Kevin Vande Vusse with a rare Black-legged Kittiwake. The bird lingered in the area until January 17 and was observed by additional birders. Click on the thumbnail left for the original eBird report. On December 19, 2017 Dale and Jeanine Roberts reported sighting two Black-legged Kittiwakes in the same area. One of the birds wintered at the West end of Lake Macatawa near Eldean Shipyard. Last observed Feb 25, 2018. On December 23, 2017 Judi Manning captured this photo.

April 2017: Ruff

On April 3, 2017 observer Terry Grabill first spotted an adult male Ruff, a vagrant Eurasian sandpiper, foraging with other sandpipers at the Muskegon Wastewater. Click on the thumbnail left for Chip Francke's eBird report with photograph. Additional photgraphs: (photo1) (photo2)

April 2017: Slaty-backed Gull

While scanning gulls at the Muskegon Wastewater on April 19,2017 Michael Boston found a rare coastal Asian vagrant Slaty-backed Gull. While unsure of what he found, it was later confirmed by other birders. Click on the thumbnail left for Scott Jennex's eBird report. (original photo)

May 2017: Lark Sparrow

On May 9, 2017 Emily Tornga discovered a rare Lark Sparrow at Harbor Island in Grand Haven; a new Ottawa Co record. This fairly common western species is only occasionally found east of the Mississippi. Additional photographs: (photo1) (photo2)

May 2017: Western Kingbird

A rare Western Kingbird was found by Will Walgren at the Allegan State Game Area Todd Farm May 16. Many observers found the bird loosely associating with Eastern Kingbirds on the power lines along 120th Ave east of 62nd St. Additional photographs: (photo1) (photo2)

September 2017: Sabine's Gull

A pelagic trip from the mouth of the Kalamazoo River led to the discovery of a rare Sabine's Gull by the group of C. Putnam, C. Scholten, M. Graham and R. Brigham. The trip also yielded a rare Parasitic Jaeger (see earlier report above). Additional photographs: (photo1) (photo2)

October 2017: Pomarine Jaeger

On October 26, 2017, Carl & Judi Manning observed a Pomarine Jaeger at Holland SP, Ottawa Co. The bird was first seen invading a flock of gulls sitting on the south pier. They watched the jaeger and gulls take turns harassing each other. Additional photographs: (photo1) (photo2)

December 2017: Barrow's Goldeneye

An adult male Barrow’s Goldeneye was spotted among 130 Common Goldeneye offshore from Douglas Beach Park, Allegan Co by Lizzy and Ethan Kibbey and Jim Fyfe December 2, 2017. The bird remained in the Douglas Beach area until December 4. Deteriorating weather conditions made further observations impossible until it was again observed on December 21.

February 2018: Eurasian Collared-Dove

Nine Eurasian Collared-Doves were spotted by Josh Kamp sitting in the trees and on wires at Sue Lynn Dairy Farm (along 20th St S of 144th Ave) near Dorr on Feb 23, 2018 – a new Allegan Co record. At least one remained through Mar 11. Six seen in same area July 13-21, 2019 by several observers. Seven observed September 1, 2019. (photo1) (photo2) (photo3)

April 2018: Whooping Crane

A first year (hatched 2017) Whooping Crane was found by Lisa Casler at Grand Haven State Game Area, Bruce Bayou, 129th Ave access in Ottawa Co April 11 and continued through April 14. Click here for Emily Tornga and Eric Gustafson's eBird report with photos and a video.

May 2018: Black-necked Stilt

On May 2, 2018 Steve Minard reported a Black-necked Stilt at Roselle Park in Kent County. This was the first reported sighting of the species in the county. Caleb Putnam was able to capture an excellent photograph of the bird.Fennville Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Allegan, Michigan

May 2018: Lark Sparrow

On May 3, 2018 Doug Wassink reported a rare Lark Sparrow at a private residence (farm) on 152nd Ave and Ransom St in Ottawa County. Judi Manning captured a photograph of the bird. (photo)

May 2018: Glossy Ibis

On May 31, Brad Heath discovered a rare Glossy Ibis on the west side of Swanson Rd a few hundred yards south of Heights-Ravenna Rd in Muskegon Co. This general area is known by birders as the S Swanson Rd potholes. Unfortunately, the bird could not be relocated the following day. Brad was able to capture two photographs of the Ibis. (photo1) (photo2)

June 2018: White-winged Dove

On June 20, Carl and Judi Manning posted an eBird report of a White-winged Dove at their bird feeder. This species' native range is from the southwestern United States through Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The bird was last reported on June 21. (photo1) (photo2)

October 2018: Mew Gull

While doing a shoreline survey by boat Oct 14, a very rare Mew Gull (approx. 9th state record if accepted by the Michigan Bird Records Committee) was found at the Kalamazoo River mouth in Allegan Co by Rick Brigham, MaryLou Graham, Julie Pedreros, Caleb Putnam and Chase Scholten. (photo1) (photo2)

October 2018: Rufous Hummingbird

A hatching year female Rufous Hummingbird (as reviewed and confirmed by Allen Chartier, Michigan’s hummingbird expert) was seen by many observers visiting a feeder at the Hank Veldman residence on Fennessy Lake in Ottawa Co Oct 18-19. (photo1) (photo2)

April 2019: Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

A rare Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was discovered by Michael and Karen Warner at Pine Creek Park in Ottawa Co on April 7. Evidently, the bird was only there for a day, but others also observed this rarity. This is reportedly the first time this species has been seen in Ottawa Co in over thirty years. (photo1) (photo2)

April 2019: Tufted Duck

A very rare Tufted Duck was discovered at the Fennville Sewage Ponds in Allegan Co on April 22 by Rick Brigham. The bird was observed associating with Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks. This rarity hung around until May 11 allowing hundreds of observations and additions to life lists. (photo)

June 2019: Eurasian Collared-Dove

Two Eurasian Collared-Doves were observed sitting in dead trees at the intersection of Byron Rd (Bus I-196) and 84th Ave in Ottawa Co on June 20 by Josh Kamp. The birds were still being seen Aug 16 and could be safely viewed from Westpark Way near the Holland Hospital Urgent Care facility south of the busy intersection. Josh also found the nine Eurasian Collared-Doves near Dorr in Allegan Co in February of 2018 (see above). (photo)

October 2019: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

On October 3, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was discovered at Muskegon Wastewater in Grassy Cell C1 by Roger Hagerman and a friend and verified by Adam Byrne.This was the second Sharp-tailed Sandpiper found at the Wastewater and the third state record. Click on the image left for Roger’s original eBird posting with photos. The first state record was also found at the Wastewater by Kevin Vande Vusse on August 11, 2016 (see listing above). (photo) (photo)

November 2019: Western Tanager

While on a late afternoon Ottawa County Parks bird walk at the 84th Ave access of Upper Macatawa Natural Area on November 1, ten participants discovered a probable first year male Western Tanager at the crosswalk over 84th Ave just south of the park entrance. The bird was eating insects in a box elder tree on the west side of the road next to the walking path. After observing the bird for about five minutes, all agreed on the ID. Photos were obtained, but the bird was partially obscured by leaves and branches. Unfortunately, the bird flew east/southeast into the woods and was not re-found. While searching the area on November 4, Chace Scholten happened upon the elusive bird in the same general location and was lucky enough to get a fairly decent photo before the bird again flew away. It was last seen on the 5th by several observers. (photo)

Area Rarities

These are sightings of rare birds reported in Allegan, Kent, Muskegon and Ottawa counties.

Click on the thumbnail of any of the birds for additional information.