Cerulean Warbler Weekend

May 31-June 2, 2019, Barry County, Michigan

Located in scenic Barry County, MI, Cerulean Warbler Weekend is the time and place to see the iconic Cerulean Warbler. Packed with family-friendly workshops, birding trips, educational opportunities, and outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, join us for the Cerulean Warbler Weekend!

June is a magical time to visit rural Barry County in southwest Michigan! Frogs drumming, dragonflies buzzing, and Cerulean Warblers singing in habitat—you won’t want to miss Cerulean Warbler Weekend. A unique birding and educational opportunity, Cerulean Warbler Weekend features workshops and guided nature experiences will teach how to identify the habitat and song of the Cerulean Warbler. Species highlights include Henslow’s and Grasshopper Sparrow, Alder, Acadian, and Willow Flycatcher, Yellow-throated and Blue-headed Vireo, Hooded and of course, Cerulean Warbler.


About Cerulean Warblers

The Cerulean Warbler is a small bird of the deciduous forest treetops, the sky-blue Cerulean Warbler can be difficult to see. Cerulean Warbler is one of the species of highest concern in the eastern United States because of a small total population size and significant declines throughout its range. The North American Breeding Bird Survey estimates a decline of over 2.6% per year between 1966 and 2015, resulting in a cumulative loss of 74% of the population in that time. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 600,000, with 98% breeding in the U.S., and 2% in Canada. It is a Tri-National Concern Species and a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species and rates a 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Cerulean Warbler is on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

By 2080, this already declining Neotropical migrant is projected to have 98 percent of its current summer range shifted away from the current core, but it has potential to expand in the north, according to Audubon’s climate model. Mature hardwood forests that the bird depends on may not exist to the north and the forests expansion may not keep pace with the changing climate.

It nests and forages higher in the canopy than most other warblers. They breed in forests with tall deciduous trees and open understory, such as wet bottomlands and dry slopes. The Cerulean Warbler winters in broad-leaved, evergreen forests.

On the wintering grounds in South America, the Cerulean Warbler usually is found in mixed-species foraging flocks, associating with tropical tanagers and other resident species. When renesting after a failed first nest, the female often uses spider web from the old nest to start construction on the new nest. Fresh lining is gathered for the new nest, but spider web may be too valuable and time-consuming to waste. The female Cerulean Warbler has an unusual way of leaving a nest after sitting on it a while. Some people call it “bungee-jumping.” She drops from the side of the nest, keeping her wings folded to her sides, and opens her wings to fly only when she is well below the nest.

About Barry County

Lack of suitable habitat is the reason the Cerulean Warbler is the fastest-declining songbird species in North America. Only about 1,000 birds are found in Michigan each year. Barry County is one of the few refuges that remain for the Cerulean Warbler in Michigan. These birds require connected forests greater than 2,000 acres in size. Birders and researchers recognize Barry County as Michigan’s top spot for observing the Cerulean Warbler. Each spring, these songbirds migrate to the vast hardwood forests of the Yankee Springs and Barry State Game Areas. The fans of the Cerulean Warbler are never far behind!

2018 Schedule

Our program for Cerulean Warbler Weekend is full of amazing tours for you to see the wide assortment of species that breed in Barry County.


Check back for 2018 registration information.

Plan Your Visit

What to pack: Bring comfortable walking/hiking shoes, lightweight rain jacket, sweatshirt or fleece (evenings and mornings can be cool), reusable water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, optics, cameras, and field guides.
Optional gear: canoe, kayak, paddles, life jackets; bicycles, journals, art supplies, yoga mats.



Map & Directions:

The Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary is located at 3560 Havens Road in Hastings, Michigan*.

*Please note that GPS and online mapping tools may not give an accurate portrayal of this location. Limited roadside directional signage is posted to assist with finding the sanctuary.

Download Map


We often joke that “there isn’t a straight road to anywhere in Barry County, Michigan.” This is somewhat true, and Barry County’s charming rural roads can wreak havoc on GPS devices and online mapping tools. THE BEST WAY to navigate to the Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary is as follows:

From M-43, head west on Goodwill Road for 1.7 miles
From Goodwill Road, turn south on Havens Road; travel .5 miles and you’ve arrived at the sanctuary
From M-37 (Middleville Road), head south on N Irving Road for 1.1 miles
From N Irving Road, turn southwest on Gun Lake Road for 1 mile
From Gun Lake Road, turn south on Irway Road for 1.5 miles
From Irway Road, turn east on Goodwill Road for .3 miles
From Goodwill Road, turn south on Havens road for .5 miles and you’ve arrived at the sanctuary
From US-131 take exit 61 (Bradley/Hopkins) and head east on M-179 for about 10 miles
Note: M-179 may be called 129th Avenue at first and then will change to Chief Noonday Road
From Chief Noonday Road/M-179 turn south on Whitmore Road and travel 2.6 miles
From Whitmore Road turn east onto Goodwill Rd and travel less than 1 mile to Havens Road
From Goodwill Road, turn south on Havens road for .5 miles and you’ve arrived at the sanctuary


Michigan Audubon is a private non-profit organization, and is funded completely through donations, grants and memberships. Each year, the Cerulean Warbler Weekend attracts birders from around Michigan, the United States, and the world. Sponsorship is a great way for your business to show its commitment to wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation in Michigan.
Michigan Audubon is a member of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce.
The Otis Farm Bird Sanctuary is part of Global Important Bird Area (IBA), designated by National Audubon and BirdLife International.

Questions and Volunteering

For more information about attending, volunteering for, or sponsoring the Cerulean Warbler Weekend, please contact Michigan Audubon Education Coordinator Lindsay Cain at (517) 580-7364 or lcain@michiganaudubon.org.