Welcome to the birding information webpage for Ottawa County Parks! For the casual backyard bird watcher to the most serious of birders, Ottawa County provides a wonderful setting to enjoy these avian wonders. Our hope is that Ottawa County Parks, in particular, can be a means by which you can enjoy birds all the more. From the resources listed on this page and bird-related programs we offer all year long to the variety of natural spaces we provide, our aim is to help you enjoy the wonderful diversity of birds our county has to offer! Please let us know how we’re doing and how we can improve in providing this service. Thank you!
Stay Connected - Sign up for the Birding Update email list!
Want to stay connected to the Ottawa County birding community? Sign up here to receive e-mail information on bird-related programs, bird news, videos, and opportunities to submit your bird sightings! The newsletter style Newswire! emails go out monthly and the shorter Quick Look emails go out periodically between monthly emails.
Ottawa County Parks Program Calendar
Year-round birding programs, walks, and outings, along with all other Ottawa County Parks programs can be found at this link. Many are free, but some may have a minimal fee.
- Bird Video Playlists
- Web Resources
- All About Birds – Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s online Bird Guide with ID help, songs & calls, and life history information for 600+ North American Species.
- Audubon Guide to North American Birds - Online Bird Guide with photos and drawings, songs and range maps and natural history information for the birds of North America.
- BirdNet Website & App - The Easiest Way To Identify Birds By Sound. Record the birds you hear, then let the software analyze the sounds and tell you what you’re listening to! BirdNet is the research and development partnership between The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Chemnitz University of Technology aimed at developing ways for computers to recognize and identify birds sounds.
- Apps for Smartphones
- eBird Mobile App - eBird Mobile makes it easy to record the birds you see in the field, while making your data openly available for scientific research, education, and conservation. eBird Mobile is the only app that passes information directly from iOS and Android devices to your eBird account on the web.
- Merlin Bird ID App - This app both provides the pictures, range maps and songs of your regional birds but also helps identify the birds you are seeing. It asks you three simple questions about a bird and comes up with a list of possible matches. Snap a photo of a bird, or pull one in from your camera roll, and Photo ID will offer a short list of possible matches.
- Sibley Guide to Birds App - The entire content of the Sibley Guide to Birds – the most popular, most comprehensive, and fastest-selling printed field guide to North American birds – is now available in digital form as an app for several mobile phone platforms. It includes over 6600 images, every word of text, 800 range maps – along with the songs and calls of nearly every species… and all in your pocket.
- Web Resources
Local Birding Clubs & Resources
Connect with other birders and find birding programs and outings by joining a local club.
- Local Bird Clubs
- Birds of Ottawa County Checklist an Annotated Checklist (2015) -
This book is KEY to your birding success in West Michigan and Ottawa County
specifically. It contains valuable information on where and when to look for all the
birds that visit Ottawa County! Bar charts and descriptions for each species are
extremely helpful to learn about our local birds. While this does not contain
identification information, it pairs well with the Sibley Guide to Birds. In the
future you may be able to purchase one online, but otherwise you can find one at the
Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park.
A NEW 2020 Update to this book has now been released and is available for free download here:
- Birds of Ottawa County: An Annotated Checklist is available to
purchase ($14.95, plus tax) at the following locations:
- Ottawa County Parks office located at the Ottawa County Parks Administrative Office.
- The Bookman in Grand Haven - check their website for hours.
- Reader's World Bookstore - check their website for hours.
You can also purchase the book by phone by calling (616) 738-4810. You can choose to pick it up at the Administrative Office or have it shipped to you (please note a shipping fee will apply).
Watch the video linked below for more information on this book and 2020 update and how to use them in concert with a bird identification book.
Backyard Habitats for Birds
For the Birds: Fostering Backyard Habitat to Attract Birds
Curtis Dykstra - Parks Naturalist, Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
Resource List (Updated 3/10/23)
Native Plants for Birds
- Native Plants for Birds - MI Audubon
- Native Plants for Birds - Wild Ones Red Cedar Chapter
- All About Birds - Best Plants & Trees for Birds
- Native Michigan Hummingbird Plants
- Ottawa Conservation District
- Kent Conservation District
- Building a
- Cardinal Couple uses Brush Pile & Bird Bath (Extended video)
- Setting Up My Bird Bath
- Setting up Hummingbird and Oriole feedersh
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Project Feeder Watch
- AllAboutBirds: How to Choose the Right Kind of Bird Feeder
- The Spruce: 7 Best Bird Feeders
- All About Birds: How to Clean Your Bird Feeder
- VIDEO: Leslie the Bird Nerd - Why EVERYONE should keep their Bird Feeders CLEAN
- American Bird Conservancy: Preventing Window Strikes
Cleaning Bird Baths
Bird Nest Boxes
Ottawa County Parks
- Bird Resources Page (Birds of Ottawa County Book & Video)
- Backyard Birding Videos by Curtis Dykstra
- Bringing Nature to You (Ottawa County Parks Online Programs & Resources)
- Coffee with the Birds
- Sign Up for our Birding Update Email List
Other Birding Resources
- eBird – Report and track your
bird sightings while providing valuable data for scientists and conservationists to
protect birds and their habitats. eBird also give you the ability to receive notices
about birds you don’t have on your list and research both where to go to find the
birds you want to and to know what birds you can expect to find when you travel to
new locations along with MUCH, MUCH MORE!
- New to eBird? Start by taking the FREE eBird Essentials course. This 100% free, online course answers most new user questions and helps you start eBirding faster!
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology – Your one stop shop portal to anything to do with birds from identification and feeding & attracting to conservation and citizen science projects to get involved with. Their mission states: Dedicated to advancing the understanding and protection of the natural world, the Cornell Lab joins with people from all walks of life to make new scientific discoveries, share insights, and galvanize conservation action.
- BirdCast - When, where, and how far will birds migrate? Our migration forecasts will answer these questions for the first time. Bird migration forecast maps show predicted nocturnal migration 3 hours after local sunset and are updated every 6 hours. Additionally, watch real-time analysis maps of intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration, as detected by the US weather surveillance radar network between local sunset to sunrise. Cornell Lab of Ornithology currently produces these maps.
- Cornell Lab Live Bird Cams – Watch birds around the country or around the world LIVE online! From the feeders at Cornell’s Sapsucker Woods in New York to the Panama Fruit Feeders or the Royal Albatross nest in New Zealand, viewing these cams is sure to be an exciting look into the lives of birds all around the world.
- Cornell Citizen Science - Become a “citizen scientist” by getting involved with various projects that Cornell Lab sponsors such as Feeder Watch, Nest Watch, Great Backyard Bird Count and more!
- Native Plants & Garden Designs for Bird Friendly Landscapes - Michigan Audubon – The best local guide for planting native plants in your yard to attract birds.
- American Birding Association (ABA) - The American Birding Association inspires all people to enjoy and protect wild birds. The ABA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides leadership to birders by increasing their knowledge, skills, and enjoyment of birding. We are the only organization in North America that specifically caters to recreational birders. We also contribute to bird and bird habitat conservation through our varied programs.
- American Bird Conservancy - American Bird Conservancy is dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats and build capacity for bird conservation.
- Audubon's 10 Best Podcasts About Birds – For your listening pleasure so you can get your birding fill, even when you can’t get outside!
- Lesley the Bird Nerd – A YouTube channel about our incredible avian species, as well as the wild birds that she knows really well. Leslie learns as she goes and her goal is to get people interested in birds and birding because it's a rewarding experience that everyone should try!
- Wildlife Rehab Center - Grand Rapids – If you have questions about care for injured or orphaned wildlife, please contact the Wildlife Rehab Center in Grand Rapids. The Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing is not equipped to help in these situations. The website is a great resource to help you know what you need to do when you find injured or orphaned birds, mammals and more!
- eBird – Report and track your bird sightings while providing valuable data for scientists and conservationists to protect birds and their habitats. eBird also give you the ability to receive notices about birds you don’t have on your list and research both where to go to find the birds you want to and to know what birds you can expect to find when you travel to new locations along with MUCH, MUCH MORE!