Purely Michigan Birds

    Now that you know Jackson County is for bird lovers, get some great help tailored just to Michigan!  The following books are focused on birding in Michigan. Lone Pine Press is one of the best publishers of Michigan materials, and Birds of Michigan by Ted Black is no exception.  This durable and attractive book is up-to-date and offers identification helps by comparing birds of similar appearance.  Other extras are nest descriptions and habitat. Drawings are perhaps not as beautiful as photographs but are excellent and reliable. Any book from this great publisher has my vote! (Also available for purchase at the Dahlem Center.)
    The birds of Michigan by James Granlund, et al, is not one you want to carry on hikes or even in the car--however, this large heavy book (5.5 pounds) is an incredible resource of bird detail from experts here in Michigan.  The extensive detail on each bird is matched by wonderful color paintings from renowned Michigan artist Frankenhuyzen. Written for all readers, this is a good book to have for in-depth, authoritative detail on Michigan birds.
    Another resource for getting familiar with common residents of the state, Birds of Michigan: a field guide by Stan Tekiela is a great tool.  This tiny book is lightweight with excellent photos. Great closeups accompany a page of helpful detail that includes incubation, fledging, food and more. Frequent extra photos are given of flight, juveniles, morphs, and more. Grouped by color, which is unusual and useful for someone new to birding. (Another one offered by the Dahlem Center.)
    The atlas of breeding birds of Michigan by Richard Brewer is a classic for expert Michigan birders.  This in-depth study of Michigan winged creatures begins with the vegetation, climate, soil and geography as well as the settlement patterns we people adopted--all of it shown on maps, often with county outlines. Then a section on each bird species has a page of compact detail on the bird's status and occurence in Michigan with the state map opposite, marking breeding reports by county. This book is worth a long look, since it will encourage you to look for birds you might not have thought occurred in your area (and keep you from wasting time on those that don't). For instance, I was trying to identify a flycatcher in my yard and discovered that the yellow-bellied flycatcher is not a resident of the Lower Peninsula.  Other maps did not give that precise a range. Not a field guide, the pages in this large book have only a small pen-and-ink drawing to remind us of the bird in question, but the wealth of incredible facts make it very attractive nonetheless. It is fascinating to discover, as an example, that the European House Sparrow was introduced to Michigan right here in  Jackson in 1876. And it has been competing with our native birds ever since.Sandhill Crane with title
    If you are just starting out and want to take a giant step ahead, consult Great birding in the Great Lakes: a guide to the 50 best birdwatching sites in the Great Lakes states by Tom Powers.  Powers, a Flint librarian, lists the terrific sites close by, with directions and high points that will be sure to make you feel less ignorant and helpless.  His reactions to visiting these accessible locations will lure you out and prepare you for these trips with universal, practical information and detail. Entertaining and readable, this may be one book to purchase for repeat consultation.