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Michigan dnr > wildlife viewing guide > southern lower peninsula > waterloo

105 Haehnle Audubon Sanctuary and Waterloo Recreation Area Southern Lower Peninsula

wildlife viewing  |  directions and facility information

scenic shrubby fields Shrubby old fields are great for viewing upland birds. Like formations of large aircraft, sandhill cranes set their wings and glide in for a landing against the autumn sunset. Cranes rely on waste grain in harvested farm fields for the energy they need to migrate to Georgia and Florida for the winter.

The majority of the Haehnle Sanctuary was once farmland that has now been restored to wildlife habitat. Young forest, shrubby fields, wet meadows, and open wetlands dominate the area. This site has few facilities and is intended for low impact recreational use at no cost to visitors. More than 30 acres of abandoned fields have been planted with native grasses and wildflowers. There are also more than 200 acres of degraded wetlands being restored (should be completed within a year). The Waterloo Recreation Area comprises more than 20,000 acres of rolling woodlands, old pastures, wetlands, and lakes. Portions of this area are highly developed and used, but much of the area receives little attention. Waterloo offers camping, skiing, horse trails, bike trails, and more than 30 miles of hiking trails.

Wildlife Viewing

The primary attraction of this area is the fall migration of sandhill cranes. As many as 3,000 of these large wading birds can be seen in the wetland areas of Haehnle Sanctuary in the mornings and evenings from late September through November, and are often still there in mid December. In 2001 there were 4,000 cranes. This is the largest concentration of cranes in Michigan. By driving the county roads through Waterloo and within 5 miles of Haehnle, you may discover large flocks of cranes feasting on waste grain in local farm fields. Michiganís tallest bird, the sandhill crane stands about 4 feet tall, with a wingspan of 6 feet. More than 200 other kinds of birds have also been sighted in this area. A large concentration of cranes seen on a frosty October morning will be a memory not soon forgotten!

Portions of Waterloo are open to public hunting. Check with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for hunting seasons and regulations. A state game area map is available at www.michigan.gov/dnr. Click on "Publications & Maps" and then on "On-line maps." Click on "State Game Areas and Other Wildlife Areas" and scroll down to Waterloo State Game Area. Hunting on the Haehnle Sanctuary is prohibited.

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From Ann Arbor, take I-94 west. Take Exit 156 and follow the highway signs to Waterloo State Recreation Area headquarters. For the Haehnle Sanctuary, follow I-94 to Exit 147. Turn right (north) on Race Road and proceed about 2 miles to Seymour Road. Turn left (west) and continue about 1 mile to the entrance of the Sanctuary, which is on the right. CAUTION: Site entrance is a partially hidden drive. Use caution when entering and exiting from Seymour road.

Ownership: Haehnle Sanctuary: Michigan Audubon Society (517) 769-6891
Waterloo Recreation Area: Michigan Department of Natural Resources (734) 475-8307

Size: Haehnle Sanctuary: Nearly 1,000 acres
Waterloo Recreation Area: 22,000 acres

Closest Town: Grass Lake

Weather and Driving Directions for Grass Lake

Plan Your Trip with travel.michigan.org!

More information can be found by visiting the DNR's site (link leads to web app allowing users to search for campgrounds, harbors, trails and more), or by conducting a Google search:


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