Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

The Awesome Mitten - Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Photo courtesy of Sally Thelen

Prior to my arrival at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, I didn’t have any high hopes for what kind of birds I’d see there.

In fact, I didn’t really think I’d see any birds. I have poor eyesight and even worse patience. I’m not the type of person to camp out in the wilderness for hours, blinking through binoculars, trying to catch a glimpse of some rare Blue-Tailed, Speckled-Bill Bobbin. (I just made that up. I don’t think that’s actually a name of a bird. Is it?)

So I was surprised when I was purchasing my entrance ticket into the park, and I was asked if I also wanted to buy a pail of dried corn for a dollar. The corn, I was told, was for the waterfowl that lived in the sanctuary.

Instantly, I had visions of my communing with all my new bird besties like some modern-day Disney princess. I plonked my money down, scooped up my bucket of corn and marched out the door of the information office.

And then that’s when I heard it.

It sounded like a parade was going on outside. Except a parade where the only instruments were wind instruments and the only people playing them were two-year-olds.

I made my way to the source of the sound, and that’s when I discovered a lake full of Trumpeter Swans.

The Awesome Mitten - Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Photo courtesy of Sally Thelen

They were beautiful, majestic, and utterly terrifying.

You see, I’ve had something of a lifelong fear of geese. I know this may sound silly, but, growing up, my neighbors had geese. And in case you’ve never spent quality time with geese, let me inform you of something: geese are bullies. Big, cranky, feathery bullies. During my childhood, it was not uncommon to be suddenly and violently attacked by the neighborhood geese while doing something mundane like taking a walk or going trick-or-treating.

And, well, as far as I’m concerned, swans are pretty much the same thing as geese, but bigger and crankier.

I tentatively made my way to the lake, gratefully noting the fence that separated me from my would-be attackers. I threw a few handfuls of corn in the general direction of the swans and other waterfowl. None of them attempted to poke my eyeballs out, which I took as a good sign.

The Awesome Mitten - Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Photo courtesy of Sally Thelen

I made my way along the lake, throwing out more handfuls of corn with one hand while trying to protect myself from spontaneous bird-attack with the other, when I came across a section of the fence which was patrolled by a band of very noisy, very hungry swans.

I noticed a three-year-old girl next to me poking her hand in the fence to feed the swans with absolutely no regard to the fact that the swan could take off with her arm at any moment. And that’s when I decided if a three-year-old could do it, so could I.

The Awesome Mitten - Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
Photo courtesy of Sally Thelen

You guys, it was completely and totally horrifying.

And awesome.

And I’m pretty sure me and this swan are besties right now.

What’s your favorite bird to spot at a bird sanctuary?

MSU’s Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

12685 East C Ave.

Augusta, MI 49012

Phone: (269) 671-2510





Hours of Operation

November through April: 9am – 5pm

May-October: 9am – 7pm

Admission: Adults $5, Children (2-17 years old) $3, Under 2 is free

In addition to the collection of very friendly waterfowl, the sanctuary has a number of rescued birds of prey and endangered game birds on display. They also have walking trails, a picnic area and a gift shop. Guided and group tours are available, as well as educational events and workshops.

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