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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Spring Migration in the Midwest

Eastern Wood Warblers

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-United States citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details.

PACE OF TOUR: The tour is moderately strenuous, with long days, early departures, and moderate walks. Most mornings we’ll depart an hour after dawn or shortly thereafter. There is a fairly steep walking trail at Red River Gorge where a walking stick might be helpful.  The walks at Tawas Point State Park can be lengthy, a few miles at a time (round trip) and a small portion of it might be on sand. There will be few afternoon breaks other than driving between spots. Most days we try to end our birding about 7:00 p.m. We may on occasion offer additional birding after dinner. Still, we often don’t retire until after 9:00 p.m. so this tour can be tiring. Other than on the first full day, the terrain is fairly level. On a few occasions, there will be the option of resting in the motel rather than birding. However, if one has trouble walking, this tour will be difficult.

RESTROOM BREAKS:  Restrooms and/or porta-potty breaks will be made available throughout the tour on most days.  There will be a few days on tour when a restroom break in nature will be required if needed, so participants must be comfortable with this.

HEALTH: Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio present no real hazards to the visiting birdwatcher. 

Insects and Arachnids:  Biting insects are occasionally a problem in northern Michigan and possibly elsewhere if it is a very early spring. It is best to have bug repellent along just in case. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. Care must be taken, however, to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment as DEET dissolves rubber and plastic and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and outfitters carry some reasonably effective alternatives, which contain natural products and aren’t corrosive. 

Dog ticks are present in numbers in grassland areas throughout and it is best to check yourself carefully if we walk into a field. These large ticks are readily visible, unlike the smaller deer ticks, and usually take their time before trying to attach, so careful inspections after walking in tick areas is well advised. It is unclear how effective repellent is in keeping them off you. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

CLIMATE: Mid-May weather in the Midwest can be extremely variable with temperatures possibly ranging from the mid-30s (even high 20s) to the high 80s F. Some precipitation, perhaps heavy and possible as snow, is likely during the course of the week as various weather systems pass through and it can be windy as well. Bring warm clothes!

FOOD: Food is North American standard. Lunches will be a mix of picnics (as weather permits) and quick service restaurants.

WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and with the exception of WINGS tours to destinations in the US, no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip.  

Food Allergies / Requirements:  We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by 15- [or 12-] passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 15-passenger window vans, we will take a maximum of seven passengers plus the leader/driver. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in our tour vehicles.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Scenery and memory shots will be plentiful and simple to obtain but birds are difficult to photograph, though conditions at Crane Creek and Tawas Point occasionally provide outstanding opportunities to photograph migrant eastern birds. We suggest a digital camera or a 35mm camera for scenes and for chance bird photographs. A telephoto lens is virtually essential for bird photography.  “Digiscoping” is perfectly compatible with the tour, though you should bring your own spotting scope. Please be aware that birdwatching tours do not provide the best conditions for bird photography as the group will move with the leader so may not be able to stay in locations for better lighting or a better view of the bird once everyone has had a chance to see the bird.  If you wish to ‘digiscope’ please ensure that you bring your own spotting scope; the leader’s scope will not be available for this purpose. Be certain to bring as many memory cards as you think you will use, as it may be difficult to find precisely what you need on short notice. Camera equipment should be packed in moisture- and dust-proof bags as a precaution. 

Updated: 29 January 2024