Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area


When rare Michigan species are classified as Endangered (E) or Threatened (T), they are protected under the Endangered Species Act of the State of Michigan. Others may be classified as species of Special Concern (SC). While not afforded legal protection under the Act, many of these species are of concern because of declining or small remaining populations in the state. For more information consult the Michigan Natural Features Inventory (CLICK HERE).


Prairie Warbler (Dendroica discolor) MI-E. A local breeding population nests annually on the SHNA in stands of Jack Pines and has also been documented using the Deam and Oval Beach properties.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)(MI-SC). The Bald Eagle has been removed from the US list of endangered and threatened species, but it remains protected by federal laws and is listed as Special Concern in Michigan. These magnificent birds have been observed foraging and resting along the Oxbow Lagoon and Kalamazoo River in and around the SHNA. They have nested successfully upstream in the Allegan State Game Area, and, as the population expands, the SHNA and surrounding natural area could be viable nesting habitat.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus )(MI-SC). This raptor, easily identified by its white underside, seems to return to the SHNA area every year during migrations. It has been seen fishing in the OxBow Lagoon.

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)(MI-SC). This raptor is also known to forage annually in and around the SHNA.

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)(MI-T) This threatened species has been observed foraging in and around the SHNA during migrations.

Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)(MI-SC) This small, graceful tern forages on the SHNA and over the marshes along the Oxbow Lagoon. A population nests in the marshes farther upstream along the Kalamazoo River.

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) (US-E, MI-E). A Piping Plover was photographed on the SHNA in 2011. This small rare shorebird is in danger of extinction because it often nests on pebbled edges of Great Lakes beaches and is easily disturbed by human activities on the beach.

Uncommon Bird Sightings (CLICK HERE)


Zigzag Bladderwort (Uticularia subulata) (MI-T). The SHNA population of this wetland wildflower species is one of only three reported in Michigan.

Meadow-Beauty (Rhexia virginica) (MI-SC). This is a rare wildflower known historically from the marshes on the SHNA.

Trailing Wild Bean (Strophostyles helvula) (MI-SC) This native Michigan wildflower was discovered and documented in 2002 along the shores of the Oxbow Lagoon.

Pitcher’s Thistle (Cirsium pitcher) (US-T, MI-T). A known population exists in the open dunes north of the Kalamazoo River Channel and in Saugatuck Dunes State Park. It has also been seen in the dunes at Oval Beach, but it has not been reported in the SHNA proper.


Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) (MI-T) This native turtle is in decline in Michigan but was reported in the OxBow Lagoon in 2002. This sighting has not yet been confirmed, but the habitat is appropriate.

Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) (MI-SC). This species is known to occur in the uplands of adjacent parklands both north and south of the Kalamazoo River, including Tallmadge Woods, Mt. Baldhead woods and Saugatuck Dunes State Park. The lack of roads nearby is beneficial.

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans blanchardi) (MI-T). A known breeding population of this rare amphibian occurs in the marshes and shoreline of the OxBow Lagoon as well as in the interdunal wetlands of the SHNA. The isolated and undeveloped nature of the property is important and beneficial for this rare species.


One of the main goals for management of the Natural Area is to preserve its fragile habitats. This may encourage some rare species to return to these dunes, shores and wetlands. An observant visitor might be the first to see one of these. A list of rare, threatened and endangered plants in Michigan can be found (CLICK HERE). A similar list for rare animals is also at the MNFI site (CLICK HERE).

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