Fine Feathered Friends 

Grab your binoculars and head out into nature to observe some birds. Multiple locations offer a broad diversity of birds in the Bays de Noc area. Our favorite place to catch a view of this diverse range of birds is at the tip of the Stonington Peninsula, near the Peninsula Point Lighthouse. There have been over 200 species of birds identified at this location!

Click here for U.P. Bird Species

Bark River

O.B. Fuller Park

Drive south of Escanaba towards the mouth of the Bark River to reach this 82-acre wooded park on the bay. You have high odds of seeing migrant birds in this dune-swale ecosystem along the shores of Little Bay de Noc. Whether it’s Spring or Fall, you’ll see a large number of Sandhill Cranes migrating along the shoreline. During the Fall, catch a glimpse of broad-winged Hawks migrating. After you’ve had your fill of bird observing, you can move around the park to find the UP’s only lizard; the Five-lined Skink!

Photo by: John Mcdonough

Escanaba

Ludington Park

The mile-long park located on Escanaba’s waterfront has habitat enhancements in place to help migratory birds. There is a nesting box on Sand Point, past the lighthouse, that is home to the only remaining Purple Martin colony in the Upper Peninsula. Walk around the park and find all kinds of habitats perfect for birds. Visit this park in April and May to see migrant birds like swallows, sparrows, ducks, warblers, vireos, orioles, and shorebirds. Walk south of the Escanaba Municipal Beach during a low water year, and you could see the Common Tern and the Federally endangered Piping Plover nesting on the sand island. Keep adventuring south of Ludington Park to Veteran’s Park, where you might see both the American and Least (rare) Bittern. Look out for Marsh Wren. Some more birds to keep an eye out for in this area are the Ring-necked Pheasant, Bohemian Waxwing, Thayer’s Gull, Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, Yellow-rumped (AUDUBON’S) Warbler, Palm Warbler, Common Tern, and Bufflehead Duck.

Photo by: John Mcdonough

North Shore Boat Launch

The Escanaba river keeps the birds very active! You could find the Snow Goose in the Spring and Fall, Duck year-round, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Broad-winged Hawk, Warblers, Sparrows, and Winter Finch. Thanks to the current of the river, there is open water in the Winter.  This makes for a good spot to visit and see out-of-season species like Northern Pintail, Belted Kingfisher, and Ruddy Duck.

Photo by: John Mcdonough

Bonus Spot:

There is a pond west of Meijer that has a wide range of birds that stop by here. None of them are consistent, so check it out for yourself and see who’s there today! Some birds that have been spotted here are Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, Duck, Egret, Lesser Yellowlegs, Green Heron, Merlin, Cedar Waxwing, and even Bald Eagle. 

Photo by: John Mcdonough

Portage Marsh State Wildlife Management Area

Breeding birds love to hang out at this 600-acre coastal marsh! Just south of Escanaba, this is one of the greatest birding sites in the region. This is one of the best locations in the U.P. to see breeding birds such as Willow Flycatcher, Marsh Wren, American and Least Bittern (rare), Sora and Virginia Rails. During Lake Michigan’s lower water-level seasons, there is a lagoon that you can get to from the parking lot that has shorebirds. There you can see Hudsonian and Marbled Godwit (both uncommon), Willet, and Long-billed Dowitcher in the Fall. Northeast of the parking lot is where the migrant warblers hang out in the willows next to the far point and at the sometimes visible island. If you’re lucky in the Spring, you can observe the show of thousands of Tree Swallows roosting. More groups of birds to look out for here are Broad-winged Hawks and Sandhill Cranes in the Fall. Also, Common Nighthawks in August, and Common Goldeneyes off the south beach in early Spring.

Photo by: www.zacharyschneiderstudio.com

Gladstone

Saunders Point

Located northeast of Van Cleve Park in Gladstone, this is a great place to see waterbirds and land birds during the Spring and Fall migrations. Head southwest along the shoreline towards Van Cleve Park to find more bird observing areas. The park and marina in Gladstone have perfect spots for watching Bald Eagle, Red-bellied Woodpecker, and Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler. Red-headed Woodpeckers and Pine Warblers find places to breed within the towering White Pines and Red Oaks of this city park.

Photo by: John Mcdonough

Nahma

Hiawatha National Forest

Try to find one of the smallest native owl species in North America while in the forest, the Northern Saw-whet Owl. Take US 2 east from Escanaba then make a left on NF-13. Drive down this road and you will find multiple spots to pull over and walk around dense thickets of shrubs and conifers, remember to look for them at eye level and about 20 feet up in trees. 

Indian Point

Just west of Nahma along the shoreline is a beautiful turnaround parking lot that has a trail leading you through landscapes perfect for Sand Hill Crane, Black-bellied Plover, Common Moorhen, Hudsonian Godwit, Marbled Godwit, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Bring your muck boots so you can adventure even further during high water on Lake Michigan. 

Rapid River

Rapid River Boat Launch

Whether you want to see the largest and fastest North American bird, the Golden Eagle, or the heaviest living North American native bird, the Trumpeter Swan, this is the spot.  Drive south down Main Street to the tip of the peninsula where both these magnificent birds have been seen. You also have a chance to see Bald Eagles, Eastern Bluebirds, Ring-necked Ducks, and Sandhill Cranes. The prehistoric caw of the Sandhill Crane often echos through the open plains during the day.

Peninsula Point

This is one of the most well-known birdwatching places in the Upper Peninsula. The tip of the Stonington Peninsula is a phenomenal place to catch a peak of birds during their Spring migration. This peninsula has a ton of food for birds, making it their first option for a place to rest after a long flight.  Some recent rarities that have been seen here include the Western Tanager, Gyrfalcon, Lark Sparrow, and Hooded Warbler.

There are many exciting and unique birds to see in this area. Many Springs in a row Rapid River was visited by an Albino Robin! Other common birds in the area include the following:

 Northern Pintail, Redhead Ducks, Common Merganser, Great Egret, Broad-winged Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Greater Yellowlegs, Whimbrel, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, Winter Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Pipit, Orange-crowned Warbler, Vesper Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Rusty Blackbird, and White-winged Crossbill.

Photo: www.Seed-Solutions.com

The Golden-winged Warbler is an uncommon and declining summer resident, most numerous in the northern Lower Peninsula and parts of the Upper Peninsula. They arrive in May and depart by mid-September. It is more local than the blue-winged warbler, and its range retracts northward as the blue-winged expands and hybridizes with it.

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