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Birding Mason County: Hotspots near Ludington


(A) Lake Michigan Recreation Area ★★

Lake Michigan Recreation Area is a good place to visit for anybody looking for migrating birds. There are many trails leading throughout the park that can be productive for migrants, of which Arrowhead Trail is the most popular.

Map: Click here
Fees: There is a $5 day use charge. Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

Prairie WarblerPrairie Warbler


(B) Ludington State Park ★★

Favorably compared to the sandy dunes of North Carolina, Ludington State Park is a beautiful birding destination to visit. The three best spots in the park to look for birds are Sable River, Hamlin Lake, and Big Sable Point.

Other areas to check out are the well-marked trails leading between Lake Michigan and Lake Hamlin. Do not leave without walking the Island and Lost Lake trails to look for warblers and waterfowl. Prairie Warblers and Olive-sided Flycatchers have been seen nesting at Ludington State park.

Outdated travel guides may mention the Great Lakes Visitor Center, but do not bother trying to find the building, which was demolished in 2012 after being damaged by snow.

Website: | Map: Click here
Phone: (231) 843-2423
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

Big Sable LighthouseBig Sable Lighthouse


(C) Cartier Park ★★

Featuring nearly 200 full-hookup campsites, Cartier Park is a popular destination for birders with campers in the tow. Located on the shores of 156-acre Lincoln Lake, the park’s campground becomes crowded during the summer months, making reservations a requirement. The park also provides visitors with access to the Lincoln River. There is a 1.3 mile long paved trail available, providing birders a chance to see Green Herons, Yellow Warblers, and other birds in the riparian habitat.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here


(D) Stearns Park & Ludington North Pier ★

Stearns Park is a pretty little lakeshore park in the city of Ludington. The best time to visit is at dawn, when large flocks of gulls congregate to socialize before crowds of people arrive. Birders visiting Stearns Park in May or August may be fortunate enough to find sandpipers on the rocky edges of the pier. The structure juts 300 yards out into Lake Michigan, creating a good vantage point for scoping waterfowl.

Directions: Click here

Red KnotRed Knot


(E) Ludington Harbor ★

Ludington Harbor is a convenient place for birders to set up a scope and scan the protected bay for waterfowl. Sheltered by a rocky pier, the harbor is a great place to scan for diving ducks. In recent years, birders have sighted all three species of scoters.

Directions: Click here


(F) Ludington WTP ★

One of the city’s most convenient places for sighting waterfowl, Ludington Wastewater Treatment Plant enables birders to set up their scopes only 50 yards away from the sewage ponds. Before birding the area, visitors will have to get permission from the park office, which is open every day during business hours. During August, many species of sandpipers can be seen feeding on the sewage ponds. The treatment plant is a good place to find Sora, Virginia Rails, and Common Gallinules.

Phone: (231) 843-3190
Directions: Click here


(G) Sutton's Landing Park ★

Located on the south side of the Pere Marquette River Flats, Sutton's Landing Park is a small nature preserve with a handicap-accessible boardwalk. The park provides wheelchair-bound visitors access to wetlands, which sometimes harbor Sandhill Cranes, Black Terns, and Swamp Sparrows.

Directions: Click here

Swamp SparrowSwamp Sparrow


(H) Pere Marquette Memorial ★

Preserved because of its historical significance, Father Marquette’s shrine provides birders with access to nearly 400 feet of Pere Marquette Lake’s shoreline. Sandwiched between Pere Marquette Lake and Lake Michigan, the memorial is an excellent spot to search for waterfowl and sandpipers.

Directions: Click here


(I) Ludington South Pier ★

Located on the end of a two mile long peninsula, Ludington’s South Pier is a good spot to search for shorebirds. While it usually offers fewer birds than Ludington’s wastewater treatment plant, the South Pier is a better place to search for rarities. Over 27 species of shorebirds have been recorded during migration. The best time to visit is during the early morning hours before boat traffic starts to move through the harbor.

Directions: Click here