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Birding Mackinac County: Hotspots near Mackinac Island & St. Ignace

 

(A) Point La Barbe ★

The Point La Barbe peninsula naturally funnels migrants toward its tip, resulting in a high density of birds during migration. There are currently no parking lots at the point, so pulling the car over to the side of the road will have to suffice. In the fall, search the meadows and shrubbery for warblers and sparrows, which rest for a short period before flying 3.5 miles to the Lower Peninsula.

Point La Barbe is a good place to look for Peregrine Falcons, which feed on Rock Pigeons living under the bridge. The area is also a good place to take scenic photographs of the Mackinac Bridge. Another reason to visit is to look for Michigan’s state wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris, which blooms in the meadows on the edge of Boulevard Drive from mid-May to early June.

Directions: Click here

Peregrine FalconPeregrine Falcon

 

(B) Mackinac Island ★★

Famous for its quaint shops and tasty fudge, Mackinac Island hearkens back to a simpler time. Featuring a variety of habitat types, the island’s terrain comprises lakeshore, fields, bogs, marshes, limestone formations, and boreal forest. Fortunately, much of the pristine landscape is protected from development by its status as part of Mackinac Island State Park.

Many kinds of migratory birds visit the island during the spring and fall. Bald Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks are abundant, as well as many kinds of songbirds including Indigo Buntings, American Redstarts, and Yellow Warblers.

During the winter, Snowy Owls will occasionally arrive from the arctic and hunt for waterfowl along the shoreline. The island’s convenient access to deep water creates an excellent place to search for Long-tailed Ducks, Common Loons, and other species of waterfowl.

Website: mackinacferry.com
Directions: Click here

 

(C) Horseshoe Bay ★★

Horseshoe Bay features a popular birding trail that starts at Foley Campground and leads birders to a sandy beach on Horseshoe Bay. Common Loons, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Bald Eagles are a few of the birds that live near the bay. Magnolia Warblers and Black-throated Blue Warblers nest in the trees near the trail. Although the campground permanently closed a few years ago, the trail should still be accessible.

Website: goo.gl/w43SGp
Directions: Click here

 

(D) Carp River Road Fishing Access ★

Offering access to Carp River and Lake Huron, the boat launch on Carp River Road offers a large parking lot for birders to use. Several large meadows near the parking lot provide visitors with a rare respite from the Upper Peninsula’s heavily forested terrain. Chipping Sparrows and Horned Larks can sometimes be seen near the access point.

Flowing water meets Lake Huron’s shoreline at the Carp River mouth, creating an ice-free zone. Because the waters are shallow, many sandpipers make a brief stopover during migration to look for food. Great numbers of Whimbrels have been counted in the past, and Little Gulls can occasionally be found. Other birds which can regularly be seen are Common Terns and Common Loons. The woods near Carp River are a good place to find warblers during the springtime.

Directions: Click here

WhimbrelWhimbrel

 

(E) Pontchartrain Shores Rd Lake Access ★

Pontchartrain Shores Road provides birders with a way to access Lake Huron’s north shore. The woods surrounding the road are a good place to check for warblers during migration. American Redstarts and Yellow-rumped Warblers have been recorded nesting next to Pontchartrain Shores Road.

Directions: Click here

 

(F) Birge Nature Preserve ★★

Managed by the Little Traverse Conservancy, Birge Nature Preserve is an impressive natural complex consisting of Loon Lake, hardwoods, cedar wetlands, and over 6,400 feet of Mismer Bay shoreline. There are many kinds of wildlife that frequent the area. Beaver dams are a common sight.

One of the best places to search for birds is on a trail that leads to Loon Lake. Birders hiking the short trail should watch for Common Loons, Ospreys, and Bald Eagles. A 2.5 mile loop trail was recently created to provide better access to the forest, where Pileated Woodpeckers, thrushes, and many species of nesting warblers can be seen.

Map: Click here
Phone: (231) 347-0991
Directions: Click here

BeaverBeaver

 

(G) Mackinaw Bay Nature Preserve ★★

Covering 22 acres, Mackinaw Bay Nature Preserve consists mostly of freshwater marshes. The park’s only development is a parking lot; there are no amenities available. The excellent birding habitat and quick access, however, make the preserve a worthy stop for birders en route to other destinations.

Map: Click here
Phone: (231) 347-0991
Directions: Click here