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Birding Keweenaw County: Hotspots near Copper Harbor & Hancock

 

(A) Calumet Lakeshore Road ★

Calumet Lakeshore Road runs parallel to Lake Superior's shoreline, then ends at a circular parking area, where a small trail leads to the lakeshore. Look for Red-breasted Mergansers and other species of diving ducks.

Directions: Click here

Red-breasted MerganserRed-breasted Merganser

 

(B) Ahmeek Sewage Lagoons ★

The Ahmeek Sewage Lagoons consist of several large ponds located a short distance northwest of Ahmeek. During migration, the lagoons are a good place to look for waterfowl and sandpipers.

Directions: Click here

 

(C) Ahmeek Marsh ★

Ahmeek Marsh is a large swamp located between Copper City and US-41. For birders visiting the marsh, American Bitterns, Virginia Rails, and Soras are all possible sightings.

Directions: Click here

Virginia RailVirginia Rail

 

(D) Redwyn Dunes Nature Sanctuary ★★

Protecting 36 acres of stable dunes, Redwyn Dune Nature Sanctuary’s sandy hills are fortified by oak trees and a pine forest. The park features a one-mile long trail which leads through the dune forest and around several ponds. Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Grosbeaks, and Purple Finches regularly visit Redwyn Dunes.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

 

(E) Cat Harbor ★★

Cat Harbor is a small bay on the northwest side of Keweenaw Peninsula. There are several islands offshore that shelter the coastline from storms. After birding Cat Harbor, drive west on M-26 for 1.2 miles to a large, paved parking lot located next to Great Sand Bay (47.4461, -88.2161).

From the parking lot, birders can scan the bay for Common Loons and other birds, then follow a trail east for several miles to reach Red Pine Dunes Nature Sanctuary.

Directions: Click here

 

(F) Eagle Harbor Light Station ★

The Eagle Harbor Light Station Museum Complex is an excellent place to stop and scan the harbor for ducks, terns, and other birds. During migration, many species of shorebirds can be seen resting on the beach preparing to fly over Lake Superior. Red-breasted Mergansers nest at Eagle Harbor every year.

Website: keweenawhistory.org
Phone: (906) 289-4990
Directions: Click here

Eagle Harbor Light StationEagle Harbor Light Station

 

(G) Eagle Harbor Marina ★

Eagle Harbor is in an enclosed area that protects the bay from rough Lake Superior waters. The marina is on a peninsula, providing visitors with views of both Eagle Harbor and Lake Superior. During the springtime, the peninsula is a good place to look for migrating sparrows and warblers.

Directions: Click here

 

(H) Lake Bailey Wildlife Sanctuary ★★

Operated by the Michigan Audubon Society, Lake Bailey Wildlife Sanctuary is a heavily wooded area with steep terrain. The sanctuary’s 405 acres are a good place to watch birds of prey as they migrate through the Keweenaw Peninsula. Some of the birds commonly seen are Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes, Northern Waterthrushes, Northern Parulas, and Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos.

The forest is very dense, with only a few trails leading through it. According to Dana Richter, a former president of Copper County Audubon, some areas are "so impenetrable that only a bird can get in!"

Directions: Click here

Northern ParulaNorthern Parula

 

(I) Brockway Mountain Sanctuary ★★

Thousands of hawks soar on thermals over the top of 1,320-foot high Brockway Mountain every spring. The peak is one of the premier hawkwatching sites in the Midwest. While most other hawkwatch sites are active in the fall, the best time to visit Brockway Mountain is during the spring. Golden Eagles are one the first migrants to arrive. The raptor odyssey starts around the middle of March and peaks at the end of April, when thousands of Broad-winged Hawks fly overhead.

Birders visiting the Audubon sanctuary will enjoy walking the Oren Krumm Trail. The half-mile long hike may be short, but its steep inclines require much effort to climb. An influx of warblers and thrushes can be seen from the trail during spring migration.

Directions: Click here

 

(J) Hunter's Point Park ★★

Hunter's Point Park is a 9.8-acre park that acts as a barrier island for Copper Harbor, protecting the town from the legendary storms which sometime sweep across Lake Superior. One of the area’s highlights is a walking trail that runs 1.6 miles from Copper Harbor Visitor Center to Hunter’s Point Park. Visitors will also enjoy walking on a short boardwalk which leads to an overlook above Lake Superior.

During spring migration, Hunter’s Point Park becomes an especially attractive birding hotspot. The finger-shaped preserve provides a staging ground for songbirds to rest before migrating across Lake Superior. The best time to search for migrants is on a morning with clear skies and a southerly wind. In recent years, visitors to the park have seen 21 kinds of warblers and 8 kinds of sparrows.

Map: Click here
Directions: Click here

(K) Copper Harbor Lighthouse ★★

Accessible only by boat tour, Copper Harbor Lighthouse's position on a land peninsula attracts large numbers of migrants every spring. The best strategy for birding the area is to ride the ferry to the lighthouse by early in the day and request permission to return to Copper Harbor later on a different boat tour. The peninsula provides good views of Copper Harbor and the rocky Lake Superior shoreline.

Website: copperharborlighthouse.com
Phone: (906) 289-4966
Directions: Click here

Copper Harbor LighthouseCopper Harbor Lighthouse

 

(L) Isle Royale National Park ★★

A precious monument to the wild beauty of the north, Isle Royale National Park is one of the least-visited national parks in the country. The park’s terrain is purely boreal since the cold winters are brutal enough to keep many of the deciduous tree species from growing.

There are many kinds of waterfowl that nest at Isle Royale National Park. Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Loons can often be seen with their young ones on the canals which lead inland from Lake Superior. In the north part of the island, thick spruce and fir forests create great habitat for flycatchers and warblers. On the south side, the high ground and maple forests make the area an optimal place to find Sharp-tailed Grouse, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Black-throated Blue Warblers.

The most affordable way to access Isle Royale National Park is by ferry. There are two places in Michigan where boats leave from—Houghton and Copper Harbor.

Website: nps.gov/isro | Map: Click here
Phone: (906) 482-0984
Hours: Isle Royale National Park opens in the middle of April and closes November 1.
Fees: The park charges visitors $4 per day.
Directions: Click here

 

(M) Third Street Memorial Park ★

Third Street Memorial Park is a small city-owned property that provides birders with a place to search Copper Harbor for waterfowl and other birds. In late April, search the harbor for Hooded Mergansers, Horned Grebes, Common Loons, and other species of waterfowl.

Directions: Click here

 

(N) Clyde's Bird Trails ★★

Clyde’s Bird Trails lie behind Grandpa’s Barn, a small bookstore in Copper Harbor that sells books about local history. The trails are a good place to find sparrows and other grassland birds. Vesper Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows are especially common, and occasionally migrating Harris’ Sparrows make an appearance. There is a small pond nearby, where Common Snipes and Sandhill Cranes can sometimes be heard. Be aware that the trails are on private property.

Directions: Click here

Vesper SparrowVesper Sparrow

 

(O) Westcoat's Field ★★

Westcoat's Field is accessible from a small campground on Manganese Road. The field is a good place to search for migrating sparrows and other specialties. In recent years, birders have reported seeing Townsend’s Solitaires.

Directions: Click here

 

(P) Copper Harbor Sewage Ponds ★

Copper Harbor Sewage Ponds consist of two large ponds which are both surrounded by trees, blocking birders from viewing nearby Lake Superior. During the spring, a visit to the lagoons will provide visitors with a chance to see many kinds of warblers, sparrows, and finches.

Directions: Click here

 

(Q) Lighthouse Overlook Park ★

Located directly across US-41 from Fort Wilkins State Park, Lighthouse Overlook Park is a good place to stop and scan the bay for waterfowl. There are interpretive signs detailing the first shipwrecks on Lake Superior, which happened only a few hundred yards from the lighthouse.

Directions: Click here

Lake SuperiorLake Superior

 

(R) Fort Wilkins Historic State Park ★★

Sandwiched between Lake Fanny Hooe and Copper Harbor, Fort Wilkins Historic State Park is a convenient place for birders to stay while touring the area, featuring modern campgrounds and a restored military outpost. During spring migration, the park’s woodlands can literally be crawling with warblers. The peak time to look for songbirds is in late May and early June. Visitors should watch out for Black Bears, which are common in the area.

Website: goo.gl/bY3YFc | Map: Click here
Phone: (906) 289-4215
Fees: Recreation Passport required ($11 resident, $31.10 non-resident)
Directions: Click here

 

(S) Mary Macdonald Preserve ★★

The most scenic Nature Conservancy site in Michigan, Mary MacDonald Preserve features 1,276 acres of colorful bedrock beaches and rugged boreal forests. During spring migration, Peregrine Falcons can sometimes be spotted soaring overhead. Many species of warblers that nest at the preserve in June.

Website: goo.gl/gwLTbD
Directions: Click here

 

(T) Estivant Pines Sanctuary ★★

Estivant Pines Sanctuary protects the last stand of virgin white pines in the Upper Peninsula. The trees are 120 to 150 feet high—creating a cathedralic atmosphere in the forest. The dense canopy provides nesting habitat for 85 different kinds of birds.

Website: goo.gl/X0GaCZ
Directions: Click here

Estivant PinesEstivant Pines

 

(U) Bete Grise Preserve ★★

Bete Grise Preserve protects a large wetland that stretches from Lac La Belle to Bete Grise Bay. 1,500 acres were added to the preserve after Senator Carl Levin announced a $1.7 million conservation grant intended to “benefit generations to come.”

Showcasing two miles of Lake Superior’s shoreline, Bete Grise Preserve is a wild and undeveloped place, except for a small dirt parking area and a trail which leads to the beach. Black and Surf Scoters can sometimes be sighted offshore.

Website: betegrisepreserve.org
Directions: Click here