This 2.5-mile-long peninsula at the western tip of Lake Superior is where to go in fall to see Pomarine, Parasitic, and Long-tailed Jaegers, as well as longspurs, pipits, and Arctic Tern.
By Steve Betchkal | Published: 8/26/2011
It’s impossible to have a bad time at Wisconsin Point during Jaegerfest.
No, Jaegerfest is not a celebration of Jägermeister, the Nyquil-flavored green alcoholic beverage, but a birdwatching weekend sponsored by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. It falls on the third or fourth weekend of September, and it features a bird list that will make you want to party.
Arctic Tern. Harris’s Sparrow. Lapland Longspur. American Pipit. Black-bellied Plover. Sabine’s Gull. Red-throated Loon. All three scoters. And all three jaegers. The only jaeger I’ve missed is Long-tailed, but that’s because I failed to show up, not the jaeger.
You’ll find parking pullouts every few hundred yards that allow access to the beach. Across the road is Allouez Bay, which is often loaded with waterfowl and Rusty Blackbirds. In September, the woods are crawling with migrant warblers, vireos, and sparrows, and the raptors trying to cross the lake from Hawk Ridge often wander by. Sure, sometimes the weather hits you like a bad hangover, but that’s part of the formula; the birds are better when the weather is worse. — Steve Betchkal
Steve Betchkal is the author of All of This and Robins Too: A Guide to the 50 or So Best Places to Find Birds in Wisconsin. He also wrote about Governor Dodge State Park, Dodgeville, Wisconsin, Hotspot Near You No. 94, and Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, New Mexico, No. 119.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Beach dunes, coniferous forest, grasslands, wetlands, lake, and bay.
Flat. Sandy beach, paved road.
Fall: Surf, Black, and White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Duck, Red-necked and Eared Grebes, Glaucous Gull, variety of hawks, shorebirds, and passerine migrants. Spring and summer: American White Pelican, Common Loon, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Caspian Tern, Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Common Raven, Rusty Blackbird. Target species: Pacific Loon, Sabine’s and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Arctic Tern, Pomarine, Parasitic, and Long-tailed Jaegers, Whimbrel, Red Knot, American Pipit, Harris’s Sparrow, Lapland Longspur.
When to go
September and October for fall migration. Late May for spring migrants.
Jaegerfest, a three-day field trip organized by the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, is held annually in September. No public restrooms on Wisconsin Point; nearest are in Superior or behind a big hemlock. Public camping available within easy driving distance.
City park. Free. Since the road is narrow, park only in lots or pullouts.
The best time to bird the point is during Jaegerfest. The dozens of birders present will assist you in finding the many and often surprising species that turn up. Hotels in Superior book quickly in fall, so make your reservations early or get a campsite at one of the beautiful state parks nearby.
For more info
Just south of Wisconsin Point off Moccasin Mike Rd. The dump can be great for a variety of gulls in winter — like Iceland — and for an easy look at ravens.
3980 East Skyline Pkwy., Duluth.
World-class hawkwatching site. Best when the wind has been driving out of the northwest for a few days.