Located within Hiawatha National Forest, the "High Island of Michigan" is an important migration stopover for birds traveling up the Lake Michigan shore.
By Demetri Lafkas | Published: 4/20/2012
This old lighthouse station in Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is an important migration stopover for birds traveling up the Lake Michigan shore.
Peninsula Point (“PP” to local birdwatchers) is exceptional during spring migration. Birders I know have compared it to Ontario’s Point Pelee, while others have called it the “High Island of Michigan” because it’s not unusual to witness a fallout. When storms come out of the north or west, birds crossing the lake from Wisconsin are forced to land at the point, sometimes in staggering numbers.
The peninsula is home to mudflats, forest, and beach, all of which attract a wide variety of birds. Also, an old fountain known as “the drip” provides birds water. It offers great opportunities to observe or photograph birds. During migration, anything is possible; one of the strangest sightings I’ve had was a Sora perched up in a white cedar!
And be sure to visit in late summer and early fall, when thousands of monarch butterflies stop over to refuel during their long trip to Mexico. In the evenings, they often roost in the point’s cedar trees. — Demetri Lafkas
Demetri Lafkas is a biology student at Northern Michigan University and an avid birder. He wrote about Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, Hotspot Near You No. 74, in October 2009.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Fresh water, beach, mudflats, cedar and birch woodlands, dense shrub, grassy area.
Flat dirt path and dirt road leading to the point. Flat grassy area at the tip. Rocky shoreline. Not wheelchair-accessible. Birds may be observed in car from parking area or on road.
More than 200 species. Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Ruffed Grouse, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin, Sandhill Crane, Spotted and Least Sandpipers, Dunlin, Common Tern, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Blue-headed Vireo, Common Raven, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House and Winter Wrens, Brown Thrasher, Golden-crowned Kinglet, White-throated and Song Sparrows, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, and Pine Siskin. During migration, songbirds plentiful, including more than two dozen warbler species. Recent rarities include Western Tanager, Gyrfalcon, Lark Sparrow, and Hooded Warbler.
When to go
May and September best, especially mornings. August and September for monarch migration.
Seasonal outhouses, closed in winter. Picnic areas with tables and grills. Nearest food and drink available at a small grocery about 16 miles north of point.
National forest. Open daily. No fees. Free parking. Last mile of the road to the point is seasonal and is not plowed in winter.
Best places to watch birds are the water drip, a small area of blown-down trees on the main trail, the dense growth along the road, the trees in the picnic area, from atop the lighthouse, and, for waterfowl and shorebirds, at the southernmost tip of the point. Ticks present in spring and early summer, so dress accordingly.
For more info
South of Escanaba on Hwy. 35. A great place for waders, rails, dabbling ducks, and Clay-colored and Swamp Sparrows.
Take Hwy. 2 about 10 miles east, then turn right on County Rd. Ee25. Follow it to the lake. Dowitchers, sandpipers, yellowlegs, golden-plovers, and turnstones in fall.