Although Pere Marquette State Park is best known for winter eagle watching, its woodlands and other habitats offer opportunities to find birds any time of the year. I most love bundling up for a cold-weather hike, when bare trees make it easy to spot Red-headed Woodpeckers and ubiquitous Northern Cardinals. Sunny winter days are also the ideal time to sit along the harbor, where American White Pelicans feast and a Great Blue Heron once came close to sharing a bench with me.
Bald Eagles often stop traffic along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway (Hwy. 100), and I’ve seen a flock of Wild Turkeys crossing the road, so plenty of birding can be done from the comfort of a car. Warblers, thrushes, and other migrants pour through in spring and fall. A good spot to see them is along the Ravine Trail near the visitor center.
Visitors at the annual hummingbird festival can watch banders weigh and measure tiny Ruby-throats. Plus, guided moonlight hikes let you hear Eastern Screech-Owls and Barred and Great Horned Owls before ending the night at one of the park’s campsites or cabins. — Charlene Oldham
Charlene Oldham is a teacher and journalist. She has written about birds for Backpacker Magazine, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and other publications.