Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, a program of Michigan Audubon - the header image

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory

Documenting the distribution and abundance of birds in the Great Lakes region.


Witnessing migration at the Point is a real gift that can deepen our sense of joy and awe for the extraordinary number of migratory birds that pass through and utilize this special place as a habitat that supports their journey.
Heather Good  -  Michigan Audubon Executive Director
Throngs of birds of prey, waterbirds, and songbirds migrate through each spring and fall. It’s such an incredible location and has so much to offer, bird-related and otherwise.
Ted Keyel  -  2016 Hawk Counter
WPBO has one of the longest running sets of avian monitoring data in the Great Lakes. Our summer owl banding program is unique in the world; others have tried to find a place where numbers of owls can be monitored in summer and no one else has found such an area.
Rich Keith  -  Director, Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory, and WPBO Volunteer
More rare birds in Michigan have shown up at Whitefish Point than any other spot in the state. There is always the possibility of seeing something rare and new when visiting the Point.
John Baumgartner  -  Michigan Audubon Board Member and WPBO Volunteer


About the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) is the premier migration hot-spot in Michigan. The Observatory is located at Whitefish Point, 11 miles north of Paradise, Michigan. The Point itself juts out in Lake Superior and acts as a natural migration corridor that brings thousands of birds through this migratory flyway every Spring and Fall. With its wooded dune and swale complex, distinctive to the Great Lakes region, Whitefish Point sees a great diversity of migrants and is home to rare breeding birds, and has been designated as an Important Bird Area. Over 340 bird species have been spotted here, and the research conducted at WPBO, including regular migration counts and owl banding, contribute to an ongoing effort to increase knowledge of bird migration, to encourage public awareness of birds and the environment, and to further bird conservation.


The research at WPBO has been conducted for over thirty years and includes seasonal migration counts of waterbirds and raptors. The professional counters hired at WPBO log tens of thousands of migrating birds each season, making it one of the most important spots for documenting migration in the upper Great Lakes. The hawk deck is accessible to the public year-round, and the waterbird count site is accessible to the public during count seasons. WPBO also has conducted an owl banding project since 1988 and currently banding runs during three seasons: Spring, Summer, and Fall. Visit the Research page to see more. 

You can also follow updates from WPBO’s research efforts on our blog. Click on the pictures below to visit the different blog categories, or learn more by visiting the Blogs page.

Image shows a Piping Plover chick standing on a pebble strewn beach. Image has the words "Recent Sightings" in white text.
Image shows a far away photo of migrating Mergansers and Scaup ducks across a clear blue sky at the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. Image has the text "Migration Counts" in white letters in the top left hand corner. Photo copyright Chris Neri.
Image shows a closeup of a Great Grey Owl looking directly at the camera. Image has the text "Owl Banding" in white letters. Photo is copyright Skye Haas.

Image shows a Northern Saw-whet Owl perching in daylight on a large piece of driftwood on the beach at Whitefish Point. Photo is copyright Chris Neri.


WPBO has been called the crown jewel of birding destinations in Michigan. During the last weekend in April, don’t miss WPBO’s annual celebration of migration, Spring Fling. You can expect excellent birding alongside topnotch programs and bird walks. WPBO also hosts the Birding Michigan Field Trip Series, which offers birders of all skill levels the opportunity to spend time in the field with experienced leaders in some of Michigan’s best birding “hot spots,” while at the same time supporting the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory’s research and education programs. Visit the Events page to learn more.



Image shows multiple people standing on a wide wooden deck on a bright sunny day, all are looking up through cameras and binoculars at passing birds. Photo © Skye Haas.


WPBO welcomes visitors! Whitefish Point is a premier site for observing migrating raptors, waterbirds, and songbirds, and rare species like Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker and Piping Plover can be found here. It is right in the middle of a migratory bird flyway, making it a premier site for observing migrating raptors, waterbirds and songbirds. If you’re planning a visit, be sure to check out the Visit page.




Image shows a Black-backed Woodpecker perching upside-down on a broken tree branch. Photo © Skye Haas.Support

WPBO is owned by Michigan Audubon, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting birds and people for the benefit of both through conservation, education, and research efforts in the state of Michigan. The Observatory depends on your support to help fund the migration counts, owl bandings, and avian research. Learn how you can support WPBO and Michigan Audubon below.



Sponsor the Birdathon

The Birdathon is an event where WPBO staff and volunteers go out to count as many birds as possible during a certain number of hours. You can pledge to donate per event, or per species. Click for more information.

Learn more

Adopt an Owl

Want to personalize your donation? Symbolically adopt an owl to receive a personalized photo of a recently banded owl at WPBO and support the owl banding at the Point. Click to learn more about donation levels and species available for adoption.

Learn More


WPBO depends on your support to help fund the bird counts, owl bandings, and avian research. Donate to Michigan Audubon to support WPBO today. Just mention WPBO in your donation description.

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