Whitefish Point provides a phenomenal concentration spot for migrant birds. Here, land and water features create a natural migration corridor. Tens of thousands of birds are funneled to the Point every Spring and Fall while migrating through the Great Lakes region. For over 30 years, Whitefish Point Bird Observatory has been monitoring and documenting these annual migrations. Our mission is to document the distribution and abundance of birds in the Great Lakes Region, with special emphasis on migration.
Our brief Searching for Spruce Grouse tour has just one goal: find and get good looks at one or more Spruce Grouse. This is a post-Spring Fling event, happening this year on April 27th. We met in the parking area behind the Paradise Inn, where two things happened. First, a cooperative Merlin flew in and perched high in a tree to the north, allowing us to get good scope views. Second, we were tipped off to the presence of two female Spruce Grouse along the edge of M-123 just west of town. We quickly headed that way.
Our pre-Spring Fling tour April 25th began with two feet of snow on the ground in most areas around Paradise, a Lake Superior that was mostly frozen, and a forecast that was predicted to be very windy with rain off and on throughout the day. There was a notable lack of migration prior to this point in the season and we would need a bit of luck to be able to have a decent day of birding. Fortunately, we did and that began with a day that was not nearly as windy as the 18 mph forecast and a lack of rain throughout the day.
This April 25-27 marks the 26th annual WPBO Spring Fling, when members and their guests “migrate” to Paradise, Michigan and the Whitefish Point area to visit with old friends, both human and avian. Many activities have been planned for another refreshing weekend of birding experiences.
Our banquet speaker this year is Kevin Karlson, well-known bird photographer and author. Kevin's topic will be Birds on the Wind: The Miracle of Migration.
There's no way to sugar-coat it: the birding was slow. Very good cone and fruit crops in Canada this past summer have many of the species that would have moved south for the winter still on their breeding grounds. And the very cold and snowy winter has pushed many of the hawks and owls even further south, to the lower peninsula of Michigan and beyond.