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15 Top Spots for Birding and Bird Watching in Michigan (MAP)

couple bird watching in michigan

Go Bird Watching in Michigan

Here’s some good news: birding and bird watching in Michigan is a hobby anyone can enjoy. 

Whether you’re a professional birder, amateur, or just someone who enjoys being outside, there are amazing spots all over the state visited by our fine feathered friends, waiting to be seen. 

Explore the amazing array of birds in Michigan, both native and migratory, by visiting these well-known birding sites and off-the-beaten path locales. 

With more than 450 species of birds to observe, the state has an impressive selection of feathered creatures to enjoy, and we’re sharing recommendations for the best places to spot them. We’re also sharing an interactive map to help you plan your Michigan bird watching trip.  

Discover Michigan’s many birding trails, state parks and recreation areas, state wildlife and game areas, national wildlife refuges, Great Lakes coastline and other birding hotspots. 

If the sights and sounds of Michigan nature are calling to you, now is the time to get out there and catch a glimpse of the birds. 

Go on, become one with nature with this list of the 15 top spots for birding in Michigan. 

Michigan Birding Did You Know? 

What is the Difference Between Birdwatching and Birding? 

The difference between “bird-watching” and “birding” is simple: the former looks at birds while the latter looks for them

kirtlands warbler
Kirtland’s Warbler

Best Places to Go Birding in the the Lower Peninsula

Alpena Partridge Point
1175 N. Partridge Point Road, Alpena, MI 49707

This 53-acre space just south of Alpena is easily one of the top spots for birding in Michigan. 

Bird species such as Black Terns, Marsh Wrens, Sora, Virginia Rails, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers nest in the area, which is lush with land vegetation —including poison ivy, so be careful! With usual light traffic, a curious birder can pull off on the shoulder of the road and set up scopes.

If you are birding in the spring or fall migrations, visit this top spot for birding in Michigan to see birds such as Peregrine falcons, Barred and Short-eared owls, Canada Geese, Blue Jays, Belted Kingfisher, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and so much more.

Au Sable Birding Trail
9091 W. Lake City Road, Roscommon Twp, MI 48629

The next stop on our top spots for birding in Michigan tour is Au Sable Birding Trail. This heavily forested area in the heart of northern Michigan is a haven for many endangered and migratory bird species.

The trail takes you through the woods to the wetlands, where novice and expert birders alike can gaze at the Kirtland’s Warbler nesting and wonder at the famous Bald Eagle.

With 22 hotspots and a comprehensive online map guide, this top spot for birding in Michigan is a must-visit.

Hartwick Pines State Park
3612 State Park Drive, Grayling, MI 49738

Hidden in the forest of northern Michigan’s lower peninsula, Hartwick Pines State Park is easily a top spot for birding in Michigan.

With 7 ½ miles of trails that meander through forests of beech, maple, and oak, bird enthusiasts who visit this top spot for birding in Michigan are serenaded with a cacophony of songs from Blackburnian and Black-throated Green warblers, Evening and Rose-breasted grosbeaks, Red-eyed Vireos, American Goldfinches, and Pine Siskins. 

More than 200 species are available for bird watchers, novice and expert, at Hartwick Pines State Park.

Lake St. Clair Metropark
31300 Metro Parkway, Harrison Twp, MI 48045

Next on our top spots for birding in Michigan is Lake St. Clair Metropark, home to migrating birds who use the park as a haven during their annual migrations.

Canada Goose, Mute Swans, Mourning Doves, White-throated Sparrows, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers are only some of the bird species that birders can watch. The park is open from 6 a.m.-10 p.m. during the week and closes at 11 p.m. on the weekend.

While enjoying the hundreds of species spotted at the metro park, birders can also bike, hike, jog or in-line skate on our paved trail or swim in the marina.

man bird watching in michigan

More Spots for Birdwatching in Michigan

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
975 Mower Road, Saginaw, MI 48601

With 10,000 acres of wildlife refuge, this top spot for birding in Michigan was established in 1953 as an inviolate sanctuary and management space for migratory birds. 

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is a designated Important Bird Area,meaning it’s a place of global significance for migratory waterfowl; of course, it had to make our top spot for birding in Michigan list!

The diverse habitat and frequent flooding bring in birds such as waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, songbirds and raptors. Birders can also get lucky and see wood ducks and bald eagles if they visit during spring and fall migration time.

Sunset Coast Birding Trail
Charlevoix, MI, 49711

Showcasing diverse birds and natural features of Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet counties, Sunset Coast Birding Trail is easily a top spot for birding in Michigan!
Made up of 35 primary sites throughout the trail, this space features birds like mallards, wood ducks, American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teals, Gadwalls, Sedge Wrens, Soras, and Sandhill Cranes.

Birders can visit this area, which attracts a large number of Michigan’s 400+ bird species, and also know they are helping local communities promote economic development and environmental stewardship. Bird locally!

Tawas State Park
86 Tawas Beach Road, East Tawas, MI 48730

Nicknamed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest” (Sorry Massachusetts!) Tawas State Park is situated on the end of a sand spit along Lake Huron.

This top spot for birding in Michigan is a favorite among both novice and expert bird watchers all over the Midwest. Its 183 acres hosts birds such as bald eagles, Trumpeter swans, Piping Plovers and Kirtland Warblers.

Need more proof that this is a top spot for birding in Michigan? Tawas State Park boasts that some birders can routinely find over sixty species of birds in a single day!

Red tailed hawk in Michigan
Red tailed Hawk in Michigan

W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary
12685 East C Avenue , Augusta, MI 49012

Owned by Michigan State University, birders can “go green” in W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary’s conservation-focused public programs, interpretative tours and accessible trails that allow close views of captive and wild birds.

This space has many highlights to make it a top spot for birding in Michigan. Its birds of prey enclosures feature rare and common raptors like bald eagles and red-tailed hawks. The Leslie E. Tassel upland game bird display houses threatened and endangered Michigan bird species. The Pollinator Garden uses native plants to attract hummingbirds, while the ¾ mile trail to Wintergreen Lake gives birds a chance to see hundreds of waterfowl, including Canada Geese.

Talk about a top spot for birding in Michigan! Make sure to book multiple trips to see all the birds this sanctuary has to offer.

Warren Dunes State Park
12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer, MI 49125

Warren Dunes State Park offers a shocking 1952 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline, hiking trails, campgrounds and rugged dune formations that rises 260 feet above the lake.

But what easily makes this space a top spot for birding in Michigan is its significant bird diversity as a stopover location on a bird migration route. Birders can gaze at ring-billed gulls, turkey vultures, mourning doves, wild turkeys, red-breasted mergansers and Lesser Scaups, just to name a few of the 250 species sighted.

Aside from the bird species, this top spot for birding in Michigan is also home to an extensive network of richly forested dunes, large open dunes and interdunal wetlands.

peregrine falcon in michigan
Peregrine Falcon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Best Places for Bird Watching in the Upper Peninsula

Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch
Brockway Mountain Drive, Copper Harbor, MI

This top spot for birding in Michigan is particularly active in spring, from about March 15 to June 15.

The Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch gives a 360-degree view from Lake Superior, putting eager bird watchers almost at eye level with the hawks of the area.

Speaking of hawks: Birders can see diverse species at this top spot for birding in Michigan, including red-shouldered hawks, broad-winged hawks, rough-legged hawks, cooper’s hawks, northern goshawks, and sharp-shinned hawks. Turkey vultures, bald eagles and peregrine falcons also fly around this space.

Hawks at Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch are also migrating in both directions simultaneously, making for an extremely rare birding experience.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
Schoolcraft Township, MI 49913

The Mountain Lodge is located at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, which acts as a natural migratory corridor for many bird species. It’s an amazing spot for bird watching in Michigan.

This variety of habitats and the proximity to Lake Superior’s shoreline make Mountain Lodge a top spot for birding in Michigan. The lodge’s trails include a summer trail, most used by bikers and hikers, and a winter trail, maintained for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Species in the area include House Sparrows, Baltimore oriole, White-winged Crossbill, Turkey Vultures, American Kestrel and Canada Goose, to name a few.

North Huron Birding Trail
Iron Mountain, MI 49801

North Huron Birding Trail is home to meandering trails where birders can catch a glimpse of the numerous American Redstarts, such as Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Black-and-White and Yellow-Rumped Warblers.

On this top spot for birding in Michigan, birders can also potentially see large rafts of migrant diving ducks in the background of the waterfront.

Guide to winter birds in Michigan

More Places to Go Bird Watching in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Presque Isle Park
401 E. Fair Avenue, Marquette, MI 49855

Did you know that one of the top spots for birding in Michigan has had visitors starting with the prehistoric people 3,000 to 7,000 years ago? Presque Isle Park is situated at the end of Lakeshore Boulevard and is considered Marquette’s most beloved attraction.

Bird lovers can enjoy waterfowl migration during March and late November/December, shorebird migration during April and September, and Warbler migration during mid-May and September.

This top spot for birding in Michigan is a nesting spot for more than 339 species of birds. Where else would you go for your bird-watching fill?

Seney National Wildlife Refuge
1986 River Road, Germfask, MI 49836

Looking to slow down while you indulge in some birding? 

Seney National Wildlife Refuge in the eastern portion of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula allows bird watchers to slow down, relax and unwind as they enjoy the beautiful vistas and the local wildlife that populate these forests, wetlands and waters.

This top spot for birding in Michigan is a birder’s paradise, abundant populations of trumpeter swans, common loons, osprey, bald eagles, and hundreds of other bird species nest in this area. Aside from birds, visitors have the chance to spot red fox, deer, bear or porcupine near the refuge.

A wildlife trifecta for those looking to get away.

whitefish point and reat lakes shipwreck museum

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory
16914 N. Whitefish Point Road, Paradise, MI 49768

Eleven miles north of Paradise — you can decide if it’s a city or a feeling — Whitefish Point Bird Observatory rounds up our list of top spots for bird watching in Michigan. 

Jutting out in Lake Superior, this top spot for birding in Michigan is a natural migration corridor, bringing thousands of birds through this flyway every spring and fall. The Point witnesses a huge diversity of birds, and birders can easily spot numerous rare breeding birds — over 340 recorded species.

The Point conducted species counts each migration season. This spring, this top spot for birding in Michigan has had red-necked grebes, northern flickers, common loons, horned larks, red-tailed hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and turkey vultures, to name a few.

More About Birding in Michigan

There you have it: 15 of the top spots for birding in Michigan, from the Upper Peninsula to western Michigan. Use this list of top spots for birding in Michigan to plan your next birding adventure without ever leaving the state, and let us know your favorite spot to see the birds in MIchigan.

15 Top Spots for Birding and Bird Watching in Michigan (MAP)

Michigan bird watching map

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About the Author-

SaMya Overall is a Content Writer at She is a fourth-year graduating senior at Michigan State University. She currently works as Editor-in-Chief of The State News, Michigan State’s award-winning student media company. Prior to becoming EIC, she worked as a campus reporter and copy chief at The State News. She’s passionate about Detroit and its surrounding area, and is a low-key collegiate sports lover on her free time.