Every season offers superb bird watching opportunities
The boreal forests, mixed woodlands, wetlands, inland lakes and Lake Superior make bird watching here a year round activity. 334 species have been officially documented living in or visiting the area.
If you step outside in Copper Harbor, you’re birding. There is not a bad bird watching spot as you can catch some species or another just about everywhere. However, there are some great trails which offer a variety of features making several habitats accessible (and convenient). All the summer trails are not accessible in winter. However, a good way to do some birding is on the cross-country trails and on snowshoes.
Copper Harbor’s more common ‘year round’ residents include:
American Black Duck, Ruffed Grouse, Bald Eagle, Ruffed Grouse, Herring Gull, Barred and Great Horned Owl, Pileated, Hairy and Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch and American Goldfinch.
Spring & Summer
The Keweenaw Peninsula is a migrating bird magnet and most of the activity winds up in Copper Harbor! It is an amazing place for watching birds all year long and hundreds of species will delight birders of all ages. Brockway Mountain is home to a spectacular spring migration with a massive raptor movement. Read More About Our Spectacular Spring Migration
Many migratory birds stay and nest here. A few of our more common summer residents that are easy to find (or at least hear) include:
Common Loon, Turkey Vulture, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, American Woodcock, Long-eared Owl, Common Nighthawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Alder Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, Boreal Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Eastern Bluebird, Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Northern Parula, and other warblers such as Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Bay-breasted, Pine, Palm and Blackburnian, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Savannah Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Indigo Bunting, Bobolink and Purple Finch.
Fall & Winter
The fall migration brings the birds from their summer homes as far north as the arctic. Warblers and sparrows do come through, but not as heavy as spring. Horned Lark, American Pipit, Lapland Longspur and Rusty Blackbird arrive in large flocks. Snow Bunting always come through and are a sure sign that winter is just around the corner.
Winter birding in the area during winter can also be very exciting and rewarding. Winter migrants and irruptive species that “fly south” of their regular territory and spend some time here include Glaucous Gull, Snowy Owl, Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing, American Tree Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Pine Grosbeak, Red and White-winged Crossbill, Common and Hoary Redpoll and Pine Siskin are always a possibility.
The harbor does not always freeze and there is open water much of the time. A variety of water foul enjoy the quiet waters including Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Pied-billed Grebe, Lesser and Greater Scaup are common visitors. In the past years sea ducks such as Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck and Common Eider have been observed. Horned and Western Grebe have been sighted over many years now. Bald Eagle will also stick around if there is open water. Rough-legged Hawk is one of the few raptors that visit in winter. Sharp-shinned Hawk and Northern Shrike may be seen stalking area bird feeders.
Every season brings changes to the weather and the bird life. Please click on the links at right for PDF versions of bird lists and bird trails.