As waves of songbirds wash over Northern Michigan backyards, woods, and fields, eager birders are settling in and enjoying the show.
Just in time, several organizations have built new birding trails and are hosting events planned to take advantage of peak viewing season.
The Petoskey Regional Audubon Society (PRAS) is hosting weekly gatherings throughout the month to focus on sparrow identification.
PRAS President Darrell Lawson says the events have gone well in spite of poor weather, with participants identifying 36 species during one recent gathering.
“May is a great month for birding simply because it is the month when the most spring migrants return to or pass through the area,” he said. “In spring, they tend to be in their fresh breeding plumage, which, in many species, can be quite stunning.”
PRAS is also hosting early morning walks on Tuesdays and Thursdays in May; more upcoming events are posted on the group’s Facebook page and at petoskeyaudubon.org.
BEAVER ISLAND BIRDING TRAIL
The new and highly anticipated Beaver Island Birding Trail will be dedicated May 23-25. As the largest island in Lake Michigan, Beaver Island provides birders the opportunity to view a large variety of bird types, especially during the migratory season.
Encompassing more than 12,000 acres of land, the Beaver Island Birding Trail includes 35 specific sites along with a trail checklist. White trail signs at each site indicate car viewing sites; orange signs signal birders to get out and explore various trails.
The dedication weekend is packed with speakers, events, fieldtrips, and an art show. All events are free and open to the public but many of the field trips and seminars require registration. Registration and more are at beaverislandbirdingtrail.org.
LEELANAU PENINSULA BIRDING FESTIVAL
Another anticipated event this month is the fourth annual Leelanau Peninsula Birding Festival, May 28-June 1 in Lake Leelanau. Hosted by the Leelanau Chamber of Commerce, the festival includes a field trip to observe the golden-winged warbler and the rare Kirtland’s warbler.
Festival attendees can also take a tall ship trip to the Gull Island Preserve, just west of Beaver Island. Gull Island is closed to the public but many nesting sites and birds will be viewable from the ship. Potential sightings include Caspian terns and blue-winged teals. A birding workshop for beginners is also available during the weekend. Advanced registration is required for all events during the Leelanau Peninsula Birding Festival.
For more, visit mibirdfest.com or call the Leelanau Chamber of Commerce at (231) 994-2202.