Whitefish Point, Michigan


WhitefishPointLightStation-250x188Whitefish Point is located on M-123, approximately 8 miles north of Paradise, in Chippewa County.  Founded about 1871 as a supply landing for lumber camps and as a commercial fishery.  Sylvester P. Mason became its first postmaster on September 24, 1877.


Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum & Whitefish Point Light Station, 18335 North Whitefish Point Road, Paradise, MI 49768, Phone: (906) 492-3747.

Whitefish Point Bird Observatory, 16914 North Whitefish Point Road, Paradise, MI 49768, Phone: (906) 492-3596. Whitefish Point is a phenomenal concentration point for migrating birds. During spring and fall it is one of the best birding sites in Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Spring migration begins in mid-March and peaks in mid-May. During this time, up to 25,000 raptors pass by the Point–as many as 3,000 in a single day! Sharp-shinned, broad-winged, and red-tailed hawks are most common. Whitefish Point is also one of the best sites in the country for springtime owl viewing. Watch for boreal, great gray, great-horned, short-eared, and long-eared owls. The warmer days of May bring huge concentrations of small birds such as warblers, blue jays, grosbeaks, plus many species of shorebirds and waterfowl. Red-throated and common loons, scoters, and whimbrels are commonly seen. After about six weeks of little activity in June and July, the fall migration begins in early August. For sheer numbers of birds, the fall is unrivaled as huge flights of waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds push southward ahead of the freezing weather. The fall migration generally brings 50,000 to 100,000 water birds, with single day counts often reaching several thousand loons, grebes, geese, and ducks. In 1991, there were 10,000 red-necked grebes alone! A few other interesting species seen here are the boreal chickadee, spruce grouse, and bald and golden eagles. If the weather holds, viewing often remains good until mid-November. Birds are much less abundant in the winter, but the chances of finding northern species are relatively good. Regular winter visitors include the Bohemian waxwing, pine grosbeak, white-winged crossbill, and redpolls. Gyrfalcon, great gray owl, northern hawk owl, snowy owl, and gray jay are also found here although they are more often found in the Sault Ste. Marie area. This site has a boardwalk and series of steps crossing and climbing the dunes up to a hawk-viewing platform. There is also a large, upper beach-level observation deck adjacent to the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and lighthouse, which offers access to the beach. This deck is handicap accessible and another good spot for watching birds. No camping is available on site, but two state forest campgrounds, Shelldrake and Andrus, are located six miles south. In addition, Tahquamenon Falls State Park’s East Entrance Campground is located 14 miles south. Whitefish Point, being a small piece of land protruding into a huge body of water, can have much different weather than the rest of the eastern Upper Peninsula. Temperatures are usually at least 10 degrees colder, and fog conditions are much more common here than just a few miles inland. Check the weather forecast before you come. It is best to come prepared for adverse weather, pack multiple layers of clothing, and bring along rain gear. Bug spray will be helpful in warmer months. It is helpful to check the daily bird lists posted on the Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO) Web site and at the outside bulletin board at the Interpretive Center before going out each day. WPBO is a non-profit, membership-supported organization, and an affiliate of the Michigan Audubon Society. Its focus is research to document and study migratory bird populations and habitats in the Great Lakes region. WPBO has a nature-oriented gift shop at their research lab. The gift shop is open mid-April to mid-October, seven days a week from late June through September. The gift shop sells a few items through their on-line store found on their Web site. Research staff is on hand spring and fall. During these seasons and primarily on weekends, staff offers many free bird tours, bird banding demonstrations, and owl flight presentations. Whitefish Point Bird Observatory’s biggest birding event is their "Spring Fling," usually the last weekend in April. Check out their Web site for dates and details on special programs. There are many places to bird in the vicinity of the Point and staff at the gift shop have maps for, and enjoy directing birders to, these areas. Two favorites include "The Owl Road" 1 mile south of the parking lot, and the Whitefish Point Harbor of Refuge (good for gulls) 0.7 miles south of the Point.

Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve, Michigan Underwater Preserve Council, 560 N. State Street, St. Ignace, MI 4978, Phone: (800) 338-6660.

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