Bird watching is an activity that can be enjoyed all year in Copper Harbor and with hundreds of species visiting, it will not disappoint. The species change with the seasons creating interest all year long.
Some of Copper Harbor’s more common year round residents include American Black Duck, 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.
The Keweenaw Peninsula is a migrating bird magnet and much of the activity winds up in Copper Harbor! Brockway Mountain is home to a spectacular spring migration with a massive raptor movement.
Spring brings an incredible diversity and numbers of migrating birds. We are fortunate that many stay and nest here too! A few of our more common summer residents include Common Loon, Turkey Vulture, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk, Merlin, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, American Woodcock, Common Nighthawk, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Alder Flycatcher, Eastern Wood Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, 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. If you try a little harder you may find Northern Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Long-eared Owl, Boreal Chickadee, Black-backed Woodpacker and Three-toed Woodpecker.
Fall migration brings birds from their summer homes, some as far north as the arctic. Warblers and sparrows do visit in early fall. 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.
Birding in the area during winter can also be very exciting and rewarding. In addition to the year round residents, our area is host to winter migrants and irruptive species that “fly south” of their regular territory. 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. Bald Eagle will 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 might be seen stalking area bird feeders. When the harbor has open water, a variety of water fowl abound. 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.
The Keweenaw Peninsula is a migrating bird magnet and most of the activity winds up in Copper Harbor! Brockway Mountain also known as “hawk highway” is home to spectacular spring raptor migrations. An official hawk count, the Brockway Mountain Hawk Watch is conducted from March 15th to June 15th each spring. Clearly this is an amazing spot to watch raptors, sometimes at eye level! 18 North American raptors have been sighted during their migration on Brockway.
The annual Keweenaw’s Migratory Bird Festival runs throughout the migration in Copper Harbor offering great birding, presentations, bird walks and more.
Hunter’s Point is a last stop for migrating birds before crossing Lake Superior. Passerines by the thousands “line up” at the point and take flight in the early hours to make the trek across Lake Superior. The harbor itself gives many water birds a resting spot along Lake Superior. Many small inland lakes full of fish and vegetation are re-fueling stations too.
The Biking/Hiking trail just past town goes all the way to Fort Wilkins and is alive with migrating passerines. Spring of 2001, 23 species of warblers were identified in 1 day! There are too many spring migrants to list! Our topography lends to our amazing spring migration, but we get a decent fall migration too. some regular visitors are Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, Dark-eyed Junco, Horned Lark, Bohemian and Cedar Waxwing, American Pipit, Rusty Blackbird and Cackling Goose. And for sparrow, we see just about all of them!
The whole town of Copper Harbor is a birdwatching mecca. There are several habitats within a small space which makes it possible to view numerous species in one outing.
Clyde’s field and ponds
Fort Wilkins State Park