Great Lakes Birding Hotspots in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana

Want to see birds in Michigan, Ohio or Indiana? Make a trip to any of these birding hotspots along the shores of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes are a big barrier to migrant birds as they head north. They must decide if they are going to fly over the huge lakes or if going around them would be a better idea. This leads to many migrants gathering on the shores of the Great Lakes. Visit these five migration hotspots to see birds in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

1. Ohio Birds: Magee Marsh

If you want to see birds in Ohio, this is where you should start. Magee Marsh along the shores of Lake Erie has become known as the “Warbler Capital of the World” and hosts the largest birding festival in the U.S. every May. One visit and you’ll see why so many birders love coming to Magee Marsh each spring! Warblers and other migrants are literally everywhere in this region. While birding at Magee Marsh, don’t forget to check out other awesome Ohio birding sites like Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Oak Openings Metropark, and the Pipe Creek Wildlife area. Check out the top warbler hotspots to visit in spring.

Top 5 Great Lakes Birding Hotspots for Spring MigrationRob Ripma
Bay-breasted warblers are one of the many migrating birds to look for in Ohio.

2. Indiana Birds: Indiana Dunes National Park

Birds gather here at Indiana Dunes on the shore of Lake Michigan before continuing on their way north to their breeding grounds in the northern U.S. and Canada. Each spring, a bird count is conducted along the lakeshore in order to track how many birds are passing by. There are also plenty of great Indiana birding locations close to the Dunes, such as Beverly Shores, Kankakee Sands, and Miller Beach. Discover more birding hotspots in lesser-known national parks.

Top 5 Great Lakes Birding Hotspots for Spring MigrationRob Ripma
The Chestnut-sided warbler is a common migrant in the Indiana Dunes area.

3. Michigan Birds: Tawas Point State Park

Tawas Point offers some of the best birding on Lake Huron. This Michigan birding hotspot attracts many songbirds during spring migration. After enjoying the migrants, you won’t be far from a stop to see breeding Kirtland’s warblers near the city of Mio. Get warbler migration tips for every type of birder.

michigan birdsCourtesy Catherine Forrest
Cape May warbler at Tawas Point State Park in Michigan

4. Michigan Birds: Whitefish Point

Another great spot to see Michigan birds is Whitefish Point. This is a well-known location for the incredible number of waterbirds that migrate past the point that sticks out into Lake Superior. Thousands of ducks, loons, grebes, geese, and shorebirds migrate past the point each spring and fall. In addition to these species, many songbirds also can be seen around Whitefish Point.

5. Point Pelee, Ontario, Canada

Across Lake Erie from Magee Marsh in Ohio sits the world famous Point Pelee. As migrants cross over the lake, this point is one of the first pieces of land that they see, and many of them stop here to feed. During the spring, you can spend a day birding at Magee Marsh and then take the JetExpress ferry across Lake Erie to bird in Canada! Check out 4 reasons nature lovers should visit Point Pelee National Park.

Next, explore Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Rob Ripma
Rob is a lifelong Indiana resident and co-owner of Sabrewing Nature Tours. He has birded extensively throughout the Americas and also spent time birding in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Rob is currently on the executive boards of two organizations: Past President of the Board of the Amos Butler Audubon Society in Indianapolis (after leading the board as President for 6 years) and Secretary for Ohio’s Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO). He also serves as the field trip coordinator for BSBO’s Biggest Week in American Birding annual event. Rob sat on the executive board of the Indiana Audubon Society for three years as Treasurer and Vice President. He is a co-founder of the Indiana Young Birders Club and speaks at a variety of organizations and schools about birds and birding to share his knowledge and experiences in the field. His leadership and expertise led to Rob working as the primary bird blogger for Birds & Blooms Magazine from 2013-2017. Rob enjoys working with both new and experienced birders of all ages and believes that teaching people about birds will not only increase interest in birding but also help them better understand why we must work to protect them and their habitats. Additionally, he loves educating others about the positive impact nature tourism can have on local economies, especially in developing countries. This passion led to his involvement in the production of a PBS television program called, “Flight Path: The World of Migratory Birds”, where a crew accompanied him on a tour to Panama to highlight and bring to life the effect that birds and birding have on both the people that see them and those who work and live in areas visited by birders and nature lovers. Rob graduated from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2008 and lives in Carmel, Indiana with his wife and daughter.