Birds of the Upper Peninsula

There are some truly unique and amazing things to see on your trip to Munising, MI for Paddling Michigan – and not just in the water. When you are in your kayak looking across the Great Lake, take some time to look up. The Upper Peninsula is a mecca for many birding enthusiasts. Even if you don’t have your binoculars packed, you can still see some of these amazing creatures, including our national emblem, the Bald Eagle – if you know what you are looking for. Here are some birds you may see while gliding through the water.

The Gray Jay

These guys often follow hikers around as they traverse the many trails that populate the UP since they like spruce and fir trees. They are quite fluffy and may seem fearless because of how close they come to people.

Spruce Grouse

This large pigeon stands between 15-17 inches high, but you may have to be far into the woods to catch a glimpse. You are lucky if you do get to see one of these rare birds, which are on the list for special concern of extinction.

Yellow Rail

Another bird that doesn’t get seen very often is the Yellow Rail. Though you may not see them, you are likely to hear them, especially if you take a hike through the woods. They have a distinctive rhythmic ticking that sounds something like a typewriter.

Black-backed Woodpecker

These woodpeckers will likely be easier to spot than other birds on this list, especially the males, who have a gold-crown on top of their heads that contrasts with their solid black back. Both males and females like to hang around recently burned areas of the forests (which is often burned to protect the area.)

Boreal Owl

These majestic birds feed on small animals like voles, chipmunks, mice, and squirrels – all of which are in abundance in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If there is an artificial box in the trees where you are camping or sight-seeing, they sometimes use them to make nests. You have to stay up pretty late, however, as these animals are nocturnal.

Olive-sided Flycatcher

These beautiful birds have dark olive faces, flanks, and upperparts. Their underparts are lighter, but their bill is dark. You can identify them by their rapid pip pip pip call.

Common Loons

We may call them the common loon, but there’s nothing common about these water birds. In fact, scientists trace their genetic roots to over 100 million years ago. This species only breeds in the Upper Peninsula or the very north part of the Lower Peninsula. They begin to show themselves as soon as the ice melts, but they start to breed soon after and get much more shy. Their wail is mournful and haunting.

Did you see one of these rare, or even not so rare, birds on your Paddling Michigan trip? Show us an image on our Facebook page! There’s more to Munising than you can see in a picture, though, so come try one of our kayaking adventures. Whether you are a seasoned kayaker or new to the water, our adventures are a fit for all skill levels.