The majestic forests and beautiful parks in the Petoskey Area make it home to incredible birding.

Whether it is a pair of federally endangered Piping Plovers, or the many warblers and waterfowl that pass through the area on their way to and from their breeding grounds, the Petoskey Area offers exciting birding opportunities. Local parks, nature preserves, and natural areas make prime birding locations easily accessible and highlight local conservation efforts.

Sunset Coast Birding Trail

The Sunset Coast Birding Trail combines a wide variety of protected areas and habitats that attract Michigan’s over 400 bird species.

The trail features 30+ primary sites hosting a variety or certain species of birds. It provides information about birding in this region and highlights their sites that provide birding opportunities. Printed maps are available at local chambers of commerce.  A more extensive list of locations and bird species can be found here.

Little Traverse Conservancy Nature Preserves

The Conservancy balances the public uses offered on our preserves with protection of their natural integrity and scenic beauty. Recreational, educational, and scientific use of the preserves is encouraged. We welcome you to explore and enjoy their beautiful preserves, keeping in mind that you are a temporary visitor to the homes of many plants and animals.

Other Areas for Birdwatching

Come experience one of Petoskey’s best kept secrets, the Bear River Valley Recreation Area. It features steep bluffs, unpaved trails, concrete path, boardwalks, whitewater rapids, and forest areas all in the heart of Petoskey. Birdwatching here is convenient and rewarding.

The Michigan Fisheries Visitor Center, (often referred to as the Oden Fish Hatchery) offers self-guided hiking/nature trails. Birders will love it here in the summer and may even see an osprey or bald eagle.  

The Natural Area at North Central Michigan College is close to downtown Petoskey, yet feels like you’ve gone far away.  Hike the trails and bring your binoculars and camera for some excellent birding. An overlook allows you to watch the ducks in the pond or just reflect on the day.

Birding events

For migration maps and events on birding, please visit the Petoskey Audubon Facebook page.

Coming Soon: The Migizi Aviary

Wings of Wonder and the Little Traverse Bay Bands (LTBB) of Odawa Indians are partnering to build the first Tribal Eagle Aviary and Rehabilitation Center east of the Mississippi river. It will be located on LTBB land north of Harbor Springs. The goal is to start construction this year, but it’s entirely dependent on fundraising. Donations can be made at

Take Off Now

Now is a great time to come to the Petoskey Area for some birding. Grab your binoculars, a comfortable pair of shoes and head out on the trails. You’re sure to see some old favorites as well as discover some new species. Afterward, relax in a hotel, inn or condo that’s just right for you. Happy birding!

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About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all of the communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. She strives to create informative content that gives potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.