The beauty of birding on Drummond Island is that it is a well-defined space, yet the wealth of the northern avian world is apt to be living there. What you don’t find in winter, moves in to breed during the summer. Even more birding possibilities migrate through, both spring and fall.
Settled along the north shore of Lake Huron at the tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Drummond Island offers birds, and the birders who watch them, an unusual wealth of island habitat.
Photo by G. Andrie
The thirteen ecosystems found on Drummond include six forest types, with old-growth found on Harbor Island in Potagannissing Bay, five swamp-marsh types, inland lakes and rivers, and sand dunes. Except for the dunes each wetland, deciduous and evergreen system is large enough to hold a host of associated avian species. When meadows are added to the miles of indented shoresides and creeksides, think of all the edge species to discover! In addition to these ecosystems, you can seek birds along the miles of trails through the vast state forests that grow on the
Photo by G. Andrie
Knobs on your way to the south-shore cliffs of Marblehead and, in the opposite direction, drive out to discover the world-rare alvar mixture of grassland species found on the Maxton Plains.
Photo by G. Andrie
As an ornithologist, Bill Scharf enjoys Drummond Island as part of the St Marys migration corridor. “Here, the migrations are spectacular with large numbers of common loons, red-necked grebes (a great portion of the world population), and many diverse species of waterfowl, raptors and owls. Warbler migrations are especially spectacular on the Island, and several species of conservation concern nest there. American bitterns nest at the marshy lake near Scammon Point, large numbers of black terns nest at Maxton Bay, and common terns frequently nest on shoals near Espanore Island. Ospreys and Bald Eagles nest on several small Islands, and have nested on Drummond recently.
Photo by G. Andrie
After the long flight north, a preoccupation with the local wealth of caterpillars and midges helps make the birds easy to see. Come to Drummond during the summer when the air is full of song and courtship dance as the southern edge of northern species and the northern edge of southern nesters await your discovery all over the Island. Come to Drummond in the fall to travel miles of brilliantly lined roads and trails. Flickers, warblers, thrushes, vireos, sparrows, and flycatchers will be among the birds moving through then.
As we waited for the ferry in September 2008, within ten minutes an eastern blue bird and the myrtle form of the yellow-rumped warbler showed their true colors to our cameras. This tells me that the birds of Drummond need more birders. Interesting plants, numerous butterflies and jewel-winged dragonflies are also ready to catch your eye!
Jody Clark was twelve when she first became a birder.
------------------ Forest Map, Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
PIGEON COVE FLOODING plus PIKE BAY excursion
From the Four Corners go west on M134 (approx 4 miles) to the junction of Pike Bay Road, turn left, proceed about 1 mile and on your right you will see the marshy Pigeon Cove Flooding. Look for deer, birds, and bears in the rushes. The kids will enjoy going through the tunnel, just past the floodings.
If you like to travel through the forest, follow Pike Bay Road (1.1 mile) to the main junction, turn right to Noble’s Road (1.1 mile)’s- back track to the main junction, turn right on Pike Bay Road (.4 miles)-back track to main junction, turn right onto Cream City Point Road (2.4 miles) to the causeway- all of this is paved and hardly a house to see.
At the causeway, go forward to Gravel Lake (2.1 miles) on the hard packed gravel road.- then back track. A main point to remember, on all of the named roads you will have to back track. Pick up a detailed map at the Visitor Center at the Four Corners. There are many birds including Great Horned Owls in the area, plus you get glimpses of Lake Huron. This is a great area to visit just before dusk searching for the elusive bear.
If you like to bike, park you car on the inland side of the road at the junction of M134 and Pike Bay Road. Riding only the paved roads mentioned you will travel 10 miles, add the unpaved road and you get another 4.2 miles. By car or bike this is a round trip of 14.2 miles. For the bikers the traffic is minimal and you’re going through your own private wilderness.
Kayakers drive across the causeway, turn right, park and launch from here. There is approx. 3 square miles you can paddle among the many islands without getting out into the big waters of Lake Huron. Read the winds and paddle cautiously.
Strickland Point Osprey Nest
Turn Left onto Strickland Point Road from M-134 follow it till you come to the causeway to Strickland Island. To the left as you enter on to the causeway you will see at the waters edge a (nest) Platform. Spring through late summer the Osprey are there. Please do not disturb them and stay on the causeway. Great place for pictures!
Photo by D. Borth
For those who have never seen our national bird, the adult Bald Eagle is chunky and brown with feathered legs, is almost twice as large as a hawk. It also looks majestic with its white head and tail and yellow legs. Haliaeetus leucocephalus is often seen against the sky, soaring on broad wings held so flat and squared at the tips they look like planks. With some buffy-gold on its breast, the juvenile can be mistaken for a Golden Eagle, which has buffy-gold on its head and behind the legs near the tail but not the breast.
Golden Eagles have been seen many times on Drummond Island.