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Whitefish Point Unit

Piping Plovers

The Great Lakes population of piping plovers is currently listed as an endangered species. Several pairs of plovers have successfully nested at Whitefish Point for the past few years.

 

The Whitefish Point Unit of Seney National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1998 with the transfer of 33 acres from the United State Coast Guard. An additional 20 acres, which included 1,000 feet of shoreline was acquired in 2012. The purchase of the additional acres was made possible by a number of private donations

The Whitefish Point Unit is nearly 80 miles away from Seney NWR and is a stop-over for birds migrating to and from Canada.  The Whitefish Point region is renowned for its concentrations of birds during migration.  Each year thousands of raptors, passerines (perching birds) and water birds funnel through the point to cross Lake Superior.  The unit's primary natural features are gravel beaches, sandy beach dunes and stunted jack pine-dominated forest.

The Whitefish Point Bird Observatory was established by the Michigan Audubon Society in 1997 to document and study migratory birds and their habitats in the Great Lakes.  The data collected by the Audubon Society has led to the area being recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area.

Over the years numerous small foot paths have been carved on the landscape.  While this may allow you to get a closer look at birds, the dune habitat is very fragile and easily damaged.  Please stay on current trails and off the dunes. In addition, a large portion of the beach area is designated as critical habitat for the Piping Plover, an endangered species.  Piping plovers returned, and have been nesting at Whitefish Point since 2009.  Please obey all signs and respect any beach closures to protect nesting Piping Plovers.

Some of the species of plants that particularly attract attention are lady-slippers, star-flower, and bunchberry, which can be found on dry, sandy areas and purple bog-laurel and white Labrador-tea, which grow in interdunal swales.  An interdunal swale is the low spot between two dunes.

Parking and restroom facilities are provided by the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society which administers the former Coast Guard buildings, including the lighthouse, and interprets the maritime significance of Whitefish Point.  The Whitefish Point Bird Observatory maintains a small visitor contact station which has a beautiful bird feeding station, a small exhibit area, and gift shop.

Allowable Activities:

  • The Whitefish Point Unit is open during daylight hours only.
  • Fishing is permitted in Lake Superior and is regulated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  • Hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, wildlife observation, photography, mushroom hunting, and fruit picking are permitted.
  • Fires, camping, rock collecting, and off road vehicles are not permitted.

Remember to leave those things you admire for others to see.

Whitefish Point Unit of Seney National Wildlife Refuge - Bird Checklist 

*Please note that the US Fish and Wildlife Service does not control the content or policies of eBird or Google, which you may visit when accessing parts of the table below. You should always check site policies before providing any personal information or reusing content.

 

Page Photo Credits — Piping Plovers - Marco Sánchez/USFWS
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2014
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