The Whitefish Point Unit of Seney National Wildlife
Refuge 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 National Wildlife Refuge 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 into 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
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
center which has a beautiful bird feeding station, a small exhibit
area, and a gift shop.
- 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
- Fires, camping, rock collecting, and off-road vehicles are not
Remember to leave those things you admire for others to see.
Whitefish Point Unit of Seney National Wildlife Refuge - Bird Checklist
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