The Keweenaw Peninsula may seem like an unlikely place for tens of thousands of raptors and waterfowl to wind up each spring, but thanks to a fluke of geography (and a boost from the wind) our distant shores are become a hotbed for migrating birds. During their spring migration north from their overwintering grounds nearer to the tropics, thousands of birds concentrate over the Keweenaw before continuing across Lake Superior into Canada. An impressive array of birds make the journey, including several species of hawk, eagle, vulture, and more. Birders from across the Upper Midwest also flock to the Keweenaw at this time of year for the chance to spot rare species not normally seen in our area. There's nothing quite like the thrill of the chase.
Due to its protrusion into Lake Superior, the Copper Country can be considered to be a 'rest stop' of sorts for birds flying north. Birds often congregate in the area until favorable winds allow them to fly efficiently over the great expanse of open water. For this reason, it is important that they have suitable places to stop in case their journey is delayed.
Photo Credit: Nathan Miller
Several groups have protected prime habitat for these migrating waterfowl and birds of prey over the years, including much of the Brockway Mountain ridgeline and other high terrain in the Keweenaw. Considerable work lies ahead if we are to establish additional safe havens for these long-distance flyers. With much of the interior of the Keweenaw locked up in the hands of faraway investment funds, there is a growing chance that these lands will be lost to aggressive logging or development. Property that many thought was already public land is being subdivided and sold. Migrating birds don't see property boundaries and may inadvertently put themselves at risk if they stray too close to developed areas. We must do what we can to protect these birds of prey along their journey and protecting our vast interior landscapes from development and fragmentation is key.
The Keweenaw Outdoor Recreation Coalition needs your help to ensure safe passage for these migrating bird species. Help us secure local control of the Keweenaw's forests so that future bird migrations are successful and these aerial predators can thrive. Support this effort by joining or giving to KORC today!