A Festival of Birds

Not your standard bird-watching field trip, the 5th Annual Leelanau Birding Festival offers over nine guided trips over the four-day schedule, including a birding adventure to Gull Island Preserve on the two-masted schooner Inland Seas.

BirdFest takes place May 28th-31st. Check out the links to complete field trip information and online registration.

With miles of shorelines, thousands of acres of public forests and dedicated natural areas, the Sleeping Bear Dunes and Leelanau County is one of the greatest bird-watching areas in the Midwest. Here, you can see more than 100 different species of nesting birds, including the rare Great Lakes Piping Plover.

Now in it’s fifth year, Leelanau Peninsula BirdFest brings participants together with top birding experts who act as guides on fieldtrips targeting specific species. Whether you’re an amateur looking for variety or a more experienced birder hunting for a few rare birds to round out your life list, these fieldtrips offer a unique opportunity to accompany experienced birders who in most cases are capable of identifying birds by sight and sound.


BirdFest has expanded its fieldtrip lineup over the past five years to include a dozen different excursions throughout the Lakeshore area in 2015. Arguably the most popular is “Birding By Tall Ship Inland Seas,” a journey aboard a traditional sailing vessel to Gull Island to observe Caspian terns and a variety of gulls.

Among others offered are a hunt for prairie warblers on Good Harbor Bay; searching for the woodland birds of Pyramid Point; and a lighthouse trip to Leelanau State Park to search for nesting species such as scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, spotted sandpipers, piping plovers and the more.

Check out the Leelanau Birding Festival website for field trip details and an online registration form. Registration costs are $15 per day/person; $30 for two- or three-day registration; plus any additional fees for special field trips.