A bird singing
The main attraction at Birdfest, this weekend on the Leelanau Peninsula

Flights of Feathers

The Leelanau Peninsula has long been known for wine tasting than bird watching, but that may change as the scenic Michigan community hosts the Second Annual Leelanau Peninsula Birdfest this weekend. Through Sunday, you can indulge in flights from at least 15 of the area’s wineries and guided outings to nesting hotspots. Want to join a flock of avian experts as they lead bird watching trips throughout the scenic region, where more than 100 species are currently nesting? For $35, you can join ten different trips to area conservancies and sit in on lectures by Greg Butcher, Migratory Species Coordinator for U.S. Forest Service International Programs, and Jerry Weinrich, known for his recovery work on behalf of Michigan’s endangered Kirtland Warbler registration fee (in-person registration is at the Fountain Point Resort in Lake Leelanau; see address below). Or, check out these two other bird-watching outings:

  • Ride a tall ship past the Bellow’s Island conservancy on a trip led by William Scharf, a colonial water bird specialist. From the schooner Inland Seas, birders should be able to spot Caspian terns, Herring gulls, Red-breasted Mergansers, and Blue-winged teals as well as Double-crested cormorants. ($55)
  • Take a pontoon through the wetlands of the Leelanau Conservancy’s Cedar River Preserve. Inaccessible by land, the wetlands along the south end of Lake Leelanau are home to loons, swamp sparrows, and yellow warblers. ($30)

GO Leelanau Peninsula Second Annual Birdfest in Lake Leelanau, Michigan; 231-271-3738, mibirdfest.com.

Where to stay: The historic Fountain Point Resort (990 S. Lake Leelanau Dr., Lake Leelanau; 231-256-9800, fountainpointresort.com) is the official HQ for Birdfest; Rooms at the 123-year-old resort (which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places) range from spacious (a cottage that sleeps 13) to cozy (hotel rooms with a shared bath). Rates range from about $120 to $650 per night. The Riverside Inn (302 River St., Leland; 231-256-9971, theriverside-inn.com) has four guestrooms in a 107-year-old refurbished mansion on the banks of the Leland River; rates range from $110 to $175 a night.

Where to eat: If you don’t stay at The Riverside Inn (see above), consider going for dinner. Dining there features made-on-the-premises charcuterie, local cheeses, and an extensive wine list. Martha’s Leelanau Table (413 N. Saint Joseph St., Suttons Bay; 231-271-2344, marthasleelanautable.com) serves locally sourced comfort food (with full plenty of gluten-free options) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Photograph: Courtesy of Kay Charter/Saving Birds Through Habitat