• A mid-afternoon veiw down the expanse of Isle Royale National Park.  Photo taken from the Mount Ojibway Fire Tower.

    Isle Royale

    National Park Michigan

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  • Unmanned aircraft including hobbyists

    All waters and lands within the boundary of Isle Royale National Park have been closed to the use of unmanned aircraft including radio-controlled airplanes, hexacopters, and similar items. More »

Birds

For over a century people have been watching and documenting the birds of Isle Royale. Historical reports from the early and mid-1900s revealed which species were migrating northward, which were spending the summer raising a family, and which were present on the island all year long. Efforts in recent years have included surveys along eight sections of park trails, listening for the songs that birds use to advertise themselves to prospective mates and defend a territory against rivals. Listening to bird song is a fairly simple way to identify birds without disturbing them, and changes in species communities over time can be an indicator of habitat change.

The changes in species lists over the past 100 years tells us that habitats have indeed been fluctuating, sometimes due to human actions, such as fires set to reveal copper veins, but often due to the natural progression of forest and wetland vegetation. After a large fire in 1936, many bird species that enjoy post-fire conditions must have done well. One such species was the Sharp-tailed Grouse, which had been considered a common year-round resident until the past couple of decades when forests again entered a more mature stage. In contrast, Sandhill Cranes have become a somewhat common species in drained wetlands, and in recent years many breeding pairs have been found across the island.

To review the report, "Breeding Bird Monitoring at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan 1996-2008", click here.

To view a bird list of the park, click here.

Did You Know?

A sunset silhouette of a backpacker on a ridge.

Although the yearly number of visitors to Isle Royale is less than Yellowstone receives in a day, the Island's per acre backcountry use is the highest of all National Parks in the United States.