The Evolution of Tawas Point Birding Festival

AuSable Valley Audubon to Takeover Festival

Fourteen years ago, Michigan Audubon and one of its chapters, AuSable Valley Audubon (then called Iosco Audubon), decided to collaborate in creating an event for birders to help put Tawas and Iosco County on the map for birding, particularly during spring migration in Michigan.  

We recognized the opportunity to draw more people to this magnificent birding hotspot during spring migration in order to connect people and birds for the benefit of both. That initial idea in 2006 evolved into a collective effort that also involved the Tawas Chamber of Commerce and businesses in the Tawas area, bringing birders and business to the area. 

Throughout the years, it’s clear that — through our collaborative work — we’ve met our objectives successfully each year. In fact, the festival has officially placed Tawas Point on the map of birding hot spots for birders across the country! We are so pleased that we met our goal with this collaboration and that so much education and connection with birds has happened as a result. The Iosco County area is strongly cemented as the place to go in Michigan in mid-May for warbler migration. This is evidenced by the flocks of birders who come to Tawas Point State Park throughout the month of May. Birders are coming to the area, not purely because of the festival, but simply for the birds!

Since 2016, Michigan Audubon has grown tremendously in terms of our programs and projects, and we continue to expand our reach and impact in terms of conservation, education, and research. We will continue to support the Tawas Point Birding Festival, but we want to share with you, our members and many past attendees of the festival, that the AuSable Valley Audubon has agreed to formally own and lead this event in the future. 

The AuSable Valley Audubon chapter leaders, members, and festival volunteers have been steadfast in their commitment to sharing the Tawas area to both new and experienced birders. Given this group’s location in the Tawas region, history, investment in the event, and commitment to it, we are excited to see this group take ownership of the festival. Ruth Golm, president of AVA, said, “It has been a true adventure, educational experience, and a thrill to see the festival grow and prosper over the years of work and fun. It was a huge benefit to have Michigan Audubon involved for so many years.” 

Golm also stated, “We recently had our first committee meeting to begin plans for Tawas Point Migration 2020. We will be going forward with that for May 14 – 16, 2020.” 

Michigan Audubon will continue to share this festival’s registration information on our website and in the Jack Pine Warbler, and we encourage you to attend this event and make it a May mainstay in your calendar year of enjoying Michigan birds!

2019 Tawas Point Birding Festival Species List

Tawas Point is well known for high concentrations of migrating warblers during the month of May. Species highlights have included Kirtland’s Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-crowned Sparrow, numerous raptors, shorebirds, and more. Many of these species were repeatedly seen at the Tawas Point State Park, 686 Tawas Beach Rd, East Tawas. In 2019, participants were able to record 178 species throughout the festival!

The 2019 festival included guided tours of local hotspots, a birding 101 workshop, bird identification workshops, and opportunities for birders to network and socialize.

Thank you to our 2019 Tawas Point Birding Festival Sponsors!

Eastern Whip-poor-will $1000+

DTE Foundation

Bald Eagle $500

Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Council

Kirtland’s Warbler $250

Bill Roth

Mooney’s Ben Franklin

Neiman’s Family Market

Oscoda Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Scofield Real Estate LLC

Stephenson & Company, PC

Tawas Bay Big Boy and Northwoods Steakhouse

Thunder Bay Audubon Society

Trumpeter Swan $100

Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union

Arnold Leriche

Barnacle Bill’s

Big Bob’s Restaurant & Pizzeria

Camp Inn Lodge

Cathy’s Hallmark

East Tawas City Park

Gingerich Feed & Implements, Inc.

Hsing’s Garden Chinese Restaurant

McDonald’s of Tawas

Michigan Ducks Unlimited

Mr. Jack’ss Sports Bar & Grill

Peggy Ridgway

Pine River VanEtten Lake Watershed

Plainfield Township

Rainbow Gardens

Tawas Bay Insurance Agency

Tawas Do-It Best Hardware & Lumber

Tri-County Agency, Inc.

Village Chocolatier

Whitetail Cafe

Wojahn Floor Covering, Inc.

Scarlet Tanager $50

Bernard Building Center

Branham’s Jewelry Store

Brew Krew

Colvin’s Plumbing & Heating

Feminist Bird Club Michigan

Freel’s Market

G’s Pizzeria

Holistic Pampered Pets

Huron Community Bank

Jeffrey Chadwick, O.D., P.C.

John L. Lesneski DDS

Kathy Jane’s Boutique

Kirtland’s Warbler Audubon Society

Klenow’s Market


Susan and Ed Davis

Tawas Bay Art Gallery