Audubon Day April 26

April 22, 2024
A man looks for birds through his binoculars on Audubon Day

Friday, April 26 is Audubon Day, and to honor this day, I recently interviewed the president of the Petoskey Regional Audubon Society, Lisa Hoyt, who also just so happens to be my coworker and friend. Lisa is a lot of fun to work with, but this time of year it can be difficult to track her down. She has been known to receive text messages from her Audubon friends alerting her of rare bird sightings in nearby towns. And then, the chase is on. She has driven to places like Alpena, East Jordan, or even farther south to get a glimpse of a bird with a name that my other coworkers and I are sure she has made up. Last fall she was in mad pursuit of a limpkin, a bird that is normally only seen in places like Florida and southern Georgia. Unfortunately, the limpkin was elusive, and she was unable to spot him. 

Lisa is more than just a mere casual fan of birds. Lisa is a dedicated, diehard birder. 

How long have you been a part of the Petoskey Audubon Regional Society? 

I got involved in late 2013, and I have helped out with their publicity since then. I helped expand their Facebook presence and launched their new website. I stepped into the president’s role in June of 2022.

How long have you been interested in birds and birding?

As a young girl, I remember goldfinches at my grandpa’s house on his feeders, and I remember cardinals always singing at my other grandpa’s house, and doves. My dad was really into the outdoors, and he would take me out, and I remember him pointing out kestrels on telephone lines driving around. It wasn’t until 2013 that I got serious about birding. 

What do you like best about birding? 

Being out in nature. Exploring different areas. Exploring different habitats and meeting new people. I met a lot of great people while birding. Also, when you are out, you are always learning something new. 

Where are some of the interesting places you have traveled to go birding?

I have traveled to Florida, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, throughout Michigan, and New Jersey. 

What are some of your favorite places in and around Petoskey to go birding?

Tufted Titmouse bird around berries

I like to go to Spring Lake Park [in Petoskey] and walk along the bike path by Mud Lake, Spring Lake and Round Lake. Because the bike path is paved, it is easy walking for anyone. There are sometimes ducks in the water and generally a lot of birds around.  Thorne Swift [in Harbor Springs] is a nice place too. In East Jordan, [I like to go to] the waterfront and neighboring Rogers Preserve, and in Charlevoix- Fisherman’s Island is great and North Point. One thing that people might not be aware of is up in Mackinaw City when they do the spring raptor watch and water bird count you can go up there and when raptor migration is going on, you can look up and there can be 2,000 broad-winged hawks circling around just waiting for the right time to cross the straits. 

What other types of birds can people expect to see in the area? 

Around Spring Lake you can find Baltimore orioles nesting there, red wing blackbirds, yellow warblers, sometimes swamp sparrows, song sparrows, chickadees and various woodpeckers.

What are the tools that you do not leave home without when you are going birding?

Binoculars. Many times I like to have a camera with me. I also have my phone with me for a couple of reasons. I can access my Audubon app so I can look up different bird characteristics or to identify something. The best thing I have on my phone now that’s available to anyone and is free is the Merlin Bird ID app. This app is game changing. I wish it would have been available when I first started birding because not only can you use it to listen to birds that are singing and it helps you to identify them, it also has a bird ID where you can enter in size of bird, color of bird, habitat of bird and that will help people narrow down what they could possibly be seeing. 

What do you recommend for first time birders? What advice do you have for them?  

Merlin is a great guide. People might also want to grab a printed field guide to try to familiarize themselves with birds that are typically seen in our area, what the different species are, what they look like. It’s great if you can find someone to bird with. Or sign up to go on some sort of a bird walk. You can learn so much from the people who are there. They will help point out the birds by seeing them and hearing them. They will help you with identification.  

Are there any bird excursions that your group puts on or other things available in northern Michigan if people want to get involved in birding with other people? 

Yes! Check our Petoskey Audubon Facebook page, or our website,, we will be very active in May and early June with several different bird walks and bird trips. That is the best time to bird because a lot of our neotropical birds are showing up. That’s a lot of our warblers in their bright breeding plumage, and before the leaves come out on the trees it is so much easier to see all of the birds. We will have a lot of different opportunities for people to get out and explore different areas and see birds.   

Is there anything else you want to share with us? 

Let me think, is there anything else that I want to mention?  You can bird anywhere. And I think something else that is really cool about birding is that. . . I think you slow down, and I think that you are so much more present. Even leaving the house in the morning, instead of just getting in the car and driving to work in the morning, now, I get out there and I hear [the sounds of the birds]. I think it helps you to pause a little bit and be more attentive and present. 

Audubon Day is always celebrated on April 26 which is the birthdate of John James Audubon. This year it happens to fall on Arbor Day, which is always observed on the last Friday of April. As if we needed an excuse to get out and explore nature in springtime in northern Michigan, this April 26 we have two.