While the weather outside may, as the song goes, be frightful, winter is one of the most exciting times to go birding across Michigan and the Great Lakes region. Many new visitors from the north arrive in the colder months, including snow buntings, horned larks and dark-eyed juncos. Snowy owls, great gray owls, northern hawk owls and boreal owls also make their way into the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula. Winter is the perfect season for waterfowl birding, too, as hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese and swans descend on the Great Lakes.
Participating in bird counts is a fun and fruitful way to spend winter days.
“Tracking the birds you see helps scientists better understand how birds move throughout the winter and how healthy their populations are,” said Erin Ford, conservation manager for MI Birds, a public outreach and engagement partnership between Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR. “This information can help guide meaningful, on-the-ground conservation action to protect birds and the places they need.”
Upcoming winter bird count opportunities include:
Winter feeder counts (November 2022-April 2023)
If you have a birdfeeder or bird habitat visible from a window in your home or offi ce, you’re ready to participate in a winter feeder count! Learn how to take part in Kalamazoo Nature Center’s Michigan Feeder Count or Cornell’s international Project FeederWatch. You can join these counts any time between now and April.
Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (Dec. 14, 2022-Jan. 5, 2023)
Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count is entering its 123rd year, making it the longest- running community science project in the country. Add your observations to help scientists and conservationists discover trends that make the work more impactful. Visit Audubon’s interactive map to find a count near you.
Wild turkey observations (January 2023)
This January, the DNR needs help collecting wild turkey observations to help benefit turkey management across the state. The comeback of the wild turkey is one of Michigan’s greatest wildlife conservation stories.
Learn more about how you can get involved in bird conservation on the MI Birds webpage.
Questions? Contact Erin Ford at 310-383-7353.