Spring Time is Bird Watching Time in Michigan

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Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, MI — April 1, 2021
Michigan Bird Migration / Photo Courtesy of Michigan DNR

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), “the return of migratory birds is the signature start to the Spring bird-watching season in Michigan. The trill of a red-winged blackbird and guttural call of the prehistoric sandhill crane offers an earful – and spotting them offers an eyeful – of spring’s natural wonders. To enjoy the arrival of these feathered travelers, grab your binoculars and explore.”

If you are a casual observer of our State’s feathered friends you might spot them while driving or spending time outdoors. A bird feeder in the backyard will attract various species of smaller songbirds. Experienced birders know the DNR provides a number of tips and resources to enhance the enjoyment of this popular hobby.

For example. “As birds return to Michigan and search for a suitable mate, they will perform courtship displays across the varied landscape. Among the most unique displays is the dramatic dance of the twirling timberdoodle. Also known as American woodcock, these birds are unique in appearance, with their plump bodies and long, skinny, pointed bills. Just after dusk on the edge of a grassy area, listen for their “peent” sound followed by a spiraling aerial performance. This mating display is one of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in Michigan each spring.” Sound like fun? Read on.

Photo Courtesy of Michigan DNR

Getting Started in Birding

To learn more about Michigan’s bird species and where to plan your next birding trip, visit Michigan.gov/Birding or follow MI Birds on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

A great resource for beginners is Audubon’s How to Start Birding webpage. You will find everything you need to get started, including which equipment you need, simple places to go, safety tips, how to identify different birds, and more.

Designated Bird Watching Areas

The DNR has established Grouse Enhanced Management Site (GEMS). GEMS are areas of publicly accessible land managed for wildlife habitat and wildlife recreation. Each area provides abundant food sources and shelter for diverse species, including migratory birds. While these areas are primarily used for upland game bird hunting in the fall, they provide excellent birding and wildlife recreation opportunities year-round.

Each area is complete with walking trails, parking areas, site information, and maps. Accessible to people of varying physical abilities, these trails are the perfect place for new birders or hikers to explore.

Michigan Bird Hotspots

Check out the eBird link on the DNR Birding page. Updated regularly, the hotspots list shows the number of different species spotted in geographic locations around the state.

Like most hobbies, bird-watching requires a commitment of time and some resources. It is one means of getting outdoors and enjoying our great State of Michigan.