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Birding

Close up view of an Osprey flying through the air

Birding

Michigan’s birds are some of the most beautiful and fascinating creatures to observe outdoors. It's a popular past time for residents and visitors alike, who can find more than 450 bird species on Michigan's many birding trails, state parks and recreation areas, state wildlife and game areas, national wildlife refuges, Great Lakes coastline and more.

Birding seasons

A Kirtlands warbler sitting in a tree

Spring birding

Spring is a great time for birding in Michigan. Our early migrants are back and settling in to woo a mate and raise a family; our late migrants are flooding though in great colorful waves as they race to be the first back to claim their own nesting spot.

A Sanderling wading on the water

Summer birding

By the end of July, most chicks have left the nest - making birds more abundant as fledglings join the ranks of their parents. Late summer also brings the arrival of migratory Arctic shorebirds that only visit us during their incredible journey to and from their wintering grounds.

A raptor flies through the blue sky with wings spread out

Fall birding

Some of Michigan's best birding can be found in the fall. Birds from across Canada and the north central US make a beeline for the Great Lakes on their migration south. It's also time to watch for northern birds that come to spend the winter in Michigan.

a woodpecker in a tree in the snow

Winter birding

Winter birding takes the spotlight as a lot of our summer migrants have gone and our winter residents have shifted southward. It's a perfect time to get to know some of these new neighbors.

Flying trumpeter swans

Winged Wednesday - migration text updates

Michigan is home to so many interesting birds and we want to share some feathery facts with you.

Sign up for our Winged Wednesday text updates to learn more about the birds moving through Michigan and the best state parks to see them.

Simply text "bird" to 51555 or sign up for text updates!

BIRDING TRAILS

If you want to get in a weekend of high quality birding, check out one of Michigan's birding trails. Each trail highlights several destinations within easy driving distance of each other where you can get in some of the best birding in Michigan.

The AuSable Birding Trail highlights remarkable bird habitat throughout the Houghton Lake, Higgins Lake, St. Helen, Grayling and AuSable River area. The trail takes you through the woods and into the wetlands where you can spot birds such as Kirtland’s Warblers and Bald Eagles. 

Beaver Island Birding Trail

As the largest island in Lake Michigan, Beaver Island is a critical stopover site for migratory birds flying up the lake on their way north to breeding grounds. Many stay to nest. This trail includes more than 12,000 acres of state and township lands and four Little Traverse Conservancy preserves. 

North Huron Birding Trail

The north shoreline of Lake Huron in the Upper Peninsula is known as one of the most beautiful and pristine areas of wilderness in all of the Midwest. This birding trail has five zones including St. Ignace, Les Cheneax area, DeTour, Drummond Island and Pickford Grasslands area.

Saginaw Bay Birding Trail

This trail covers 142 miles, running from Port Crescent State Park on the eastern end to Tawas Point State Park on the western end, and largely follows the shoreline of the entire Saginaw Bay. Diverse habitats, sprawling miles of shoreline, over 200 species of birds and extensive natural areas with public access make this trail a bider's paradise.

Sleeping Bear Birding Trail

The trail covers the entire 123 miles of M-22, running from Manistee on the southern end to Traverse City at the north. The trail is anchored by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and is home to the Piping Plover, an endangered shorebird that needs vast stretches of undisturbed beach.

St. Clair - Macomb Birding Trail

St. Clair and Macomb counties are home to a wide variety of resident and migrating birds thanks to a diverse habitat and access to large lakes, rivers and streams. The area also sits below multiple migratory routes, the Atlantic and the Mississippi flyways, providing birders with chances to observe different birds at different times of the year.

Sunrise Coast Birding Trail

The Sunrise Coast Birding Trail incorporates 145 miles along U.S. 23. The trail takes flight at the mouth of the famed AuSable River in Oscoda and wings its way north all along the Lake Huron coast to Mackinaw City. Birders will delight in observing the  common, threatened , or endangered birds  of our coastal and inland locations.

Sunset Coast Birding Trail

The Sunset Coast Birding Trail runs through Antrim, Charlevoix and Emmet counties, benefiting the local communities by promoting economic development and environmental stewardship. This trail hosts a wide variety of protected areas and habitats that attract a large number of Michigan’s 400-plus bird species.

Superior Birding Trail

World class birding in the wilds of Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula. Anchored by Whitefish Point in the north and the Seney National Wildlife Refuge in the south, the 150- mile Superior Birding Trail guides visitors through the rugged and rare ecosystems of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Thornapple Birding Trail

With over 22,000 acres of state game area, many parks, and over 250 lakes, Barry County hosts a wide variety of bird-filled habitats. Stop by for the ducks and Common Loons, or search out the thirteen species of warblers that nest in Barry County.

Getting Started with Birding

How to start birding

Are you brand new to birding? Check out the Audubon's How to Start Birding webpage. You will find everything you need to get started including what equipment you need, simple places to go, safety tips, how to identify different birds and more.

American Birding Association

An organization that provides leadership to birders by increasing their knowledge, skills and enjoyment of birding - specifically catering to recreational birders.

Code of birding ethics

Practice and promote respectful, enjoyable, and thoughtful birding as defined in this code.

Great Lakes Audubon

A regional office of the National Audubon Society, Audubon Great Lakes manages conservation work throughout the region to protect and improve habitat critical for birds during their migration and nesting cycles. 

MI Birds

MI Birds is an outreach and engagement program founded by Audubon Great Lakes and MI DNR, which aims to increase all Michiganders' engagement in the understanding, care, and stewardship of public lands that are important for birds and people. 

Michigan Audubon

Michigan Audubon connects birds and people for the benefit of both through conservation, education, and research efforts in the state of Michigan.

MSU's W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary

A unique wildlife center located in southwest Michigan offering conservation-focused public programs, interpretive tours and accessible trails that allow close views of captive and wild birds.