The Great Lakes Region has one of the most diverse and beautiful collection of waterfowl in North America. With 3000 miles of coast line in Michigan, dozens of species, various mating and breeding habits as well as migration routes there are plenty of opportunists to spot these birds all year round. This collection of birds attracts bird watchers, casual viewers and hunters a like every year.
Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, this is the primary law protecting all the migration patters for various birds of the continent including some Great Lakes favorites such as the Sand Hill Crane and Wood Duck. For a more complete list of the migratory birds of Michigan the United States Forest Service has a great tool. 140 different species use the thousands of miles of Michigan coast line for vital habitat during their life cycles. With little more than a pair of good binoculars and some patience you can observe these animals while they go about their daily lives.
There are some 3 million ducks that migrate through this region every season. All species and seasonal migrations combined, there are over 20 million different birds that fly through each year. Continued habitat loss of 1% annually has contributed to our birds total habitat being 62% lower than their historic averages. The invasive zebra mussels also contributes to lower bird numbers because the mussels filter out heavy metals in the water but get concentrated in the mussel which many birds then ingest. To turn this problem around it falls to society to make a change and prioritize conservation. Wetland restoration by individual communities and governments is one of the best ways to combat the dwindling numbers of our native birds. This provides them many safe and habitual zones to stop at and breed in during their migrations.
Be sure to support bird conservation wherever you can locally and keep your head pointed towards the sky!
Photo Credit to Steffano Cassia via Shutterstock: https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/flying-male-mallard-429205147?src=jECzHkRylWTJEU363Hsupg-1-0