Winter’s for the Birds – Bundle up for Bird Counts Across Michigan

Participating in bird counts is a fun and fruitful way to spend your winter days

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 your winter days.

“Tracking the birds you see while birding 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 Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “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):

Do you have a birdfeeder or bird habitat visible from a window in your home or at your office? If so, you are 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 at any time between November and April.

Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (December 14, 2022 – January 5, 2023):

Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC) 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.

Climate Watch (January 15 – February 15, 2022):

This annual Audubon bird count explores how North American birds are responding to climate change. This count focuses on target species that are easy to identify like the Eastern Bluebird, and White-breasted Nuthatch. Learn about the target species and how you can volunteer today!

The Great Backyard Bird Count (February 17-20, 2023):

Don’t miss out on one of the biggest birding days of the year. People from all over the world participate in this annual 4-day event, coordinated by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. You can count birds in your own backyard or at public lands near you! All it takes is 15 minutes. All ages and birding levels are welcome and you can take part in any or all four days of this international birding event. Learn how you can participate.


MI Birds is a public outreach and engagement program created by Audubon Great Lakes and Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which aims to increase all Michiganders' engagement in the understanding, care, and stewardship of public lands that are important for birds and local communities.

How you can help, right now