Winter Community Science Opportunities in Michigan

Our colorful autumn foliage has fallen, temperatures have dropped, and bird song has all but disappeared, but surprisingly, not all Michigan birds fly south to warmer climates. In addition to the birds that stay in the state year-round, Michigan welcomes many new visitors from the north in the colder months, making winter an exciting time to watch birds.

Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, and Dark-eyed Juncos arrive at this time of year, in addition to Snowy Owls, Great Gray Owls, Northern Hawk Owls and Boreal Owls that make their way into the UP and northern lower peninsula. Winter is also the perfect season for waterfowl birding as hundreds of thousands of ducks, geese and swans descend on the Great Lakes.

This winter, you can contribute to science while you’re birding! Winter bird counts help scientists better understand winter bird movements, assess bird population health, and guide meaningful conservation action. With bird populations in decline since the 1960's, it is increasingly important that scientists and land managers understand all aspects of a birds life cycle.

Check out these upcoming community science opportunities hosted by MI Birds partners across the state, and find out how you can get involved:

Winter Feeder Counts (November 2021 – April 2022): Do you have a birdfeeder visible from a window in your home or at your office? If so, you are perfectly equipped to participate in a winter feeder count! Learn about how you can participate in Kalamazoo Nature Centers Michigan Feeder Count or Cornell’s international Project FeederWatch.

Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (December 14, 2021 – January 5, 2022): Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is entering its 122nd year! Data submitted by volunteers  helps scientists identify long-term population trends and movements for hundreds of bird species across North America. Visit Audubon’s interactive map to find contact information for a CBC coordinator near you!

Wild Turkey Observations (January 2022): Michigan DNR invites you to submit your winter Wild Turkey observations to help benefit Wild Turkey management across the state. The comeback of the Wild Turkey is one of Michigan’s greatest wildlife conservation stories and they can be found in every county in the Lower Peninsula and parts of the UP! Submit your observations here.

Climate Watch (January 15 – February 15, 2022): This annual Audubon bird count explores how North American birds, like the Eastern Bluebird, are responding to climate change. The results from the survey will allow scientists to identify areas of high climatic suitability for target species and to inform on-the-ground land management decisions. Learn how you can volunteer today!

The Great Backyard Bird Count (February 18-21, 2022): This 4-day event coordinated by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites people from all over the world to record their bird observations for at least 15 minutes, in your own backyard or at public lands near you! All ages and birding levels are welcome and you can participate in any or all of the 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