DNR News: Adopt an osprey nest, monitor reptiles and amphibians, photo ambassador snapshot

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News Digest - Week of April 5, 2021


Become a community scientist and help report sightings of amphibians and reptiles.

Some of this week's stories may reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has adapted to meet customers' needs and protect public health and safety. We will continue to share news and information about the best ways to enjoy our state's natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on access to facilities and programs. For public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

Larger, higher-res versions of some of the images used in this digest are available below at the end of the email. Osprey photo courtesy Robert Black/Audubon Photography Awards.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Day's end at Duck Lake

duck lake

Want to see more stunning pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Enrique Rodriquez, Jr. at Duck Lake State Park in Muskegon County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

Adopt an osprey nest this summer


An early sign of spring, ospreys are making their return to Michigan. The magnificent fish-hawk with striking brown and white plumage can be seen flying along shallow, fish-filled waters of the Great Lakes region — hovering, then plunging feet-first to snare fish in its talons. Ospreys can be found across the state, but they once faced an uncertain future here.

Osprey were severely affected by use of the pesticide DDT and were listed as a threatened species in Michigan after their population declined precipitously in the 1960s. Fortunately, the sale and use of DDT was banned in 1972, giving ospreys a fighting chance. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of MI Birds partners, the DNR, the Detroit Zoological Society and friends at Huron-Clinton Metroparks, the osprey was successfully reintroduced to southern Michigan and removed from the threatened species list in 2009.

However, it is incredibly important that ospreys continue to be monitored closely statewide to document the health and abundance of their populations. While this species now boasts over 200 known nest locations throughout the state, it is still listed as a Michigan species of special concern.

Volunteer community scientists like you can help us understand how ospreys are rebounding across the state. All ages and experience levels are invited to participate in the Adopt-A-Nest monitoring program, and it’s easy to do. A minimum commitment of three nest visits between May 15 and Aug. 1, lasting at least 15 minutes each, is all it takes to determine 1) if there is a nesting attempt, 2) if birds are actively nesting and 3) if there are any chicks in the nest. You can visit your nest more often if you’d like!

Binoculars are adequate for most observations, but a spotting scope is useful for determining the number of chicks. Most nests are located on cellular towers and are easily viewed from public roads.

Fill out this sign-up form to adopt an osprey nest. 

MI Birds is a public outreach and education program created by Audubon Great Lakes and the DNR, aimed at increasing all Michiganders' engagement in the understanding, care and stewardship of public lands that are important for birds and local communities.

Questions? Contact Emily Osborne at 414-841-5273.

Help monitor reptiles and amphibians in Michigan


Now that warm temperatures are back, reptiles and amphibians are out and about — if you look around, you might be able to spot them. Perhaps you’ve heard spring peepers or wood frogs calling. Or maybe you’ve seen a garter snake slip through sprouting blades of grass.

If you see any frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, lizards or turtles while out exploring natural areas, parks, trails or even your neighborhood, please report your observations to the DNR. 

Observations provide valuable data on trends, distribution and relative abundance for Michigan's reptile and amphibian species and inform the conservation efforts outlined in Michigan's Wildlife Action Plan.

“Reptiles and amphibians benefit from conservation work done by the DNR and partners, but we also need assistance from community scientists to track how their populations are doing,” said Amy Bleisch, DNR wildlife technician. “Your observations help provide that data.”

Keep an eye out for rare species like Blanding's turtle, eastern box turtle, spotted turtle and wood turtle, as well as the threatened eastern massasauga rattlesnake. Submit your reports at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField

“It is especially important we get sighting reports of these rare species to help shape our conservation efforts here in Michigan,” said Bleisch. 

Reports of other reptile and amphibian sightings also are appreciated and can be shared at MIHerpAtlas.org. The Michigan Herp Atlas is a community science program administered in partnership with Herpetological Resource and Management to collect observational data on Michigan’s herpetofauna, or “herps.”

In addition to reporting observations, you can support conservation efforts for rare reptiles and amphibians through the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund. Learn more about Michigan's reptiles and amphibians and how you can help at Michigan.gov/Wildlife

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.


Still figuring out where to fish? Check out roadmaps to fishing Michigan's Great Lakes. Make sure you have your 2021 fishing license and visit the fishing guide for rules & regs.


With Free ORV weekend coming up in June and August, now's a great time to get your ORV safety certificate, review trail etiquette and get your license and trail permit. Happy riding!


Everyone can do their part to make sure our state forests are clean. Make sure you know how to dispose of waste properly, and report any illegal dumpsites you see. 

/Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Suggested captions follow. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Frog: If you see any frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, lizards or turtles while out exploring natural areas, parks, trails or even your neighborhood, please report your observations to the DNR at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField.

Turtle: If you see any frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, lizards or turtles while out exploring natural areas, parks, trails or even your neighborhood, please report your observations to the DNR at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField./

Enjoy responsible recreation

Stay informed, stay safe: Mask up MichiganDNR COVID-19 response