DNR News: Birds, birds and more birds (and small game season opener)

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News Digest – Week of Sept. 12, 2022

A calm, autumnal lake framed by a forest of orange, red, yellow, and green trees.

Fall is on the way! Check out autumnal birding and hunting opportunities.

Here are just a few of this week's stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources: 

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

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and others, are available in this folder. Canvasback duck photo courtesy Chandler Wiegand/Audubon.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Watchful warbler

A black throated blue warbler, a small blue, black, and white songbird, perches on a pine tree.

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

Small game season kicks off Thursday

A woodcock, a small bird with white, brown, and black markings and a long beak, stands on a forest floor.

Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or new to the sport, you can enjoy Michigan's abundant small game hunting opportunities this fall – all you need is a base license.  

Several seasons start in September, and it’s the perfect time to spend some time outdoors searching for small game – and maybe scout a spot for deer hunting later this fall. Fox and gray squirrel, rabbit, hare, ruffed grouse and woodcock hunting all open Thursday, Sept. 15.

If you’re targeting woodcock, you'll need a free woodcock stamp – which includes your Harvest Information Program registration – in addition to your small game license.

Not sure where to go? Michigan's grouse enhanced management sites are great for grouse and other small game hunting. Learn about these premier bird hunting locations at Michigan.gov/GEMS. For more places to hunt, check out Michigan.gov/MIHunt. Mi-HUNT is an interactive map that shows lands open to public hunting throughout the state, as well as cover types, nearby recreation amenities and other features.

Fall turkey hunting also starts Sept. 15, and even if you didn't enter the drawing for a limited-quota license, you still could snag a turkey tag. Leftover fall turkey licenses will be sold until quotas are met, and hunters may purchase up to one license a day. Hunters may harvest one turkey per license. Check leftover turkey license availability and find additional fall turkey hunting information at Michigan.gov/Turkey.

More information on small game hunting opportunities in Michigan can be found at Michigan.gov/SmallGame. Check the 2022 Hunting Digest, available at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests, for season dates, bag limits and other regulations.

Still need to get your 2022 base license? Buy online at Michigan.gov/DNRLicenses, through the new Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app or anywhere DNR licenses are sold.

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

Make the most of fall birding in Michigan

Two canvasback ducks, one male and one female, huddle together while floating on the water.

Fall is a magical time, as the rainbow of color emerges across the landscape – and brings birds just as colorful! Waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors will begin to pass through Michigan on their way south to their wintering grounds. Michigan lies at the intersection of the Mississippi and Atlantic flyways, two migration “superhighways” that bring more than 380 bird species through the state each fall.

Michigan's coastal and inland wetlands act as important resting and refueling zones for migratory birds; if you want to get in some quality fall birding, these areas are among the best habitats to visit. Wetlands provide birds with water, food and shelter during their long migration journeys, and many birds follow the coastline on their way south.

Whether you’re a birding newbie or a seasoned birder, keeping an eye on the weather can help you prepare for your next fall trip. Wind and other weather events can help you predict bird movements. Storms and cold fronts can often result in an awe-inspiring migratory event known as a “fall-out,” when a dense concentration of migratory birds hunkers down in a particular area until poor weather passes. Cold fronts also tend to have northerly winds, which blow north to south, that aid our feathered friends in their southward migration. Regularly check your weather radar or use BirdCast, a special forecast tool that predicts when birds will be moving near you.

Here’s what bird species to expect over the next couple of months:

Learn about what birds to expect in November by visiting Audubon’s website.

Want to see the wonders of bird migration in action, but not sure where to start? Explore the Michigan.gov/Birding page for information about Michigan’s birding trails and migration hot spots.

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

ICYMI: DNR takes big step toward 2024 Binational Trail plans

Several men and women in business casual stand around podium, next to a map of Michigan and Ontario, river skyline behind them

Several partner agencies and organizations in Canada and Michigan on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding to develop binational Great Lakes trail tourism destination opportunities by 2024. It’s a move that coincides with the anticipated 2024 opening of the Gordie Howe International Bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario – the border cities on the Detroit River considered the heart of the Great Lakes and serving as gateways to each country.

In case you missed it, DNR Director Dan Eichinger was in Windsor for the signing, along with representatives of the Trans Canada Trail, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. The memorandum builds on the strength and appeal of the Trans Canada Trail and Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail, and the new bridge will provide space for people to cross safely by foot or on bike, encouraging residents and visitors to explore and enjoy the ample greenways, waterways and outdoor recreation opportunities available on both sides of the bridge.

Read the event news release and view a recording of the streamed video originally carried by the city of Windsor’s Facebook page.


Summer is near its end, but the outdoor fun never stops! Fall is a great time to hike one of Michigan's beautiful trails; and just in time for MI Trails Week, Sept. 18-25.


Small game season is the perfect prelude to fall deer season. Make sure you're prepared for both with hunter safety courses, classes and mentored hunts.


Forests are the backdrop of fall, and we can all chip in to make sure they stay healthy year-round. Grab your work gloves, call some friends and Adopt-a-Forest today.

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