Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge habitats support 300 species of birds, including 30 species of waterfowl, 23 species of raptors, and 31 species of shorebirds, plus 117 kinds of fish. More than three million waterfowl migrate through the Great Lakes annually. American black ducks gather in the marshes of western Lake Erie before completing their fall journey south. Migrating canvasbacks rest and feed on beds of wild celery in the lower Detroit River. Wood ducks, mallards, and blue-winged teal nest in the area, and a wide variety of wading birds and shorebirds reside within the refuge boundary during the summer months. Great blue herons and common egrets hunt in the area’s shallow waters, while dunlins, spotted sandpipers, yellowlegs, and dowitchers probe the sands for tasty morsels.
Opportunities to view wildlife on the refuge and within its boundary are rampant. Humbug Marsh contains hiking trails and nature observation vantage points for visitors to enjoy wildlife viewing opportunities; southeast Michigan has teamed up with southwest Ontario to create a driving birding tour, Byways to Flyways, that includes refuge lands; and the lower Detroit River is considered one of the best places in North America to watch hawks during the Fall raptor migration which is celebrated during an annual Hawkfest event that attracts thousands of people.