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Wildlife & Habitat

Adult sandhill crane.

The greater sandhill crane can be found nesting at the Michigan Wetlands Management District.

  • Mallard Brood

    Mallard Brood

    The green-headed male mallard and the less showy female pair off in the spring to tend to “waterfowl production” - successfully nesting and raising a brood of ducklings. Their success, in part, depends on having high quality wetland and grassland habitats. On our five areas, mallards and other ducks are most likely to be seen in the wetlands in spring during migration. When conditions are right in late March or early April the lucky viewer may hear and see the commotion of hundreds of “quackers” from a number of waterfowl species on the areas’ wetlands. In early summer the migrants have moved on, but a patient visitor may be treated to the site of a young brood of mallard or wood duck ducklings in the wetlands.  Later in summer ducks are more secretive as they molt their feathers. Fall again brings more activity as the mallards begin their southward migration.

  • Bobolink


    In the late spring and early summer, watch for the male bobolink perching on a grass stem or displaying over the grass fields of the waterfowl production areas. Unlike so many songbirds, which are lighter colored on their bellies than their backs, the male bobolink is a black bird who sports his brighter colors on his “topside”. Larger blocks of grass and wildflowers support bobolinks, meadowlarks, dickcissel, and a number of sparrow species.  A patient birder in spring may be lucky enough to enjoy the sight or sound of one or more of these species in the grass fields of the five areas.

  • Sandhill Crane

    Sandhill crane colt.

    The bugling call of the sandhill crane, Michigan’s tallest bird, has become one more sign of the return of spring in southern Michigan. Sandhill cranes are becoming more abundant throughout southern Lower Peninsula and have been seen on all five waterfowl production areas in spring. Cranes have successfully nested on at least two of the areas, so a sharp-eyed visitor may spot a young crane foraging with the adults in early summer.

  • Wetlands


    Wetlands are a key component of habitat for many species of wildlife. On lands acquired as waterfowl production areas, putting the ‘wet’ back into drained wetlands has been a key part of our restoration program. We have plugged ditches and broken drain tile lines to reverse agricultural drainage. This allows us to improve degraded wetlands for wildlife. We have added wetlands of different sizes and shapes on public and private lands across the landscape. Restoring wetlands helps to meet the diverse needs of many species of wildlife. These wetlands provide a place to rest and “refuel” for migrating waterfowl and both food and shelter for broods of young ducklings.

  • Grasslands


    We establish grasslands with many types of wildflowers to mimic some of the prairies lost in Michigan as the state was settled. When we lost native prairie we lost homes for wildlife. Populations of many wildlife species that depend on grasslands to survive have declined. Planting and managing grasses and wildflowers on the waterfowl production areas allows us to provide nesting cover for grassland birds including mallards, pheasants, and bobolinks. The plants also help to support butterflies, bees, beetles and other insects. These “bugs” help to pollinate many of our native plants as well as farm crops and fruits.

  • Woods


    The woodlots on the waterfowl productions areas provide another type of habitat. The woods are a home for deer, turkey, squirrels and other wildlife. Many animals use the woods, wetlands, grasslands and surrounding farmland to meet their needs throughout the year. Many songbirds nest and feed in trees. We will manage the woods to try to minimize the impact of disease and insect pests to the trees. We also want to increase food and shelter for birds.

Last Updated: Jul 09, 2012
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