DNR: Keep An Eye Out for Stranded Waterfowl This Winter

Created: 02/10/2014 4:09 PM
By: Michigan DNR

This winter, the Department of Natural Resources asks those living along the Great Lakes, especially Lake Michigan, to keep an eye out for confused, stranded waterfowl in local towns and neighborhoods.
The exceptionally cold winter weather of the past few weeks has caused the bays and waters of the Great Lakes to freeze much further into the center than in recent years. Rather than move far into the deep waters of the lakes, some waterfowl – including horned and red-necked grebes; common, hooded and red-breasted mergansers; and long-tailed ducks – are moving from the larger, freezing waters of the Great Lakes and are looking for open water bodies inland. In foggy, snowy, low-visibility conditions, these birds are mistaking icy roadways and driveways for inland water bodies and are becoming stranded on land.
Grebes, mergansers and a few species of duck have feet that are placed far back on their bodies to allow them to dive for their preferred prey – fish. Because of this foot placement, these birds are not able to take off from dry land. These stranded birds can starve if they are not found and returned to the water fairly quickly.  
Though this happens almost every year, reports of stranded waterfowl have been high this winter.
If you find a stranded grebe, merganser or duck, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator to help get the bird to water. To view a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators in Michigan, visit If you encounter a dead grebe, merganser or duck, contact your local DNR Wildlife Field Office or Operations Service Center.

Several horned grebes and other waterfowl have been found stranded near Lake Michigan this winter.
Photo by Jeremy Joswick

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