4 ideas for spotting wildlife in Michigan

4 ideas for spotting wildlife in Michigan

Photo courtesy of Canva

By Ellery Weil

December 4, 2023

Want to take a walk on the wild side in the Wolverine State? The Mitten is full of fascinating creatures—including not only birds, fish, and insects but mountain lions, bobcats, river otters, and elk…oh my!

As many know, approaching Michigan’s wildlife can be dangerous. Did you know that our state is home to wolves? Pretty to look at, but be careful. If you’re armed with information on how to stay safe, however, you can catch a glimpse of some of our state’s magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. Take a look at how to safely spot some of the Mitten’s most exciting wildlife.

Elk Viewing

4 ideas for spotting wildlife in Michigan

(Photo via Michigan DNR)

Michigan is home to one of the largest elk herds in the Eastern Time Zone, and you can catch them out in the open when they’re in season. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, early autumn between September and October is the best time of year to view the state’s elk. You should head to one of the state’s designated elk viewing areas at dawn or dusk, the best times to see the herd. Remember, keep your distance—elk are not only wild animals but much bigger than you might realize until you’re too close for comfort. They should only be viewed from afar.


4 ideas for spotting wildlife in Michigan

(Photo via Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

From the forests to the dunes, whether it’s summer or winter, the birds of Michigan can be seen (and heard) all over the state. Birdwatching, or “birding” to the pros, can be done at any time of year, all over the state. However, due to migratory patterns, different times of the year are best for spotting different types of birds. For example, Michigan winters bring sightings of adorable yellow American goldfinches and majestic snowy owls. In the summer, keep an eye out for peregrine falcons and ruby-throated hummingbirds.

Aquatic Life in Michigan

4 ideas for spotting wildlife in Michigan

(Image via National Park Service)

From the Great Lakes to Michigan’s many ponds, creeks, and rivers, the Mitten is full of natural bodies of water—and all the fascinating and fabulous creatures they hold. Did you know Michigan is home to the adorable North American river otter? They can be spotted in clear waterways all over the Mitten, but particularly in the northern half of the state and the Upper Peninsula. While these slippery critters can be tough to spot, you can also look out for fish, waterbirds (like sandhill cranes in the marshlands), and all manner of insects in Michigan’s many waterways.

Backyard Nature Viewing

Finally, for those moments when you’d love to see some of Michigan’s wild creatures but can’t get away just yet, there’s always the wildlife in your own backyard. If you have a yard, consider buying a bird feeder to attract feathered friends year-round. But those aren’t the only creatures you might spot—raccoons and opossums can be spotted throughout Michigan. Just remember to keep your garbage can lid on tight to avoid uninvited dinner guests.




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