The Detroit River from downtown Detroit to the rivermouth at Lake Erie.

Ornithological Summary

This IBA is recognized for its outstanding migrant and wintering waterfowl and waterbird concentrations. Early winter surveys have recorded high counts of 79,300 Canvasbacks (i.e. over 10% of the estimated global population), over 1,900 Tundra Swans, 1,000 American Black Ducks, 10,000 Mallards, 3,500 Common Mergansers, 40 Forster's Terns, and 275 Common Tern nests.

Conservation Issues

Longstanding pollution from industrial air pollution, dumping of chemicals, and runoff have recently decreased, in part due to the efforts of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge and its support group, the Friends of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. These threats are still problematic and will require continued attention. Disturbance of the waterfowl flocks during late fall and winter (and nesting Common Terns) are potentially problematic for these species.


Public ownership of the open water IBA, all of which falls within the "acquisition boundary" of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.


Open water of river and Lake Erie, with rich beds of wild celery (Valisineria americana).

Land Use

Extremely varied usage of this site. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is doing a great variety of wildlife conservation work, fish restoration and environmental education. The river is lined with industrial facilities and brownfields, vacant lots, power plants, residences and subdivisions, marinas, and other uses.

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