Large National Wildlife Refuge featuring one of the state's largest managed wetland complexes.

Ornithological Summary

Shiawassee NWR is a critical stopover site on the migratory route of the Southern James Bay population of the Canada Goose. During fall migration 48,000 waterfowl use these marshes for feeding and resting. Of these, approximately 20,000 (19,500) are Canada Geese (21% of the Southern James Bay population) and 23,000 are Mallards. During spring migration these marshes support 19,000 waterfowl. Of these, approximately 14,000 (13,750) are Canada Geese (15% of the Southern James Bay population). The habitat in this area is used by more than just waterfowl. The wetlands may support a breeding population of the King Rail (threatened in Michigan), as well as other nesting wetland species, including large numbers of Sedge Wrens. The forested area supports one of the few breeding populations of Prothonotary Warblers (Partners in Flight Watchlist) in Michigan. Overall, more than 250 species of birds have been found on the refuge. Of these, 84 species breed (33 {39%} of which winter, at least in part, in the neotropics). An additional 42 neararctic migrants are seen on the refuge annually, either coming from or returning to their wintering grounds in the neotropics.

Conservation Issues

Invasive species pose primary threat, especially Phragmites, though staff have done an exemplary job of providing fast action to stop any colonies which spring up. As a result the emergent marsh is almost entirely native vegetatively. Pollution, succession, and overbrowsing present secondary threats.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


An emergent wetland complex dominated by high-quality cattail. Site also supports lowland floodplain forest, shrub swamp, and an array of agricultural fields.

Land Use

Primary land use is wildlife conservation, with hunting and recreational use a secondary consideration.

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