With the snow melting and days getting longer, Michigan’s spring birding season is almost here, and now is the time to start making plans.

“New activities for Michigan’s birding community have increased over the last few years,” said Department of Natural Resources Field Operations Manager Keith Kintigh. “It’s exciting to have these opportunities to get folks outdoors and enjoying Michigan’s natural beauty.”

Among the great birding opportunities is the 2016 Warblers on the Water event, celebrating Beaver Island’s unique location and its spectacular birding over the Memorial Day weekend, May 28-29. Guided field trips, demonstrations and presentations will be scheduled on the island, showcasing the Beaver Island Birding Trail. Visit the Beaver Island Birding Trail website to register.

Additional Michigan birding events in April and May include the Whitefish Point Spring Fling in Paradise (April 29 - May 1), the sixth annual Thornapple Woodpecker Festival in Middleville (April 30), the Mackinaw Raptor Fest in Mackinaw City (April 1-2) and the Tawas Point Birding Festival in East Tawas (May 19-22).

Great birding trails throughout the state along well-known driving routes include:

Superior Birding Trail – Michigan’s oldest birding trail, with plenty of birds and other wildlife. The trail includes 14 sites along 145 miles in the Upper Peninsula, from Seney National Wildlife Refuge to Whitefish Point.

North Huron Birding Trail ­– Michigan’s newest birding trail will include stops along the north shoreline of Lake Huron in the Upper Peninsula. The official “launch” of the trail will occur during the second annual Aldo Leopold Festival in the Les Cheneaux region May 13-15.

Sleeping Bear Birding Trail – A 123-mile trail from Manistee to Traverse City, along the scenic M-22 highway and Lake Michigan shoreline. It features more than 35 birding sites, including a “bonus loop.”

Saginaw Bay Birding Trail – This new trail, following the Lake Huron shoreline, is over 140 miles long. It stretches from Port Crescent to Tawas Point State Park and includes more than 20 birding sites.

Sunrise Coast Birding Trail – Soaring along the Lake Huron coast, this trail features more than 28 sites along its approximately 145-mile route from the Au Sable River in Oscoda to Mackinaw City.

“Spring birding has the potential to help tourism in many small communities,” said Kintigh. “Birders are grabbing a meal, getting gasoline, or even staying in a hotel, well before most other tourists have arrived.”

Kintigh added that birding is a great way to enjoy the diversity of Michigan’s wildlife and habitats and to build a true appreciation of all that the state’s unique natural resources have to offer. These trails are made possible through the efforts of, and partnerships with, Michigan Audubon chapters, government agencies, land conservancies, private industries and many dedicated individuals working together to expand opportunities to experience the outdoors and visit local communities.

For more information, visit the Michigan Audubon Society birding trail website or michigan.gov/wildlife.