Annual Impact Report

Annually, we gather information about what we’ve done as an organization to write our Impact Report. We hope to share our accomplishments with our donors, members, partners and all bird lovers. We appreciate everyone who attends and supports our events and programming. We value your commitment to Detroit Audubon, the local environment and all our feathered friends.

Detroit Audubon Impacts

View the 2022 Donor Impact Report here


  • Detroit Audubon was able to hire its first Executive Director, Gretchen Abrams, in more than 30 years. Gretchen has a passion for protecting birds and the environment we share, and she brings a wealth of community engagement and project management experience to our organization. We look forward to doing great things together.
  • We are actively seeking new Board members to help us expand our efforts in our mission to protect birds and the environment we share. We have developed a new application and updated our onboarding process to help secure a diverse and active board that is reflective of the community we serve and supportive of the work we do in SE Michigan.
Keith Salowich from City of Novi presenting on Trees Are For The Birds

Outreach and Education

Creative Connections: Webinars Continue in 2022

  • 12 Webinars in 2022: Christmas Bird Count, How to Help Urban Birds, Bird Collisions & Bird Safe Windows, MI Dark Skies & Bird Migration, Trees Are For The Birds, How to Start Birding Parts 1 & 2, The Great Lakes Way, Autumn Skies- Hawk Migration at Lake Erie Metropark, Providing a Winter Weather Habitat for Birds, Birds on the Brain: Exploring the Cognitive Neuroscience of Birding and Black Tern Conservation at St. Clair Flats. 
  • 900 registrants plus an additional 600 via YouTube. 
  • All webinars are recorded to our YouTube channel; many folks view the webinars after the initial event and share appreciative comments with us.
  • Webinar presenters include our own staff and volunteers as well as Detroit Zoological Society, River Raisin Institute, University of Michigan, City of Novi, Outdoor Adventure Center, Belle Isle Nature Center, Lake Erie Metropark, Wild Birds Unlimited and other volunteer presenters.

Annual Field Trips

  • 140 field trips in 2022, compared with 90 in 2021, with 4858 attendees by the end of 2022. 
  • Field Trips have included monthly Beginner Birders, Elmwood Cemetery & Pointe Mouillee field trips as well as others including: St. Clair River, Downriver Birding Blitz, Belle Isle Birding, Owl Prowl, Kensington Metropark (quarterly), Woodcock Watch, Pheasant Walk, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Frog Symphony, Birding Paddles, Birding Bike Tours and many more.

Newly Established Partnerships, Programs & Field Trips

  • 2022 has us reaching for new opportunities. We reached out to various new partners and are proud of 3 new partner programs in particular:
    • Blacks, Browns & Birds (A Black Birders Week Program)
    • BIPOC Birders of Michigan
    • Birds, Bikes & Wines Tour in Traverse City
  • Our new partnerships included: Black to the Land Coalition, SEMBA, Holliday Nature Preserve Association, Detroit Outdoors, 27 Letter Books, BIPOC Birders of MI, Grand Traverse Audubon Club, Grand Traverse Bike Tours, Friends of the Rouge, Friends of Rouge Park, Outdoor Afro, Xerces, Friends of Rouge Park, InsideOut Literary Arts, Wayne County Parks, Simple Adventures, (The Great Lakes Way, University of Toronto?)
  • New Programs stemming from the success of Detroit Bird City and support from communities around the parks.
    • 12 programs at Detroit Bird City’s Callahan Park through Arboretum Detroit. 
    • 4 programs at Detroit Bird City’s Bryant-Vermont Park through Woodbridge Neighborhood Development. 

Outreach & Educational Programs

  • In 2022, we offered or partnered on various outreach events and reached over 600 children across programs such as: Bird Safe Window Webinar, Owl Prowl, Boxing Club programs, Birdwatchers Garden programs, Girl Scout programs, Circle Forest Programs, Buggin’ Out, Canoe Day, Library programs, virtual class presentations and Outreach Events at Crosswinds Marsh, Palmer Park, Belle Isle, Ford House and Huron-Clinton Metroparks. 
  • We offered 4 educational kids programs in partnership with Birdwatchers Garden this summer. Over the summer months we offered Bird Brains, Bugging Out with Butterflies, Rad Raptors, Busy Bees. 
  • We partnered with Belle Isle Nature Center and the Boxing Club of Detroit to co lead new kids programs. We taught kids about some of our local bird species before taking them on a field trip to Elmwood Cemetery for a guided bird walk where some of them spotted a Red-tailed Hawk and used binoculars for the first time. 
  • Through the website and the Flyway Express, we’ve provided links for teachers, clubs and homeschoolers to online resources, webinars and curricula. 

A Return of our Volunteer & Partner Appreciation Event

Our Volunteer & Partner Appreciation Event was last held in 2019. We worked hard this year to offer it in a safer, Covid-friendly way by hosting it outdoors, at Palmer Park’s Exploration and Nature Center. We invited all our volunteers and partners from the last 3 years to enjoy an afternoon of preplanned programming including: 2 guided bird and wildflower walks, lunch, prizes, awards and 3 separate presenters (Chris Jackson (Black to the Land Coalition), Charlie Ramsey (Detroit Zoological Society) and Ventra Asana). 

The FLYWAY Magazine: A Member Benefit

The Flyway magazine is provided as a benefit to members who donate $30 or more per year. The magazine has been in production since 1946, in various forms. Over the years, we have seen an increase in full chapter members who receive the Flyway Magazine. Volunteers write articles, submit photos, edit, design and collaborate to successfully print the Flyway each quarter. This year, we have seen an increase of more than 30 volunteer photographers who submit their beautiful work to be published in our magazine. To check out previous Flyways click the link here:  

Digital Communications: The Flyway Express

  • This bi-weekly e-newsletter is now a permanent communication method to all constituents with an email address. Since 2021, we have expanded our reach by 1,421 people. The Flyway Express is used to share information about webinars, online resources, field trips, volunteer opportunities, action alerts as well as the new “Egg-citing News” and Conservation Corner sections.
  • In addition to our Flyway Express newsletter, we have also incorporated a monthly reminder to our members about when their membership will be expiring to better help those interested in renewing.

Research and Conservation

Conservation Advocacy

  • DA met with legislators virtually to urge support for Seabird conservation (many Michigan migrants and breeding birds spend part of their life cycle in the marine environment).
  • Sent out action alerts to our members suggesting they contact their congressional representatives and U.S. senators to urge them to support the:
    • North American Grasslands Conservation Act sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet.
    • Recovering America’s Wildlife Act as it passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June and now continues through to Congress.

Long Term Research Focus: Black Terns

  • Our Research Coordinator conducted our 9th summer of research monitoring the Black Tern colony at St Clair Flats in partnership with the Michigan DNR and  Audubon Great Lakes. 
  • 150 hours spent in the field at SCF tracking nests, installing nest cameras and banding Black Terns.
  • We installed eight nest cameras to closely watch Black Tern nests without disturbing or affecting the nests.
  • We met with Leen Heemskerk from the Black Tern working group of gebiedscoöperatie Rijn Vecht and Venen in the Netherlands to learn about their success using platforms and we are planning to test their platform models at SCF in 2023.

Urban Habitat Restoration: Detroit Bird City

  • Detroit Bird City is a multi-year partnership with the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local community groups to transform under-utilized city parks into native wildflower meadows.
  • As of 2022, we have planted 12 acres of meadow at six different parks and we have an additional 13.6 acres to be planted in 2023.
  • Installed a new two acre meadow at Riverside park and expanded the Callahan meadow by 2.5 acres, creating a total of four acres of meadow at Callahan.
  • Over 100 species of birds recorded at Callahan Park by volunteers on eBird.
  • Each Detroit Bird City park  is receiving a variety of pathways, signs, and benches when complete to ensure the parks are welcoming to people as well as birds.

Migration: Great Lakes Safe Passage

  • Great Lakes Safe Passage is a long-term effort to minimize bird building and window collisions. DA continues to advocate for buildings to turn their lights off after 11 pm during migration, and for bird-safe building design. 
  • DA is partnering with Detroit Zoological Society to install bird safe window retrofits to two buildings on the University of Wayne State Campus.
  • DA volunteers continue to record specimens of window strikes (dead birds) on the global community science platform, Bird Mapper, which collects and compiles data to determine which buildings are the most harmful to birds and in need of retrofits.

Data Collection: Bird Surveys 

  • In January and February DA continued our participation with Birds Canada in the Detroit River Important Waterfowl Survey.
  • DA conducted bird surveys and assisted with plant surveys at the Detroit Bird City parks in June and August as part of a greenspace and human health study with Michigan State University.
  • We will continue coordinating the Detroit Audubon and Rockwood Christmas Bird Count this month.

Previous Annual Reports

2021 Annual Impact Report

2019-2020 Annual Impact Report