Cold weather causing confusion for waterfowl

The cold temperatures have had a direct impact on some of northern Michigan's waterfowl.

The cold temperatures have had a direct impact on some of northern Michigan's waterfowl. With no open water they are confused and landing on reflective surfaces, such as roads and parking lots. They're stopping vehicles, including some snowplows in their tracks.

The Traverse City Department of Natural Resources field office has received more than a dozen calls within the past week. People are asking what they should do with these wayward birds.

â??Waterfowl are mistaking these icy surfaces for open water and landing,â?? said Steve Griffith, DNR Wildlife Habitat Biologist.

The reflective surfaces on roads and parking lots look like water to birds, such as the grebe. Those birds are causing the most issues because they need open water to take flight. Mergansers are also mistaking roads or parking lots for water.

â??So you're getting less places for them to actually land and more areas that are looking like open waterâ?¦ people are calling in assuming the bird is injured and typically they're not they're just stranded.â??

Although it may catch some people off guard, the DNR is saying this happens every year.

â??It's a little more common this year with our probably colder temperatures than what we've seen in the past and longer periods.â??

The DNR is not encouraging people to take matters into their own hands, except if you're near a body of water.

â??Use a broom or some other object like that to just shoo the bird or push the bird to open water but we don't want anybody risking their lives as far as going out on ice or anything like that.â??

The DNR also says you can contact a rehabilitator to get the bird off the road safely.

People aren't just coming across this issue in northern Michigan. DNR offices are reporting stranded birds throughout Michigan.

If you see one of these birds in the road youâ??re being encouraged to call the DNR's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-292-7800.