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Tag Archive | "Falcons"

Nongame Wildlife Fund helps aid comeback success stories


 

Most of us recognize the American robin. With its cheery song bringing a welcome sign of spring, these red-breasted birds are a common sight in Michigan; so familiar and appreciated, in fact, that the robin was named the state bird in 1931.

But there was a time after World War II when robins had become less common due to the damaging effects of DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) and other pesticides.

Fortunately, robin populations bounced back after DDT use was banned in the United State in 1972. However, many other nongame species—meaning wildlife that isn’t hunted—have needed, and continue to need, help to protect them from becoming rare or even extinct. That’s where the Nongame Wildlife Fund comes in.

Mechanics and administration

The fund, which is coordinated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division, assists with the division’s goals by identifying, protecting, managing and restoring Michigan’s biological diversity.

The Nongame Wildlife Fund is responsible for initiating, developing and implementing critical projects vital to the needs of Michigan’s endangered, threatened and nongame animals, plants and their habitats.

Since its inception, the Nongame Wildlife Fund has raised nearly $24 million in support of critical projects for nongame species, which includes more than 80 percent of Michigan’s wildlife.

“The fund aims not only to restore populations of endangered and threatened species but to maintain present populations of animals and plants and to promote appreciation of Michigan’s nongame wildlife,” said Hannah Schauer, a DNR wildlife technician.

Funds have been raised for these important management efforts through voluntary check-off contributions on state income tax forms (the check-off ended when the fund reached $6 million, as dictated by state law), sales of the wildlife habitat specialty license plates and direct donations.

Another component of this approach has been the Living Resources Patch program. Proceeds from the sale of these patches also are directed to the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

For more than 40 years, the patch program has raised awareness of Michigan’s nongame wildlife species. The 2016-2017 Living Resources Patch, which will be the final one issued in the series, features the American robin.

“The state bird seemed fitting for the final patch, since 2016 is also the centennial for the Migratory Bird Treaty, which has benefited the robin, as well as many other nongame bird species,” Schauer said.

American robin patches, along with several previous years’ patches, are available for purchase on the Michigan e-store website.

Kirtland’s warbler

The effort to bolster Michigan’s nongame wildlife has yielded some notable progress over the last few decades.

One of the most significant success stories—and one that’s unique to Michigan—stars a rare songbird called the Kirtland’s warbler, one of the original species to be listed as part of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Visitors come from all over the world to see these birds, which nest in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, a few sites in Wisconsin and Ontario, and nowhere else on Earth.

The DNR and many partners manage the specific type of jack pine habitat that the Kirtland’s warbler requires by logging, burning, seeding and replanting on a rotational basis.

Trees aren’t cut down until they’re mature and large enough to be economically valuable, which helps maintain nesting habitat for the warblers while supporting the commercial harvest of jack pine.

Several million jack pine seedlings are planted each year. The birds have specific nesting requirements which include reliance on young jack pine trees.

“The population of the rarest warbler in North America has increased dramatically through management and protection of more than 150,000 acres of jack pine habitat in Michigan,” said Dan Kennedy, DNR threatened and endangered species specialist.

The annual Kirtland’s warbler census, which tallies the number of singing males, has shown a significant increase in the species’ population over the last 40 years, from approximately 200 singing males in 1972 to 2,300 this year.

“The recovery of the Kirtland’s warbler is a real success story for endangered species management,” Kennedy said. “This conservation effort has benefited Michigan’s economy, including jobs associated with tourism and timber products, and helped conserve our biological legacy.”

Michigan’s osprey population, once threatened, is making a comeback with support from the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

Michigan’s osprey population, once threatened, is making a comeback with support from the Nongame Wildlife Fund.

Osprey

Many of Michigan’s nongame wildlife conservation victories involve birds, more specifically birds of prey. One notable example is the osprey.

Once nearly absent from much of Michigan due to the effects of DDT, other pesticides and habitat loss, Michigan’s osprey population is making a comeback thanks in part to the DNR’s osprey reintroduction program.

Started in 2008 and supported by the Nongame Wildlife Fund, this reintroduction program removed chicks from active nests in northern Michigan and reared them in man-made towers in southern Michigan, a process called “hacking.”

In 2015, at least 60 active nests were identified in southern Michigan – a substantial increase from the single active nest reported in 2002.

“Each year we have new nests, and we have already exceeded our original goal of 30 active nests by 2020,” said Julie Oakes, a DNR wildlife biologist. “We have been able to remove ospreys from the threatened species list to a species of special concern and restore their numbers in Michigan.”

The DNR and several partner organizations monitor the revitalization of this species by outfitting osprey chicks with “backpack” GPS telemetry units and tracking their movements and migration patterns.

Anyone can follow along and find out where the birds have been by looking at the Michigan Osprey website, www.michiganosprey.org.

Falcons and eagles

Peregrine falcons, which had been virtually eradicated from eastern North America at one time, today are successfully nesting atop places like urban buildings and bridges.

Peregrine falcons, which had been virtually eradicated from eastern North America at one time, today are successfully nesting atop places like urban buildings and bridges.

Peregrine falcons and bald eagles—two other birds of prey whose populations were decimated by pesticides—also are on the upswing as a result of similar conservation efforts.

Peregrines, virtually eradicated from eastern North America by the middle of the 20th century, today are successfully nesting in urban centers of southern Michigan, on the most iconic bridges across the state and along the Upper Peninsula’s rocky Lake Superior shoreline.

In 2015, biologists recorded 33 active peregrine nests, which produced 73 wild chicks.

The bald eagle’s numbers declined dramatically in the 1950s and 1960s until there were fewer than 1,000 nesting eagles remaining in the U.S. by 1963. Today, the species has recovered to a point where its existence is no longer imperiled.

With over 800 active eagle nests in Michigan, eagles can be found in almost all of the state’s 83 counties.

Moose

 In an operation known as the “moose lift” in the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose via helicopter from Ontario, Canada, to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

In an operation known as the “moose lift” in the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose via helicopter from Ontario, Canada, to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

“Most of the mammal successes have been so successful that we have seasons on them: marten, fisher, deer and elk,” said Chris Hoving, adaptation specialist with the DNR Wildlife Division. “At one time, they were nongame, or at least not hunted.”

Although moose are not an example of a species that has rebounded to the point where it can be hunted, one memorable nongame endeavor was the reintroduction of the species to Michigan in the Upper Peninsula.

Native to Michigan, moose disappeared from the Lower Peninsula in the 1890s and only a few scattered individuals remained in the Upper Peninsula.

In the mid-1980s, the DNR translocated 59 moose—using helicopters, in an operation remembered as the “moose lift”—from Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, and released them in Marquette County.

A 2016 moose population survey estimates a population of 323 moose in the western U.P.

Reptiles and amphibians

As for reptiles and amphibians, collectively known as herpetofauna or “herps,” ongoing projects include the Michigan Herp Atlas, which aims to collect data about Michigan’s native amphibians and reptiles in order to document their distribution and changes in their populations statewide, and the annual spring volunteer frog and toad survey.

“We have collected a large, valuable data set to help us evaluate Michigan’s frog and toad populations,” said DNR nongame wildlife biologist Lori Sargent. “We’re now able to start watching trends and thinking about how to slow down some of the species’ declines and, hopefully, increase awareness of their plight so that conservation efforts will be enacted in the future.”

Distinctions

Schauer said it’s important to remember that not all nongame animals are threatened or endangered species, or even species of special concern.

“Nongame also includes animals that aren’t harvested but aren’t necessarily listed as special concern, threatened or endangered—a good example of that would be the American robin,” she said. “One of the primary goals of the Nongame Wildlife Fund is to keep these common species common.”

Pitch in

Want to help Michigan’s nongame wildlife? There are several ways to contribute: by purchasing a wildlife habitat license plate or Living Resources patch or by making a tax-deductible donation.

Learn more about the Nongame Wildlife Fund at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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Birds and bridges: Falcons banded at two Upper Peninsula sites


 

As an angry adult falcon swoops in, from left, DNR wildlife technicians Caleb Eckloff and Brad Johnson and DNR biologist John Depue work to remove peregrine falcon chicks from a nest box on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

As an angry adult falcon swoops in, from left, DNR wildlife technicians Caleb Eckloff and Brad Johnson and DNR biologist John Depue work to remove peregrine falcon chicks from a nest box on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

It’s been a good season for Upper Peninsula bridges and their resident raptors, with peregrine falcons at the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge successfully hatching three chicks and the Portage Lake Lift Bridge between Houghton and Hancock seeing four hatchlings this spring.

At the Portage Lake Lift Bridge, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) installed two nest boxes in 2012, one each on the north and south bridge towers. A pair of falcons discovered the nesting site the next spring and has raised a total of 10 chicks there.

MDOT took precautions to shield the lift bridge nesting boxes from construction work—an $8.4 million upgrade and preventive maintenance project started in late 2014 and just wrapped up this spring. Screens were placed to keep the falcons from seeing workers in the bridge machinery rooms and efforts were made to minimize disturbances in the nest area. During construction, a webcam, viewable at http://pasty.com/nestbox.html, was also installed in cooperation with the Copper Country Audubon Society to allow people to watch nesting activity.

As DNR wildlife technician Caleb Eckloff looks on, DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson holds a peregrine falcon chick during the banding process at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

As DNR wildlife technician Caleb Eckloff looks on, DNR wildlife technician Brad Johnson holds a peregrine falcon chick during the banding process at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on June 17. (MDOT photo)

On the eastern end of the U.P., Karl Hansen, bridge engineer for the International Bridge Administration (IBA), reported that a pair of peregrine falcons successfully nested atop the bridge between the U.S. and Canada this spring, hatching three chicks.

The hatching is the culmination of an ongoing commitment by the IBA. Nest boxes for the peregrines have been installed since 2010 on both the U.S. and Canadian arches. Peregrines have been active at the International Bridge since 1999 but, before the nest boxes were installed, the falcons laid their eggs in gravel on the exposed pier top and there were unfortunate instances of eggs and chicks being blown off.

The same pair of adults has been returning to the U.S. side nest each year but, so far, none have taken up residence in the nest box at the Canadian arch. Hansen has counted 20 chicks hatched out of the nest boxes since they were installed.

The chicks at the Lift Bridge were banded by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) team on June 17, while the International Bridge birds were banded by a team on June 20. According to DNR wildlife biologist Kristie Sitar, color-coded bands attached to the legs of young birds allow scientists to track the movements, reproductive behavior and population growth of the falcons. DNR biologists have yet to confirm that birds banded at either bridge have gone on to breed elsewhere, but that’s not unusual.

“There are no records of where fledged birds from (the IBA) site have gone but that doesn’t mean they aren’t breeding someplace,” Sitar said of the IBA birds. “Oftentimes, birds aren’t uniquely identified at new sites for a few years.”

In addition to their leg bands, the peregrine chicks received names. Names are typically assigned by DNR and bridge staff involved in the banding. At the IBA, names were chosen to honor the struggles of current and former colleagues battling cancer. The males were called Jim and Cameron, while the lone female was named Cheryn. At the Lift Bridge, DNR and bridge staff chose to name the females Lynn and Spunky, while the males were dubbed Edgar and Scottie. The new peregrines at both bridges should be ready to leave the nest in another few weeks.

The peregrine falcon has been removed from the federal endangered species list, but is listed as an endangered species in Michigan, protected by state and federal law. Peregrines have adapted to city habitats, nesting on tall buildings, smokestacks and bridges around the world. Studies have found the birds in this region tend not to nest in the same area where they were hatched, but spread out across the Midwest.

Every nesting site is special. In 2015, there were only 34 active nest sites in the entire state, with 29 of them on artificial structures. Only two of the five natural sites were accessible for banding birds this year, so having boxes on accessible structures like the Lift Bridge and International Bridge helps the DNR follow the raptor’s comeback.

High-speed hunters capable of flying at 200 mph, the peregrines may help keep populations of nuisance pigeons under control. While researchers have found pigeons make up a relatively small portion of the falcon diet, the dangerous predators may play a role in frightening them away from bridges. Keeping pigeons away is seen as potentially saving MDOT and the IBA maintenance money down the line, as pigeon droppings can damage paint on metal bridge surfaces.

 

Fast facts:

  • A pair of peregrine falcons has successfully nested on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge again this year after completion of a major bridge repair project.
  • Another pair of the endangered falcons successfully nested on the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, where the birds have been returning for years.
  • The DNR banded four chicks at the Portage Lake Lift Bridge and three at the International Bridge.

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Red Hawks lose to Falcons


Prepare for pink game this Friday

By Kendra Coons 

The Red Hawks suffered a tough loss to West Catholic last Friday night. Photo by Kelly Alvesteffer.

The Red Hawks suffered a tough loss to West Catholic last Friday night. Photo by Kelly Alvesteffer.

On Friday, October 11, the Varsity football team went up against West Catholic at Red Hawk stadium for their annual Homecoming game. The Hawks came out strong, but ended up losing to the Falcons 36-14. This loss now makes their record 3-4 in overall play and 1-2 in conference play. The Red Hawks are now no longer in the running for the playoffs.
In the first quarter, with 12 seconds into the game, the Hawks very own Junior Mavrick Cotten ran up the middle for a 65-yard touchdown. Kaden Myers then passed to Senior Cameron Link for a two-point conversion. At the end of the first quarter the score was 8-0 with the Red Hawks in the lead.

In the second quarter, West Catholic’s Travis Russel passed to Brad Burns for a 23-yard touchdown. They added a two-point conversion, which tied up the game at 8-8. Cedar Springs scored again when senior quarterback Austin Hilyer passed to senior Cameron Link for an 8-yard touchdown. The Hawks tried for the two-point conversion, but it was no good. At the end of the first half the Hawks were in the lead 14-8.

In the third quarter West Catholic came out strong by scoring 3 touchdowns in 4 minutes. Travis Russel passed to David Banuck for a 15-yard touchdown and passed to Brad Burns for a 48-yard touchdown. Lasavian Majewski also ran the ball for a 38-yard touchdown. All three kicks by Travis Hoving were good. At the end of the third quarter, the Falcons took the lead 29-14.

In the fourth quarter West Catholic scored another touchdown by Andy Corey running for a 3-yard touchdown and the kick by Travis Hoving was good. At the end of the game the final score was 36-14 in favor of West Catholic.

“I feel we played well, but just not good enough to win,” commented Red Hawk Coach Gus Kapolka. “It was a hard fought game and [West Catholic] made more plays in the second half to win.”

On Friday, October 18, the Varsity team matches up at home against the Huskies of Forest Hills Northern The game will be played at Red Hawk Stadium and it is the annual “Pink Game” to honor breast cancer survivors and victims. It is also the team’s last home game of the season.

“[The Pink game] is for a good cause and the boys feel honored and privileged to be a part of it,” said Kapolka.

Come out and support your Cedar Springs Red Hawks as they play in their last home game of the season! The game starts at 7, so please be there to cheer on the team and don’t forget to wear pink!

 

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JV Red Hawks fall to West Catholic


By Kendra Coons 

S-Football-JV

On Thursday, October 10, the Cedar Springs JV football team went up against West Catholic at Falcon stadium. West Catholic took the win, 40-30 over the Red Hawks. The JV team’s overall record is now 5-2 and 2-1 in conference play.

On offense, the team’s quarterback, Collin Alvesteffer, had 11 carries, 71 rushing yards, 71 passing yards, and also scored one touchdown. Keenan Gosselin had 14 carries, 52 rushing yards, three touchdowns and one two-point conversion. Isiah MacDonald had 8 carries, and 29 rushing yards. Bryan Cebrero had 6 carries, and 52 rushing yards. And, Anthony Topolski had 17 carries, 157 rushing yards, one touchdown, and 2 two-point conversions.

On defense, Collin Alvesteffer led the team in tackles with a total of 8. Coming in close behind him with 7 was Anthony Topolski. Lane Gott came in with 6, and DaMarcus Barnett had 5.

“As a team we felt like we had a good game plan coming into the game, but in the end it came down to who made the least amount of mistakes,” said Coach James Streeter.

On Thursday, October 17, the Hawks take on Forest Hills Northern at Husky Stadium. With 2 conference games left, the games are on the line for the JV Red Hawks.

“As a team with a lot of new faces, we’re still working on finding our identity, but we’re looking forward to finishing strong,” commented Streeter.

The game starts at 6:30 p.m. Come out and support your Red Hawks as they play their last away game of the season!

 

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Varsity soccer team racks up two more wins


Kyle Szirovecz (18) and Robert Klein (13) jump for a corner-kicked ball vs. West Catholic. Also pictured are Dontae Ensley (8) and Brandon Goodenough (15).

On Tuesday, October 11, the Cedar Springs Red Hawks hosted the West Catholic Falcons. Aaron Dault lit up the scoreboard when he blasted a rocket ball into the net just below the cross bars (23:43). Shortly after, Ilan Caballero was positioned at the back door of the net and knocked in a ball crossed over from Kyle Szirovecz. (15:09). The final goal of the game came late into the second half, when Robert Klein sliced the ball past the keeper (9:10). West Catholic offense was suffocated and they went home empty due to the fact that Cedar dominated the ball on both ends of the field. Cedar’s defense demonstrated a unified effort consisting of Dontae Ensley, Aaron Dault, Bryan Taylor, and Trevor Rose and keeper Kyle Coutchie. The final score ended with a Cedar Springs shut-out victory of 3-0.
On Thursday, October 13, Cedar Springs closed OK-Blue Conference play against their rival neighbors to the west, the Sparta Spartans. The Red Hawks took an early command of the game when Kyle Szirovecz drilled the ball past the goaltender, with an assist from Robert Klein (21:34). Minutes later, Robert Klein knocked in another goal sent to him by

Aaron Dault (7) jumps to head the ball vs. West Catholic. Also pictured Jon Shaw (20), Mitch Hanmer (11), Ilan Caballero (19).

Kyle Szirovecz (14:07). Szirovecz was credited for the third goal of the match, giving the Red Hawks a comfortable lead of 3 to 0. A minute before the halftime buzzer, Sparta was granted a free kick, opening an opportunity to sneak a shot in, snatching the ball from the grasp of goalkeeper, Kyle Coutchie, making the score 3 to 1 at the half. Heavy rain began to fall as second half play resumed, creating challenging conditions for the players. Sparta benefited from this when a shot on goal slipped through Coutchie’s gloves and into the net. This unfortunate event fired up the Red Hawk squad and the team went to work to shut down the Spartans and closed out the game with a 3-2 victory. Special acknowledgment goes out to the reserve members of the Cedar Springs team for their strong team efforts and supportive play exhibited throughout the season. They are as follows: Kyle Longcore, Parker Selleck, Brandon Goodenough, Tyler Aungst, and Santiago Quiroga. Red Hawks end their OK-Conference schedule with a 9 win-3 loss record and an overall season record of 12-5. Great playing guys and good luck in districts! The soccer teams appreciated all of the fan support during this season!

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