web analytics

Tag Archive | "Michigan Audubon"

Bird Opportunity


By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Join others for a last bird watching opportunity in 2013. Experienced birders will help you identify about 60 species on December 28, during the Christmas Bird Count sponsored by National Audubon, Michigan Audubon, and Grand Rapids Audubon Club.

This is my 27th year coordinating the Kent County event. It’s a time people enjoy seeing birds in their winter nature niches and celebrate the diversity of life that abounds around us. About 60 people gather and divide into small groups that venture to various areas within the count circle. Birds are counted in an area with a 7.5-mile radius surrounding the Honey Creek and Two Mile Roads intersection.

Some are surprised we annually find American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds. They are birds that stay provided berries are found in wetlands. More exciting are winter bird visitors that consider this area a southern wintering ground. Included are the Snowy Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Snow Bunting, Purple Finch, and Common Redpoll. Other remaining here in winter that most of us do not notice are Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and Song Sparrow. I saw a kingfisher here at Ody Brook along Little Cedar Creek last week.

Some winter migrants from the north have arrived indicating count day should be great. A Rough-legged Hawk flew over Ody Brook and I observed a Snow Owl west of here. Two Snow Bunting flocks made an appearance in farm fields.

The local Audubon Club hopes you join the free family activity for part or all day. Previous bird knowledge or experience is not necessary. Join experienced birders and carpool for a great birding experience. Meet at the Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Education Center (WWC) across the street from Lowell High School at 11715 Vergennes Rd on December 28. The WWC is a great facility to visit and see many live mounts of birds displayed or hike a trail. WWC is where I was director during the last years before retiring from fulltime work. I hold Federal and State permits to display birds through the Michigan Audubon Society at Howard Christensen Nature Center and WWC. Plan on visiting either facility if you want to learn identification, size, and postures for birds before count day.

We meet at 7:30 a.m. at WWC, organize into groups and are out birding by 8 a.m. Some people join for the morning and others stay for the day. A hot lunch will be provided for $5 or bring a brown bag lunch. Consider making a donation to support the National Christmas Bird Count. Money donated is sent to the National Audubon and is used to maintain the database for all bird sightings on the continent. Scientists as well as birders can view the data online. It is used to monitor population changes from year to year. This is the 116th year for the Audubon Count.

Come dressed in layers that can be removed or added as temperature changes. We are in and out of cars at many locations. Bring binoculars and bird books if you have them. People will share if you do not. It is best to call me ahead of time (616-696-1753) if you plan to participate but just showing up is fine. I can answer questions you might have about count day activities.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Young Birders Club


 

The interest of young bird enthusiast Sarah Toner helped initiate the 2013 establishment of the Michigan Young Birders Club. Wendy Tatar, program coordinator with the Michigan Audubon, had been working to bring life to the program in Michigan when Sarah’s interest in the program jelled with Audubon’s.

The program is led by young birders with a focus on inspiring and educating middle and high school ages 12–18 about birds and conservation. Adult sponsors help with program scheduling and division of tasks but youth direct activities toward their interests.

I just presented a lecture at a local university where a young freshman new to college talked with me about birds. He was well aware of e-bird and mich-listers and the ease of tracking bird sightings in real time so people can find unusual birds. Another young man from Sand Lake attended the lecture where he introduced himself and said he lives five miles from the Howard Christensen Nature Center. He explores the natural world there. This past weekend two friends contacted me for the purpose of taking a field trip to see species that are not commonly found in Michigan. We headed out to locate a Little Gull and a Red Phalarope.

We found the Red Phalarope but did not locate the Little Gull. Check your field guides or internet to learn about these two species. Of interest here is a young birder we found searching for the birds. He had seen internet postings and was searching on his own. I introduced myself and immediately he told me about a Sanderling searching for food among the rocks along the shoreline. I let him look through my spotting scope at a Great Black-backed Gull that was nestled among Ring-billed Gulls.

It would be nice to have a Young Birders Club in this area where youth of common interest could get together with peers. I suspect the Grand Rapids Audubon, Muskegon Nature Club, or other area Audubon clubs would be supportive and help youth with club activities. I was in tenth grade when I joined the Saginaw Audubon Club and began a life long journey of bird study for fun and fulfillment. Like the young man at the beach, I had not connected with others my age that shared a common interest.

Today connecting with others through the internet makes it easy to learn about birds and their locations. Adult supervision should assist to offer guidance and safety. Young people might gather with others of common interest as seen with flash mobs but it would be good to have club organization and adults from the community present for support and direction. Bird enthusiasts have their own flash mob gatherings at locations where interesting birds are reported. It is a new age for club gathering opportunities but interaction with knowledgeable mentors for youth is important. My life is better for the guidance offered by adults at youth organizations to support my development. Encourage youth to invest in their lives to make them rich in experience.

The Michigan Young Birders Club will help youth discover bird nature niches. Learn more at www.michiganaudubon.org/about/mybc.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

 

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Michigan Audubon helps conserve Cerulean Warblers


Habitat loss contributes to Cerulean Warbler decline in Michigan. Photo by Daniel Behm, courtesy of Michigan Audubon Society.

Habitat loss contributes to Cerulean Warbler decline in Michigan. Photo by Daniel Behm, courtesy of Michigan Audubon Society.

The Cerulean Warbler was once one of the most abundant breeding warblers in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys; now it is one of North America’s fastest declining songbirds. Since 1966, the Cerulean Warbler population has decreased by almost 70 percent.

Michigan is part of the warbler’s northernmost breeding range with the largest state numbers concentrated in the Allegan State Game Area. The annual decline in ceruleans in Michigan at 4.3 percent is higher than the range-wide decline of three percent. The culprit for such a severe Cerulean Warbler population decrease in Michigan is habitat loss and fragmentation.

The Cerulean Warbler prefers a breeding habitat of 3,000 hectares or greater of mature deciduous trees situated near a river system. The small warbler, which is colored sky blue with streaks of white and black, spends most of its time in the upper canopy foraging for insects. The Cerulean Warbler’s color and preference for breeding high in the forest canopy make it an elusive bird for birdwatchers and scientists. As of 2009, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources lists the Cerulean Warbler as a State Threatened species.

Current research lists six primary threats to the Cerulean Warbler’s breeding territory which includes: loss of mature deciduous forests, fragmentation of deciduous forests, emphasis on even-aged forest management and shorter harvest rotation periods, environmental degradation, loss of key tree species and nest parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird. The United States Geological Survey indicates if nothing is done to protect the Cerulean Warbler by 2046, the Allegan State Game Area population could become ecologically extinct.

With that information in hand, Michigan Audubon set out to make a positive impact on this threatened warbler. In 2012, Michigan Audubon hired its first Cerulean Warbler monitor who surveyed Allegan, Barry, Jackson and Washtenaw counties. Now with the second year of monitoring complete, over 2,000 checklists have been submitted to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology via the citizen science tool, www.ebird.org, in association with the Cerulean Warbler monitoring project.

The checklists submitted have helped create a more accurate metric allowing the comparison of the number of birds heard per hour while birdwatching. For example, statewide, 9.6 Cerulean Warblers are heard per hour of birdwatching, compared to 6.5 Sandhill Cranes and 30.2 Canada Goose heard per hour.

“We are frequently asked ‘How many Cerulean Warblers are there at Location X?’” says Tom Funke, Michigan Audubon’s Conservation Director. “It is important to keep in mind that this monitoring project does not count each individual bird, but rather collects a sampling of the bird in a certain area year after year. This type of data collection will help identify trends over a long period of time and provide ornithologists and biologists better insights into Cerulean Warbler breeding populations.”

Conservation action plans have recently been implemented and include activities such as mapping wintering, migratory and breeding ranges, and preventing permanent loss of large forest habitats in the birds’ breeding range. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management states, “An over-riding need (…) is continued research to help fill critical information gaps in our knowledge of this species and monitoring of [the Cerulean Warbler’s] response to conservation actions.”

Although it is too early to distinguish any type of trend from Michigan Audubon’s Cerulean Warbler monitoring project, efforts are in line with all other conservation groups involved in the warbler’s survival, with a bottom line to permanently remove the bird from state and federal lists.

For additional information or photos to use with this announcement, contact Michigan Audubon’s, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Mallory King at mallory@michiganaudubon.org or 517-641-4277.

 

 

 

Posted in Featured, OutdoorsComments Off


advert

LOCAL Advertisers

Tri County Body Shop

Get the Cedar Springs Post in your mailbox for only $35.00 a year!