A total of 263 species from the Michigan Bird List were reported in the Saginaw Bay Area this spring, the second highest total since the Birds in the SBA compilation was initiated. This report lists each of these species, along with the highest reported individual count(s) for each, and a list of the SBA counties in which each was noted. First dates are listed for species not recorded in the preceding February, and last dates for (most of) the species that don’t remain into the summer. Five new SBA peak counts were established, as well as one new SBA spring early date. Five Michigan Review List species were reported.
The unusual cold of winter carried into spring, and water and earth were slow to thaw. Several species (such as blackbirds), which usually have individuals arrive in late February, had their first appearances in March this year. After the slow start, it appeared that migration caught-up with normal. In fact, based just on the reports received of last dates for songbirds that pass through late but don’t breed in the SBA, it looks as if their migration actually ended a bit sooner than normal. There were a couple of the fabulous songbird fall-outs that TPSP is noted for, as well as some really nice offshore waterfowl counts at TPSP, which haven’t been routinely since the days of Ron Weeks. Several relatively massive passerine migration counts along the Huron Co shoreline were reported. It was way back during the Mershon Expedition in the early 1900’s, that this Thumb shoreline phenomenon was first recorded.
Overall, the total numbers of observers contributing to this report, (most through postings on SBB.org), increased this year, and total coverage was better than average. If one reviews the compilation, it is clear just how much of the SBA’s birdlife and birding is dependent on public ownership and management. Locations such as Nayanquing Point SWA, Fish Point SWA, Deford SGA, Rush Lake SGA, Verona SGA, Shiawassee NWR, Tawas Point SP, AuSable SF, Pinconning Park, Port Crescent SP, Wigwam Bay SWA and numerous others account for the significant majority of SBA bird habitat, habitat that at least in part, is open to birders. This is not just a factor of their accessibility to birders. The vast amount of private land in the SBA is dedicated to farming, business, and residential use, not birds. While these situations do not exclude birds, they are by-and-large of far lower benefit to birds than natural habitats are. They are also (with few exceptions) off-limits to birders, and importantly, they are threatened with any number of land use initiatives that can negatively affect future SBA birdlife.
Bottom line…if public lands like those noted frequently in this report did not exist, this report, and SBA birding itself, would be pretty lousy. So support the protection, management, and expansion of public lands in the SBA, and as always, speak up when SBA birdlife is threatened.
Click here to view the entire summary for Spring 2015!