Mourning Dove 9. Fish Point
Northern Harrier 2
Ring Billed Gull 45
Red Tailed Hawk 2
Common Grackle 750+
Blue Winged Teal 1
Canada Geese 1000+
Black Duck 13
Common Merganser 38
Ring-necked Duck 18
Greater Scaup 12
Red Winged Black Bird 250
Tree Sparrows 34
Sandhill Cranes 14
Green Winged Teal 6
Hooded Merganser 2
Tundra Swan 8
Horned Lark 4
American Widgeon 18
Fish Point, TU
Summary/Report by David Peters:
Mild climatic conditions prevailed in the SBA throughout the winter of 2015- 2016. As illustrated in the graphs at the end of this report, daily temperatures were above average for most of December. As a result, the majority of waters remained unfrozen into January. Temperatures in the middle month were a little closer to average, but in neither of the first two months did any significant snow events occur in the southern SBA. Temperatures returned to above average in February. The only two major storms of the winter were in this final month of the season. They occurred just a week apart, but due to some unseasonably high daytime temperatures in between, the snow accumulation from the first storm had to varying extents melted by the second storm event.
There is little doubt that the mild climate contributed to a record number of species being tallied during the season, with a total of 128 species from the Michigan Bird List reported. This report lists all of the species reported, along with the highest reported individual count for each, and a list of the SBA counties in which each was noted. Per the state compiler’s request, all Trumpeter Swan records are listed.
Mild weather in the first and last month of the season lead to a good number of birds lingering late and arriving early. The mild climate and relative abundance of birds to be encountered likely contributed to the thorough observer coverage that prevailed, and an impressively lengthy list of observers. Speaking of observers, the number of active birders, and the ability nowadays for them to report sightings on readily accessible databases (SBB.org, eBird), must also be considered, alongside the effects of a changing climate, as contributing to the fact that the total species recorded this season was also the thirteenth consecutive winter of an above average total.
This winter’s record total was not only the result of lingering birds, but a fair amount of winter visitors were present as well, in decent numbers and quite widespread in distribution. Two new SBA peak counts were established, as well as three new fall late dates, and one existing fall late date was tied.
Click here for the detailed report.
March 22, 2016 A Wildflower Big Year
Michael LeValley set out on a “Wildflower Big Year”. This program details his search to photograph as many wildflowers that he could find in one growing season in Mt. Pleasant’s park system. LeValley is the Education Coordinator for the Isabella Conservation District, a member of Chippewa Valley Audubon Society, and the Mid-Mitten chapter of Wild Ones.
This meeting of the Saginaw Valley Audubon Society is open to the public, at 7:00pm at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center in Saginaw. For more information contact Larry Abraham at 989-777-4787.
It was just shared this past week that American White Pelicans were discovered nesting on Charity Islands by Dr. Keith Grasman, Biology Professor at Calvin College. His bio reads, "Dr. Grasman studies the effects of environmental pollutants on the health of fish eating birds - gulls, terns and herons of the Great Lakes and loons in the Adirondack Mountains. Funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wildlife Conservation Society."
Dr. Grasman emailed Shiawassee NWR staff to report his finding along with images of his discovery. He wrote, "Little Charity Island - In 2015 we saw several adult pelicans on or around the east spit or in the water on the north side of the island on 2 June and 21-22 July. However, we did not encounter any nests on the island until our last visit on 28 July (to work on the chicks of the Caspian terns that re-nested after the seiche event of 30-31 May). After we were done with the Caspians we thought that this would be a good time for a quick tour of the island since the gulls, cormorants, egrets and herons were all past fledging. As we approached the northwest side of the island we saw 6 adult pelicans swimming in a small embayment. That prompted me to investigate the beach of the bay, and sure enough we found 6 pelican nests clustered around some bushes. There were 5 chicks ranging in age from 1-4 weeks (by my best estimate), and 2 unhatched eggs. - Keith Grasman
To my knowledge, this is the furthest east that American White Pelicans have nested. The following images were taken by Dr. Grasman and/or staff. Amazing discovery! J. Soehnel
The following in an excerpt from the first Project SNOWSTORM blog of the season. As there have been at least three reports reported in the Saginaw Bay Area, this article is timely for birders to be aware of a potential good year, once again, for a Snowy Owl invasion.
Good Snowy Owling!
"Welcome back to Project SNOWSTORM. Our last update was back in early May, when only one of our tagged snowy owls was still far enough south to be in cell range. That bird, Chippewa, headed north around May 1, and since then all’s been quiet, as the snowies returned to the Arctic breeding grounds.
We’ve been busy since then — in fact, Oct. 14-15 we convened a meeting of many of Project SNOWstorm’s collaborators in Cape May, NJ, hosted by New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory."
Click here for complete Project SNOWSTORM article.
Survey/Summary compiled and written by David Peters...
Summary: A total of 201 species from the Michigan Bird List were reported in the Saginaw Bay Area this summer. While this falls short of last summer’s all-time record, it is still well above the 25 year seasonal average of 185.5. This report lists each of the species reported, along with the highest reported individual count(s) for each, and a list of the SBA counties in which each was noted. Last departure dates and first arrival dates are listed for species that aren’t present during the breeding season. Observer coverage was on the low side this summer, particularly in Arenac and Tuscola Counties. The total number of observers was off a bit as well. Four Michigan Review List species were reported, and 75% of these were captured for posterity with digital images. How things have changed with the advent of digital cameras and accessories! One new SBA peak count was established, for Indigo Bunting, in early July none the less, a nice illustration of this species’ preference for continuing to sing strongly well into the summer. It is always a welcome event for this compiler to receive notes about the bird habitat that prevailed during the season. Dan Duso wrote that excellent wetland bird habitat emerged at Bay City SRA this summer. Continuing on a theme from the summary of this spring’s report, this situation is an excellent example of the importance of publicly-owned land to bird conservation. Climatically, the season was, as one observer described, “…pleasant…” Temperatures were seldom above or below the mean deviation, and there were no new all-time high or low records. Precipitation-wise, there was at least a trace most weeks, and with a 1.5” - 2” rainfall event in both months, it was not at all a dry summer.
Click here to view the complete report!
Compiled/Written by: David Peters
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!
The North American Breeding Bird Survey is an annual spring survey that’s been going on since the 1960s and is one of the few robust scientific studies that lets us monitor trends in our breeding birds. Since the beginning, the survey has depended on skilled, experienced birders to collect data – and that data has been pivotal in spotting species in decline and at risk and in prioritizing habitat conservation decisions. Surveys are conducted at predetermined locations along a driving route and don’t require any sort of strenuous activity.
There are still 9 survey routes in Michigan that need volunteers. You can use the link below to see a map of the routes, but the open routes are:
For more information about the survey or to volunteer for a route, please contact Katie Koch, the Michigan BBS coordinator, at Katie_kock@fws.gov or 906-226-1249.
Karen T. Cleveland
Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources
525 W. Allegan St./PO Box 30444
Lansing, MI 48909
Compiled/Written by: David Peters, Shiawassee NWR Staff Member
Summary: 115 species from the Michigan Bird List were reported in the Saginaw Bay Area this season. This figure is well above the 26 year average of 107, and represents the twelfth consecutive winter of an above average total. This report lists all of the species reported, plus one hybrid, along with the highest reported individual count for each, and a list of the SBA counties in which each was noted. Per the state compiler’s request, all Trumpeter Swan records are listed.
The temperature this winter started out low to average, then it moved into the above average for much of December, the pitched backed down at the end of the month. And down is where it stayed, as the first two months of 2105 in Saginaw saw above freezing temperatures on just two days, both in January. February highs and lows were persistently below average.
Overall, Christmas Bird Counts in the SBA were well attended, and resulted in several records that likely would have otherwise gone unreported. There were two new fall late dates set, and an equal number of new peak counts. For the second straight winter gulls were more or less absent from the Saginaw River. Also in the more or less absent category were Eastern Bluebirds. Similar to last winter, Snowy Owls were once again widespread and even abundant in select locations. So, too, were Rough-legged Hawks. There was no lack of hanging fruit going into the winter, and in the end, supply exceeded the demand.
Presumably due to the below average temperatures, there was no widespread atypical overwintering on a species wide basis, but one or two hardy individuals from numerous species did remain through the entire period. While glaringly low in peak numbers this winter, Bald Eagles are now routinely widespread throughout the SBA in the season, presumably due to sufficient supply of white-tailed deer carcasses.
Click HERE for complete report!
Saginaw Valley Audubon Society Meeting
March 24th @ 7:00 P.M.
Green Point Environmental Learning Center, Saginaw
Tanya O'Conner, a rehabilitator, has been rescuing parrots and finding new homes for them for over 23 years. She will explain about caring for them, their diseases, and the need to think twice before adopting a parrot into your home since it is a long term commitment of many years.
She will bring live birds - African Gray parrot, Hyacinth Macaw, other macaws, a conure, and a toucan.
For more information, contact Larry Abraham email@example.com