Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meetings for Winter/Spring 2010

The Grosse Pointe Audubon meeting schedule is set for the winter/spring of 2010. Here's the lineup:

Jan. 25—Richard Wolinski presents, "Purple Martin Life History and Managing Purple Martin Colonies." This program is an introduction to how the martin makes its living while on the wing in North America. Wolinski will discuss the martin's travels, foraging behavior, nesting habits, and how humans and martins interact. Basic information on attracting and keeping martins is provided for those attempting to attract martins for the first time and those wishing to grow their colonies and manage them more effectively.

Feb. 22—"The Uncommon Loon." Jeff Lange, all the way from Petoskey, filmed and produced a film that follows a northern Michigan loon family throughout the nesting season. Jeff will narrate the film and answer questions afterward.

March 15—Mike Fitzpatrick presents, “A Closer Look at Whitefish Point.”

April 19—Pamela Rasmussen, curator of mammalogy and ornithology at Michigan State University Museum, with a program to be announced. Even though this sounds vague, this is a program not to be missed. Rasmussen is a heavyweight in the world of ornithology. She's an expert on the birds of southern Asia, but more importantly she is a first-class sleuth, whose skills helped expose one of the biggest ornithological frauds of the 20th century.

And plan now to attend our annual field trip to Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, Mich., on Saturday, May 8. Your dues helped to pay for the $1.8 million expansion of the Seven Ponds Nature Center's Interpretive Building, and the staff at the center is eager to show it off and say thank you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Grosse Pointe Woods Team Wins Annual Challenge

The Grosse Pointe Woods team of Martin Blagdurn and Rosann Kovalcik has won the fourth-annual Grosse Pointe Birding Challenge, which was held on May 2.

The competition pits teams from the Grosse Pointes in a seven-hour race to find as many bird species as possible between 5 a.m. and noon in their respective communities. At noon, all teams gather in a restaurant in the Village to tabulate results, declare a winner and swap stories of the day. Each team reports their sightings on the honor system. The Challenge is becoming a fun spring tradition for members of the Grosse Pointe Audubon Society. The event is held in the spring because of the tremendous variety of birds that migrates through our community this time of year.

This is the first year the Woods team has won the Challenge, earning 64 points by seeing 56 species of birds. The Grosse Pointe Farms team finished second with 55 points. The Grosse Pointe Park finished third with 50 points, and the City team finished fourth with 44 points. Each team received one point for each species they saw, one additional point for each species they saw exclusively, and five points for seeing this year's bonus bird, the Northern Yellow-shafted Flicker. The City team had been the defending champion going into the 2009 event.

Even though the event is designed to be a fun competition, members of other teams express jealousy over the advantages that Kovalcik and Blagdurn have. Kovalcik is the owner of the Mack Avenue Wild Birds Unlimited, which is the epicenter of Grosse Pointe bird gossip. Customers share their sightings with Kovalcik and she knows exactly where to go to find the largest variety of birds. Kovalcik and Blagdurn have also turned their yard into a sanctuary that often attracts uncommon birds. Without having to leave their kitchen, they counted a Carolina wren, a somewhat uncommon bird in the Pointes, visiting a feeder in their yard.

Bill Rapai, the lone member of the City team, was the competition's early bird. He visited Neff Park at 5:15 a.m. to search unsuccessfully for the Eastern Screech Owls. Chris Chamberlain and Mark O'Keefe, the Farms team, found a Ruby-throated Hummingbird on the grounds of the Country Club of Detroit. Mike and Judy Florian, the Park team, found a Least Flycatcher. The Woods team found a Sandhill Crane, the most unusual bird of the day, flying north along the Lake St. Clair shoreline. Altogether, the four teams found 79 species of birds during the seven-hour count period.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More arrivals

Penny Swanson reports that she had her first male Baltimore oriole at her nectar feeder on Tuesday, and the singing also announced the first house wren in her yard this year. Two chipping sparrows were also seen picking at grain on the patio on Monday. Chickadees have finally taken to building a nest in one of my hanging houses. Not bad, she says, for not even leaving the house.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

2011 Grosse Pointe Birding Challenge

Join us on Friday, May 20, for the annual Grosse Pointe Birding Challenge. Teams from each of the five Grosse Pointes will be spreading out across their communities to count as many bird species as possible. The team that gets the most points at the end of the competition wins!

The rules are pretty simple:

1. The competition starts at 5 a.m.

2. The Ford House is off limits -- too easy!

3. We're on the honor system. Claims of extremely rare birds will not only likely be challenged by the other competitors, you may be asked to provide proof.

4. The bonus bird this year is the Blackburnian Warbler.

5. Meet at Panera Bread in the Village in Grosse Pointe at noon sharp to tabulate. Each team will receive one point for every species they see. You will receive one extra point for any species you see that no other team sees. The bonus bird is worth five points.

6. Be on time for the tabulation. One point will be deducted for each minute you are late.

7. All decisions of the Commissioner of the Grosse Pointe Birding Challenge are final and are not reviewable by a court of law or by Congress.

Good luck!