For the fifth straight year, the Grosse Pointe Woods team has won the annual Grosse Pointe Birding Challenge.
The competition, which was held May 20, 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 to tabulate results, declare a winner and swap stories of the day. Each team reports their sightings on the honor system. The Challenge has become a fun spring tradition for members of Grosse Pointe Audubon. The event is held in the spring because of the tremendous variety of birds that migrate through our community this time of year.
The Woods team won the Challenge by seeing 77 species of birds. The Grosse Pointe Farms team finished second with 55 species. The Grosse Pointe team finished third with 49 species, and the Grosse Pointe Park team finished fourth with 48 species. Each team received one point for each species they saw, and five points for the year’s “Bonus Bird,” which was the Warbling Vireo.
Both the number of individuals and number of species were up considerably from the previous year. In 2012, the Woods team saw only 67 species. In 2013, the teams combined to see 91 species, including 19 species of warblers. Participants in the birding challenge were in agreement that the warblers are behind schedule in migration because of the cold spring.
The Woods team of Rosann Kovalcik and Annie Crary started the day finding Common Nighthawk calling from their nesting site on the roof of nearby Ferry Elementary. They also picked up another nocturnal bird—an Eastern Screech-Owl roosting in the thick ivy growing on the side of a private residence. The team also birded the grounds of the Lochmoor Club, Lake Front Park and Ghesquiere Park.
Mark O’Keefe, the lone member of the Grosse Pointe Farms team, birded the Country Club of Detroit, the Piney Woods and Pier Park and found 55 species, including a Black-billed Cuckoo. Golden-winged Warbler was the best bird of the day for the Grosse Pointe Park team of Mike and Judy Florian and Trina Bresser Matous. They spent the majority of their morning birding Patterson Park.
Bill Rapai, the lone member of the Grosse Pointe City team, found a Green Heron and Eastern Screech-Owl near Neff Park and a Common Nighthawk calling from the sky over The Village.
More information about the challenge and Grosse Pointe Audubon can be found at the organization’s website, gpaudubon.blogspot.com.