Birding Michigan, Part 2: Shiawassee NWR


On the bank of the Shiawassee River, in central Michigan, Shiawassee NWR was touted as “a critical migration stopover site for waterfowl.” We were there on the last day of August, just over a year ago. With habitats ranging from marshes to forests to prairie, and a long list of bird species, some of which I’ve rarely (if ever) seen, I was hoping to see more than just waterfowl.


Another Bird to See

Plain-backed_thrush,_Mishmi_Hills,_Arunachal_Pradesh,_IndiaWe interrupt this blog for an exciting, bird-related announcement. It seems incredible that an animal as large as a thrush could go unnoticed until now, but scientists have recently discovered a new species of thrush! It was separated from, and is similar to, the Plain-backed Thrush, shown here courtesy of Wikipedia.

The bird lives in the Himalayas of northeast India and the adjacent parts of China. As I haven’t been traveling to that part of the world lately (I haven’t even been out of the country in far too long!), I’m posting some links to a couple of the better articles I found on the discovery.

Conservation India has an very informative article. (To put this discovery into context, this article mentions that, “Since 2000, an average of five new species per year have been discovered globally, most of which are from South America.”  I had no idea!)

This article by Fox News includes the song, which is very pretty.




Support Sustainable Forests

Migration has died down. The birds have arrived at their destinations, and are spending their time and energy raising a new generation. But where were all those birds headed, anyway? Most went north, far north.  The Boreal Forest in the Northern U.S. and Canada is essential breeding territory for many species of birds.

evening-grosbeak-home-2008jun05-lah-033cOne familiar bird impacted by the fate of our forests is the Evening Grosbeak. Evening Grosbeaks are birds of boreal and montane forests and are therefore susceptible to all the incursions into those habitats. Chemical control of spruce budworm and other tree pests lowers this species’ food supply and may also cause secondary poisoning. Competition and the spread of disease among house finches, goldfinches, and other feeder birds may also be playing a role in the decline. Finally, populations are affected by fluctuations in insect populations and the frequency and intensity of forest fires.

Federal and state legislations promoting sustainable forest management will help fight habitat loss from inappropriate logging, mining, and drilling. Become educated about the issues and write those legislators who are most likely to make critical decisions. The informative article in the Sept./Oct.,2008 issue of Aikorns is a good place to start.