WPBO | Michigan Audubon

Article by Wendy Tatar, Program Coordinator for Michigan Audubon. She assumed the organization of WPBO’s Spring Fling that occurred this year April 30-May 1, 2016.

For 35 years Whitefish Point Bird Observatory (WPBO), 11 miles north of Paradise, has worked as an independent organization to collect data on migrating raptors, waterfowl, shorebirds, and owls. In 2015 the WPBO Board of Directors voted to dissolve and turn the bird observatory and all its collected data over to Michigan Audubon. That transition took place on January 1, 2016.

What does that transition mean to the public? Not much, really. Operations of the observatory will function in much the same way. Improvements to structures and eventually programming will occur. Data on migrating birds will still be collected and disseminated. You will see the Michigan Audubon logo a lot more. What may not be visible to the naked eye will be the improved support structure that comes from being a program of Michigan Audubon.

This statewide organization brings with it an endowment, a good membership base, and the knowledge and expertise of a 112 year old organization. Michigan Audubon’s mission is to connect birds and people for the benefit of both through conservation, education, and research efforts in the State of Michigan. We’ve been doing that since 1904. WPBO is a good fit for our purpose.

The mission of WPBO is to document the distribution and abundance of birds in the Great Lakes Region, with special emphasis on migration. Research projects focus on assessing the status of bird populations and movements. Information acquired is used to increase knowledge of bird migration, to encourage public awareness of birds and the environment, and to further bird conservation.

Did you know that Whitefish Point sits in one of the major migratory bird pathways in North America? Most birds, especially large ones, do not like to fly over large bodies of water. Because there is this narrow land mass that juts out into Lake Superior bringing the Ontario shoreline just a few miles closer, birds will fly over that land extension in case they run into trouble and need to land quickly. This funnel effect brings a large number of bird species directly overhead of the bird observatory and makes it somewhat easier to track the numbers and species of birds. That also brings rare species to the area, birds that have been blown off course and shouldn’t be in Michigan. These rare birds, and the spectacle of spring migration, also bring birders to the area, and in turn, money to local businesses. Embrace the birders and they will in turn embrace you.

Note from the Editor: The Whitefish Point Bird Observatory holds a phenomenal birding experience each spring entitled, Spring Fling. This event is a celebration of the spring migration of hawks, waterfowl, and owls and time for birders to connect with each other. 2016 marked a significant change with our Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. We asked Wendy with the Michigan Audubon Society to fill us in. The 2017 Spring Fling is scheduled for the last weekend in May, 2017. Make plans today to join that celebration by signing up to receive direct information at Michigan Audubon E-News Subscribers

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