DNR to host songbird forum at NMU

A male chestnut-sided warbler shows off his spring colors in Marquette County. Songbirds like this chestnut-sided warbler will be the topic of a Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Through Forestry songbird forum from 6-9 p.m. Thursday in Michigan Room at the University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette. This forum seeks to educate the public on songbirds and how private lands can be developed and enhanced to support these birds. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

MARQUETTE — As spring has gradually arrived, the sounds of migratory songbirds have returned to forests and backyards in the Upper Peninsula.

For those who wish to learn more about these beautiful birds and how to support them, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will host a Wildlife Through Forestry songbird forum from 6-9 p.m. Thursday in Michigan Room at the University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

“May is a prime time to talk about songbirds, especially with the spectacular spring bird migration under way here in Michigan,” said Gary Willis, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources service forester from the Baraga office, in a press release. “This is the time of year birdwatchers are focused on a vast variety of returning songbirds.”

The event, which will feature speakers Katie Koch and Vince Cavalieri of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and David Flaspohler from the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Tech, aims to educate attendees on song birds and provide private landowners with information on the value of a Forest Stewardship Plan.

Koch, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who founded the Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership and Midwest Avian Data Center, is focused on conservation of birds in northern forest landscapes. She has launched the Midwest Migration Network and grown the Midwest Avian Data Center to be the “one-stop shop for bird information throughout the Midwest region,” according to a press release about the event.

Cavalieri, also a wildlife biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service, has been the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery coordinator for five years. His primary interest is in ecology and conservation of birds, such as cerulean warblers, mountain plovers, Kirtland’s warblers and trumpeter swans.

Flaspohler, an avian conservation biologist in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Tech. He has held this position for two decades and received his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied edge effects on songbirds in northern Wisconsin.

The three distinguished biologists who will speak at the event have worked on a variety of different projects, including recovering threatened and endangered species and studying edge effects on songbirds in northern Wisconsin.

In addition to the presentations given by these speakers, there will also be an informational presentation by Willis, who will discuss the “the miracle of flight,” songbird navigation and forest management practices that will enhance songbird habitat.

A panel of resource professionals will also be on hand to discuss the development, preparation and implementation of Forest Stewardship Plans at the event.

Before the forum begins at 6 p.m., the trailer for a documentary entitled “The Messenger” will be played, which calls attention to declining songbird populations and the human impact upon these birds.

According to the press release about the event, over 150 professional foresters and 20 wildlife biologists develop Forest Stewardship Plans for forest landowners in Michigan. Many county conservation districts in Michigan have foresters on staff who can perform free site visits to private properties. Foresters can discuss the specific wildlife habitat and forestry goals with landowners and discuss availability of financial assistance programs that can provide cost sharing for resource management plan preparation and implementation.

For information about these plans or the Commercial Forest Program, contact Gary Willis, DNR Service Forester, 427 U.S. 41 North, Baraga, Michigan, 49908; 906-353-6651, ext. 122 or willisg2@michigan.gov.

For Marquette County, contact Matt Watkeys, forester, at matt.watkeys@ mi.nacdnet.net or call the Marquette County Conservation District office at 906-226-8871, ext. 128.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.