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birds

The roseate shoebill perched on top of a branch
Mike Perini

Observers have been flocking to Saline since last Wednesday to get a glimpse of a roseate spoonbill, a bird more typically found along the Gulf Coast region and in South America. It is the first recorded sighting of the species in Michigan, according to The Associated Press. The light-pink bird caused such a commotion that local law enforcement was required to direct the overflow of traffic.

prescription drugs
flickr/Charles Williams / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Today on Stateside, what the national opioid settlement could mean for Michigan. Also, the founding of Detroit’s long-lived and well-loved Black LGBTQ Pride event, Hotter Than July. Plus, Matthew Milia’s new record, delivers lovely, if angsty odes to summer in Keego Harbor.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State wildlife agencies in several states, including Ohio and Indiana, are issuing alerts about a mysterious illness that’s killing an alarming number of songbirds.

Blue jays, robins, grackles, starlings, house sparrows, cardinals and cowbirds are affected by the illness. The birds behave as if they're blind before dying. Many of the agencies report birds have swelling around the eyes and a crusty discharge.

Today on Stateside, we hear about the shifting political sands in Oakland County. Also, climate change and Michigan birds. Plus, we discuss the arid conditions in much of Michigan. It’s creating a greater risk of wildfire, earlier in the season than normal.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Researchers at the University of Michigan are trying to connect the dots between birds becoming smaller with longer wings and their earlier migration.

Studies have shown birds are migrating here earlier in the spring. Other studies show they have been physically changing over the decades. Both are due to climate change, according to studies.

“On one hand, these birds are dramatically changing in their size and shape, and on the other, they were also changing the timing of their migrations,” said Marketa Zimova, lead researcher in a study to determine if the two were connected.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


John Pizniur / GBBC

Michigan has had quite an irruption this winter. We’re not talking lava, but rather an irruption of birds. It’s been a great year for winter birding because of this irruption and Michigan Audubon education coordinator Lindsay Cain explained that an irruption is when northern wintering birds come down south for winter because they’re not finding enough food. 

“They're moving to find food for the winter, which is a really great experience for a lot of birders because we're seeing a lot of things that we wouldn't normally see over the winter,” Cain said.

Ann Arbor's Skyline High School. Ann Arbor Public Schools has been on the state's "significant disproportionality" list for over-suspending black students for five years, but says it's taken aggressive steps to correct that disparity.
Wikimedia Commons

Today on Stateside, confusion and frustration among Ann Arbor parents over the decision on whether to reopen schools. Plus, a look into the history and future of public spaces centered around Detroit's Black residents. And, if you’re starting to feel a little cooped up, may we recommend some winter bird watching?

Common tern holding a fish
Phylis Cooper / USFWS

Research shows chemicals banned years and even decades ago are showing up in some Great Lakes shorebirds. Scientists found P-C-Bs used as a coolant in electrical transformers, fire retardants called P-B-D-Es and derivatives of the insecticide D-D-T in terns. The pollutants were at levels high enough to potentially harm the health of the birds. 

flickr.com/mtaphotos / CC by 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Human problems got you down?

Check out these baby peregrine falcons:

It’s hatching season for the falcons. Fluffy, white newborn chicks are in nests across the state. And you can check on them any time.

Here are some at the Detroit Zoo.

migrating birds
Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash

A new study out of the University of Michigan finds the bodies of migratory birds are shrinking - and it could be due to climate change.

The data was collected in Chicago over roughly 40 years. Researchers collected the bodies of birds that collided with buildings. The study uses some 70,000 birds covering 52 species as its data set.

Common loon is one of the climate endangered species in Michigan.
User: jackanapes / Flickr

More than 50 percent of Michigan’s birds could go extinct if nothing is done to combat climate change.

That's according to a report from the Audubon Society.

two northern bobwhite quail in a field of purple flowers
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) prepares to hold its 110th National Convention in Detroit this weekend, how can the organization attract and empower young activists? Plus, why a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is addressing a group of world leaders at the United Nations in Geneva this week.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Each year hundreds of millions of birds die in the U.S. after colliding with windows. Skyscrapers are not the chief cause, but mostly mid-rise buildings. 

My guide in trying to understand why birds are more likely to collide in three and four-story buildings is Heidi Trudell. She’s an avian collision specialist who works with groups such as Washtenaw Safe Passage.

Demand to kill cormorants grows in Great Lakes

Aug 15, 2018
Cormorant drying its wings on the wreck of the Francisco Morazan off South Manitou Island.
Sam Corden

There are renewed calls to kill cormorants in the Great Lakes. There are far fewer of these migratory birds left in the region after years of lethal control. But anglers and some congressmen say there are still too many and they eat too many fish. Conflict with these waterbirds is longstanding in coastal communtities where fishing is important and the birds nest by the hundreds or even thousands.

In 2004, there were almost 1,800 double-crested cormorant nests on Goose Island, a strip of land in northern Lake Huron about 500 feet wide and less than a mile long.

The Kirtland's warbler
National Audobon Society

Amidst concern about animal species on the verge of extinction, we wanted to look at some success stories: species that were highly endangered, but whose populations are now making a comeback in Michigan.

The Kirtland's warbler is one of those species. Fifty years ago, the songbird was nearly extinct. Today, it has an estimated population of around 5,000.

northern cardinal
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


Malaria is incredibly common across the world in mammals, birds, and reptiles. So it's not surprising that birds in Michigan, just like birds elsewhere, suffer from a variety of malaria-causing parasites. 

What is surprising is just how many blood parasites you find in birds with malaria. 

A new study published in the journal Parasitology Research discovered a far greater range of blood parasites than expected in birds tested in southwest Michigan. 

Juliet Berger and other birders look through their binoculars at a warbler.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Mornings in Michigan is our series about morning routines and rituals around our state. This time of year, some people get up early to see migrating birds arriving in Michigan. Mike Kielb and his wife sometimes get up at 4 a.m.

A snapshot of BirdCast's migration forecast.
Kyle Horton

People who study birds are now using radar to make maps that can forecast migration at night. They say these maps could help by reducing the number of birds that collide with buildings and wind turbines.

sandhill crane
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Right now, it’s illegal in the state of Michigan to hunt the sandhill crane, the state’s largest and oldest bird. But a proposal to hunt the species within the state is gaining traction and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says if the state of Michigan asks, it will grant permission to hunt the bird. Michigan would join 15 other states that currently allow sandhill crane hunting. In these states, hunting requires both a state and federal license.

Donna Dewhurst / USFWS

A new study in the journal Science finds there are genetic differences in yellow warblers that live in different parts of the U.S. and Canada, and some of those populations seem to be more genetically vulnerable to climate change than others.

Rachael Bay is the lead author of the study, at the University of California-Davis.

“We did some genome sequencing and we found a bunch of genes that seem to be associated with whether yellow warblers live in warmer or drier or hotter or colder areas," she says.

pine grosbeak in tree with berries
Don Henise / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As the rest of us are snuggled up with hot cocoa this holiday season, Michigan birders have been heading out in the snow and cold for the annual Christmas bird count.

"The first Christmas bird count actually did happen on Christmas back in 1900,” says Rachelle Roake, conservation science coordinator for Michigan Audubon.

Snowy owls have descended on the Great Lakes region and northeastern U.S. in huge numbers in recent weeks, to the delight of birdwatchers.

The mass migration we’re seeing this winter is what’s known as an irruption.

"For snowies, that's usually largely influenced by whether or not they had a really good breeding year,” said Rachelle Roake, a conservation scientist at Michigan Audubon.

And snowy owl breeding is influenced by how much food those snowy owls have access to during the breeding season.

D. Tallamy, courtesy of Desiree Narango

Native plants are better for birds than non-native plants.

That’s the main finding of a study on chickadees and the caterpillars they eat.

Courtesy of Chris Wysocki

Firearm deer season starts today and thousands of hunters are heading out with their rifles. But around this time of year, there's a tiny group of Michiganders heading out with birds instead.

picture of a peregrine falcon
Flickpicpete / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The pesticide DDT was responsible for wiping out large populations of top predator birds in Michigan and across the country. One of the most well known was the bald eagle whose eggs, thinned by the pesticide, cracked during incubation.

DDT was banned in the 1970s and raptors — with some help from wildlife biologists — started to make a comeback.

Birds breeding early to catch up to climate change

May 11, 2017
Courtesy of Powdermill Nature Reserve

 

New research shows that in order for some early birds to catch the worm, they have to breed sooner in the spring.

 

Luke DeGroote is the avian research coordinator at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and he runs the bird banding program at the museum's Powdermill Nature Reserve.

 

Right now, he’s in the thick of spring migration.

 

“It’s sort of a bit like fishing, in a way. We put out our nets to see what we catch,” he says.

David Lobbig / Courtesy of Jenny Chipault

In the last few weeks, roughly 600 birds have died along the shore of Lake Michigan. They washed up on the beaches within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with more dead birds reported on beaches in the Upper Peninsula.

Researchers found that cardinals might be helping to shield people from West Nile virus in some regions of the country.
USFWS

Robins are considered "super-spreaders" of West Nile virus. They’re especially good at passing the virus to mosquitoes, and mosquitoes, of course, can then pass it to us.

It turns out a different bird species – cardinals – might be shielding people from getting the virus in some parts of the country.

The Canada warbler is declining throughout its range in the U.S.
US Fish and Wildlife Service

Some kinds of birds are doing better in our changing climate, and others are declining. These changes are happening in similar ways in both the U.S. and Europe.

Those are the findings of a new study in the journal Science.

Phil Stephens is a senior lecturer in ecology at Durham University in the UK, and he’s a lead author of the study. 

Stephens and an international team of researchers studied data on more than 500 common species of birds over a 30 year period (1980-2010) in both Europe and the U.S.

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