Christmas Bird Count 2017

Volunteers are out counting. Check this space for updates!

Counters are out Counting

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AVA December 2017 Meeting In The Books

December Meeting a Wrap of Year 2017

Twenty-nine AVA members met at the R. J Parks Library in Oscoda on December 12 from 1-3:30. They were there to see birder friends and to learn about using the eBird application. There were other topics of interest too; the two Christmas counts coming up soon, short reports on Giving Tuesday, and the Tawas Point Migration 2018 plans, as well as some Christmas cheer done in song, thanks to Emily Kemnitz!

Phil Odum’s presentation generated great interest and discussion. Many energetically shared with either questions and/or tips for use of eBird! More will be done at future meetings to keep that interest vibrant, according to President Jean Howard. A final treat was viewing a number of Phil’s superb photos of birds and other objects of interest that he encounters on his many miles of ‘chasing’ birds.  Thanks to Phil, Arno, Larry, Dawn and all who made it a worthwhile time for all!


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AVA Sandhill Crane Viewing Field Trip

Narrative courtesy of Sue Duncan. Photograph courtesy of Larry VanWagoner. Enjoy!

October 25, 2017 at 5:15 pm fourteen intrepid AVA Members left Nester Corner’s gas station in search of Sandhill Cranes. The large, long legged birds had been found many times before in an area with a farm field and adjacent ponds, but would any appear tonight?

The early scouting done just an hour preceding by Larry and Sue had been totally unsuccessful.  Not one bird was found feeding or flying anywhere in the vicinity. The behavior of these migrants is still puzzling to the watchers.

The birders arrived on site and began spotting wildlife; whitetail deer, multiple large flocks of ducks and Canada Geese, even a Bald Eagle, but no Cranes. It was cold and overcast, typically late October weather. Sunset was around 6:45, would the team be able to hold out that long?

A lone crane crossed the sky! Yippee!  Was it a young one that couldn’t keep up? No peeps were heard.  Was it a scout for the evening flock? Why wasn’t there a couple hundred approaching?  AVA 14 – Cranes 1.  Finally more Cranes started to blink into view!  Counting could be heard from a number of the birders. This was becoming more fun. Then just before dusk, cold and hunger got the best of the crew.  With a count of 65 cranes (or so) the AVA folks gratefully got into warm cars and headed off for dinner, leaving the Cranes with their feet in the water or feeding in the field awaiting their chance to float over to find a spot to roost with the other feathery migrants.

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AuSable Valley Audubon November 8 Meeting is a Go

We were able to schedule a replacement program  after Thunder Bay had to cancelled the November 7 meeting.

AuSable Valley Audubon will meet on  Wednesday, November 8 at 1:00 p.m. at the R.J. Parks Library in Oscoda.

Larry VanWagoner and Sue Duncan will present a timely program on Sandhill Cranes.

Also check out the Michigan Audubon update on the status of the Resolution pending before the Natural Resources Commission to allow a fall hunting season for Sandhill Cranes and actions you can take to discourage adoption.

Join us for lunch at G’s in Oscoda at 11:30  prior to the meeting on November 8! Call Sue at 989-362-2522 or email her at  by 6:00 p.m. Tuesday if you will be coming to the lunch.

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Thunder Bay Audubon Nov 7 Canceled

We received the following update from out hosts at Thunder Bay Audubon:

Due to a scheduling conflict, the presentation by Tom Funke, on November 7 has been canceled. We have not rescheduled it, so there will be no joint meeting of Thunder Bay Audubon with AuSable Valley Audubon at this time.

We are sorry this late change.

Karen Tetzlaff

TBAS President

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Fall Bird Congregations

Not all fall bird groups are colorful, but variety is still there in large numbers.

These photos and description are courtesy of AVA members Terry and Mary Baker on Friday, October 13th (click on the photos for a larger image):

There were probably 200 birds in our yard this morning. They were in the front, back and side yard. They make quite a noise when they all fly at the same time!


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October AVA Field Trip!

Surprise! Fall colors are here. 😀Join your AuSable Valley Audubon friends in a walk at Lumberman’s Monument from the parking lot to the river overlook and back.  Of course, you can also do the stairs or follow the trail that leads along the river… But we’re going to go as a group for short and sweet.

Friday, October 13, at 11 AM we will gather in the parking lot near the visitor’s center.  Bring your binoculars, as there may be birds  in migration  as well as our local population of Trumpeter Swans …or various ducks way down below!

For those who’d like lunch afterwards we recommend the Bear’s Den on M-65, it is not far away. They have been sponsors of past birding festivals.

Please let Sue know if you plan to attend, 989–362–2522 or 989–701–5471, or email

Call or contact me right up until 10 o’clock on Friday! I hope to see you there. (Too bad Saturday’s weather looks like rain  or we could do it again!)

AuSable Valley Audubon VP

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Final 2017 M-55 Road Cleanup Is In The Books

  182 Bags of Trash Since Spring 2011

Ten of our members joined forces on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 to make the drive along M-55 a little nicer for viewers and critters. Teams of two worked in a mostly cloudy and cool breeze environment for about an hour to make a difference by picking up eleven bags of trash. Afterwards lunch was enjoyed together at Larry and Sue’s home.  Newer members Doug and Marcella helped fill out the teams in the absence of some of our ‘regular’ volunteers.  A good job was done by all!!  Thank you!

Our Fall 2017 Crew
Many Smiling Faces!

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Birding Updates from Our Area

(This update is by the courtesy of Larry VanWagoner. Thanks, Larry!) 9/27/17

Sandhill Cranes

We (Sue and Larry) visited the Prescott crane site 10 days ago in the early evening.  We found about 300 cranes foraging in the alfalfa field east of the roosting ponds.  Past counts this early in the fall have found less than 100 birds.

And At the Straits

The Mackinaw Straits Raptor Watch group is conducting three daily/nightly surveys this fall until mid-October.   A raptor count at Pt. LaBarbie ( just west of the north approach of the Mackinaw Bridge), a waterbird count at the Straits on the beach west of Mackinaw City near McGulpin Lighthouse, and an owl banding project at Cheboygan State Park.

You can view their progress / daily results by visiting their website and clicking on ’News’ in the blue bar at the top of the page.


The Headlands Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City has opened their Waterfront Event Center (and astronomical observatory).  They are offering monthly sky programs.

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Special Speaker at October 10 AVA Meeting

Caleb Putnam to Address AuSable Valley Audubon
October 10, at Tawas High School

Caleb  Putnam, the  Michigan Bird Conservation Coordinator for Michigan Audubon Great Lakes and the Michigan Department  of Natural Resources started in  2016, will address the AuSable Valley Audubon on October 10 in the media room at Tawas High School on
Tuesday, October 10, 2017 at 7:00 p.m.

The topic is the Great Lakes Restoration Project, an ambitious program which covers work in eight states bordering the Great Lakes.   This program brings together a diverse array of habitats and conservation threats for hundreds of migratory species.  The Audubon /Great Lakes office is spear heading a new approach to tackling the Great Lakes unique and diverse bird conservation challenges.    Caleb will speak to Audubon’s ongoing work on landbird stopover habit, Coastal Wetland Monitoring and Restoration, Bird Friendly Communities, Wind Energy and Climate Saving Important Bird Areas (IBAs), and Black Tern conservation in the Great Lakes regions, as well as other projects.

Previously as Coordinator of the Michigan IBA Program, Caleb worked with several managing partners in assembling rigorous criteria for designating and achieving an area as an IBA, among those,  Saginaw Bay-Tawas Bay.  Well known as a frequent guide and speaker at the Tawas Point Birding Festival, he has a diverse background in ornithology and wildlife management. The public is welcome to attend.    [There has been some confusion over the location of this meeting—however, it is at the Tawas High School, M-55 Tawas city-media room.]

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