Tawas point trip Saturday May 11,2019p

Our trip to Tawas Point was on a cold, intermittent rainy day, May 13. However, many birds were seen and enjoyed and good learning was going on because of our wonderful guide, Sam Burckhardt. Sam is a professional guide, who is truly a great asset to us! Many Thanks to Sam and all that attended.

Dear AVA Members,

To all those who braved the cold wind during this morning’s field trip lead by Sam Burckhardt and all those who stayed home in their warm beds at 7 am, here is a list of the different species that were observed.

This eBird list was compiled by Larry VanWagoner.

My thanks to all who braved the cold weather.


Tawas Point State Park, East Tawas US-MI (44.2538,-83.4483), Iosco, Michigan, US

May 13, 2019 7:02 AM – 9:35 AM

Protocol: Traveling

1.459 mile(s)

Comments:     AVA field trip, cloudy and drizzle at times, winds out of North, 42 F

51 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  5

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  1

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)  1

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)  1

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)  4

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)  9

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)  2

Common Loon (Gavia immer)  1

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  12

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  1

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  2

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)  2

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)  1

Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) (Colaptes auratus auratus/luteus)  4

Merlin (Falco columbarius)  2

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  12

Purple Martin (Progne subis)  1

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  20

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  20

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3

Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  8

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea)  1

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  5

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)  3

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)  1

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  12

Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  2

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  1

Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)  2

American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)  1

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  6

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  4

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)  9

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  40

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  6

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  20

Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia)  3

Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)  1

American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla)  6

Cape May Warbler (Setophaga tigrina)  9

Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)  2

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Setophaga caerulescens)  1

Palm Warbler (Setophaga palmarum)  20

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)  30

Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)  3

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)  5

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Road cleanup

A small but efficient and hardworking team of 9 met for the spring clean up on M-55 west of Tawas on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Their task was to address two miles of highway which had missed a fall 2018 cleaning. It took two hours of sunshine and walking to complete the two miles under AVA care. Eighteen bags of trash, some lumber, a full and complete car bumper and a number of ‘roadies” (ten cent refundable cans) were collected. Thanks to folks like this, AVA has 227 bags of trash removed to their credit. These efforts give us all a healthier habitat, a more attractive landscape and a fine sense of accomplishment.
Thanks to ALL our Road Clean Up Teams Present and Past!

Hard workers

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Tawas Festival attendant’s notice!

For you early birders: Big Boy in Tawas will open early just for you. At 6:00AM so that you won’t be hungry on your tour. It will also not chase the birds away with your growling stomach.

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The Biggest Little Birding Festival in the Midwest

May 16-18, 2019

Registration is now open!

To Register click Here

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Outing to Sam Burkhardt’s Sanctuary

A Walk In the Woods with Friends…

A number of lucky AVA folks walked in a beautiful forest, marveled at an ingenious dam structure and generally loved every minute of being outdoors on a cool, blue sky, early fall morning with Sam Burckhardt on Saturday, September 8, 2018.  It was wonderful to be there to smell the fragrant soil and sweet fern, to see the towering trees and hear the birds and leaves rustle in the wind to believe it!  In addition, a fascinating history of home ownership and property acquisition was shared.  Wow! Thank you BIG TIME to Sam and Richard for sharing their ‘Sanctuary” with  AVA.

Sue Duncan


Photo contributed by Moira

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Pine River Campground Potluck Picnic

Pine River Campground Picnic

Our first unofficial activity of the new birding year took place on Friday, August 24 at Pine River Campground. It was a gorgeous mild evening, with very few bugs, and 20 AVA members. 😁 A veritable feast was enjoyed; complete with hotdogs, chips, many tasty salads and truly delicious desserts.   It doesn’t get any better than that!

A short, but pleasant walk to view the river followed the wonderful meal. Arnie was able to share many interesting facts about the area due to its connection with Huron Pines and the Kirtland’s Warbler tours as well as learning about the trout fishery that was once active on the river. Gary Wall and Carol Wells camped the night proceeding our get together and had the place to themselves! It is certainly a beautiful and peaceful place to be.
A few of us spotted Redheaded Woodpeckers and other birds on the drive to the campground. The enthusiastic conversations about birds, family, summer activities, upcoming trips etc. never slowed down until all departed by 7:15.



I wish you all could’ve been with us.
Hopefully, we will all be together on September 11, in East Tawas for thefirst official meeting of the new AVA birding year.
Best regards,

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Piping Plovers 2018


2018 Piping Plover Season-  Oscoda/AuSable

By Peggy Ridgway

Adult roaming for a little exercise Image by Arno Poerner


This season proved to be interesting, challenging and rewarding. Interesting because this was the only known nest site on the Lake Huron side of the U.S. It was located on the beach just south of the AuSable River mouth in front of a condominium complex.


Click on images to see larger versions

Image by Arno Poerner

The male was captive-reared last summer at the University of Michigan  Biological Station near Pellston and the female hatched in 2017 on the west side of the state. Both were first-year nesters.  The female selected a perfect location to nest…high and dry along the beach. Throughout the incubation period, invading waves due to strong northeast winds failed to reach the precious four eggs.

However, several natural predators including Ring-billed and Herring Gulls were constantly on the scene.

Scarecrow to keep the gulls at bay Image by Peggy Ridgway

Furthermore, a fox family lived close by and often roamed the beach at night.  This nocturnal fox challenge was the most difficult to monitor. Just a few days after hatching, only one chick remained.  It was determined that the fox must have consumed three of the chicks during an evening prowl, as the chicks were all observed just the night before they disappeared. The remaining chick was named “Survivor.”
Condo residents were aware of the challenge the gulls presented to the remaining chick and after getting input from the plover monitors, decided to create their own scarecrow and placed it on the beach where most of the gulls gathered.  After several days, “Gulliver” the scarecrow was most effective in keeping the pesky gulls away.

Protecting her brood. Image by Arno Poerner

Survivor was banded and departed about three weeks after birth.  Hopefully, it will be sighted on its wintering grounds and reported to researchers.

The parent female was spotted in late July along the South Carolina coast.

One of the rewarding moments during this season at this location was the sudden and brief appearance of a plover that was banded at Tawas Point in 2012!  It still wore its “chick bands” and therefore has never nested or been re-branded as an adult. It was only observed that one but memorable day!

Things were looking promising for a while Image by Arno Poerner

Many thanks to Arno Poerner, Arnie Leriche, Chris Coulon, Ed Cole, Phil Odum, R.C. Laugal and Peggy Ridgway for their almost two-month devotion to monitoring the plovers.  A special thanks to Arno Poerner and condo residents Todd Palgut and Dave Witkowski for their fabulous photos.

The condo residents are also very much appreciated for their patience and willingness to learn more about this federally endangered species and help this became a success story.

Survivor testing it's wings.

Survivor testing its wings. Image by Dave Witkowski

Survivor checking the mirror. Image by Todd Palgut




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Tawas Point Migration 2018 a Success!

Thank you to everyone who participated or attended the Tawas Point Migration event!

Here is the link to the synopsis story (front page!) published by the Iosco News Herald. Update!: here are links to the pages of the article in PDF format for those how wish to keep a copy. Thank you Iosco News! Page 1 Page 2 Page 3

Here are some additional photos:

Birders at Tuttle Marsh

Bird Banding

Guide Elliot Nelson briefing a group

Animal pelts and mounts for kids

Birders on Tawas Point Trail

Red Tail Hawk – Wings of Wonder

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Local Viewing and Photo of Banded Bald Eagle

AVA member Bill Roth forwarded this photo taken after the May 8th AVA meeting along with the accompanying description.

Note the band on the leg. Photo courtesy of Bill Roth

After leaving the meeting last evening, I noticed a Baldie feasting on a fresh road kill. I stopped and it flew into a big cottonwood. I was running out of daylight but managed a few frames. Check out the right leg!..This was about 5-6 miles west of Singing Bridge on Turner Rd…

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Barred Owl backyard visitor

Submitted by the Bakers from their backyard in Tawas Township on April 23rd:

“This Barred Owl was perched in our Aspen tree. It was hunting for squirrels or rabbits that would come to eat the bird seed scattered on the ground by our pond.” Click on the photo for a larger view.

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