If you see a cell phone tower, look up!

You may notice in the upcoming months, HRWC is featuring the Osprey as a Huron River success story. As part of our slight obsession with this amazing bird of prey, HRWC staff recently traveled to Kensington Metropark for a staff outing.  We take a half-day occasionally to venture out of our office as a group to learn about the unique attributes of our watershed. This time, led by Barb Jensen, a volunteer of Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan, we visited with a mated pair of Osprey and their young family of three fledglings on Wildwing Lake.

Osprey, a fish-eating bird of prey, once lived throughout Michigan.  Known as the “fish hawk,” these birds live near water and use their keen eyesight, superb flying skills and sharp talons to catch fish. Loss of habitat and the use of DDT and other pesticides led to their decline in the southern region of the Lower Peninsula to the end that there were no nesting osprey in SE Michigan.  Barb reported to us that thanks to a 1998 reintroduction project and cleaner water here in our watershed, the Osprey are rebounding. In 2011, 37 nested pairs were sited with close to 50 counted this year.

In order to protect themselves from predators like Bald Eagles and Great Horned Owls, Osprey like to build their nests away from dense cover and high up enough to maintain a 360 degree view of the space around them. Cell phone towers fit the bill nicely!

HRWC staff would like to extend a special thank you to Barb, for her excellent talk on all things Osprey and for her passionate stewardship of these amazing birds. Stay tuned for more Osprey info in our Fall 2012 Huron River Report.

Lakes and rivers within the Huron River Watershed are great areas to find a great diversity of bird life and observe mating and feeding behaviors. On the Osprey outing, staff also observed Great Blue Herons, Sandhill Cranes, Baltimore Orioles and lots of water birds. On a separate walk last weekend with the City of Ann Arbor’s ornithologist, Dea Armstrong, about 20 novice birders (most of whom were new to birding) learned how easy and fun it is to observe birds, even in an urban park like that of Gallup Park in Ann Arbor. The group even spotted an active oriole nest by the river being tended by active (and beautiful) parents.

There are lots of opportunities to see birds on water walks all across the watershed. Look for opportunities in your neck of the shed and tell us about your experiences on this blog!