Mich Enviro Report: Birds, Earthworms, Rain & the Rifle River

For Friday Edition, April 29, 2011, Delta College Q-90.1 FM … 

1.

Early to mid-May is prime time for birdwatching.

photo robin worm grass
Photo Credit: John Benson

The Tawas Point Birding Festival takes place from May 12-15, during the spring migration.

The festival is a Michigan Audubon event supported by the local Au Sable Valley chapter.

Birders can expect to see migrating warblers at Tawas Point during the month of May. More than 160 species of birds were spotted during a festival in 2008.

The festival includes field trips, workshops, lighthouse tours, a Charity Island cruise, and Kirtland’s Warbler tours.

This year’s feature presentation is by authors and photographers Don and Lillian Stokes.

For more information, see tawasbirdfest.com.

2.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy has inked an agreement with Huron Pines to permanently protect land in the Rifle River Watershed.

Under the agreement, the Conservancy will identify parcels of land that exhibit important conservation values like wetland habitat or working farmland.

The Conservancy will then work with landowners to secure voluntary conservation easements on at least 100 acres of land in the watershed, according to those involved.

The Rifle River flows through Ogemaw and Arenac counties.

It’s about 60 miles long and drains 396 square miles into Saginaw Bay.

The Rifle is being negatively impact by sediment and nutrient loading.

The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy is based in Bay City.

Huron Pines is a conservation organization with offices in Grayling.

3.

Rain Rain Rain. The next time you see a worm crawling on the sidewalk, give that worm some respect.

Earthworms are an indicator of soil health, and can impact soil structure and plant growth.

According to the Michigan Nature Association, there are 21 species of earthworms in Michigan, and you can find up to 300 individual worms in a square yard of soil.

Earthworms consume dead and decaying plant material and excrete food for plants.

Their other environmental benefits include helping with soil drainage, especially after a heavy downpour.

Earthworms can live up to eight years, but most don’t survive more than a year.

Thank the birds for that. Foxes, shrews, skunks, moles and garter snakes also enjoy the taste of worms.

The Saginaw Bay area has received plenty of rain this week. The precipitation has resulted in flood warnings for the Saginaw River.

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