White-Nose Syndrome in Michigan, Birds in Tawas, and Earth Day in Bay City

1 – White-nose syndrome has been confirmed in Michigan bats. 

Credit: USFWS.

Little brown bat; close-up of nose with fungus, New York, October 2008. Credit: USFWS.

The Department of Natural Resources says the serious disease has been detected for the first time within state borders.

White-nose syndrome has been found in three Michigan counties: Alpena, Dickinson and Mackinac. The fungus is known to cause significant rates of illness and death in North American bats.

The DNR and partner organizations are now shifting gears from surveillance to working to stop the spread.

Five little brown bats showing disease characteristics were collected in February and March by researchers from Eastern Michigan University.

The disease was first documented in 2006 in a cave in upstate New York. Eleven species of bats have been infected and more than 6 million have died.

There are no known harmful effects to humans from White-nose syndrome.

But the DNR says the loss of bats due to the disease could be economically significant for agriculture and commercial forestry, leading to an increase in pests that are harmful to crops and trees.

Bat die-offs can be reported through an observation report on the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/wildlife or by calling the DNR at 517-336-5030.

2 – The Tawas Point Birding Festival is May 15-18 in Iosco County.

The ninth annual festival will be based at the Tawas Bay Beach Resort in East Tawas. The Michigan Audubon Annual Conference will be held at the same time.

The Tawas Point festival will feature guided birding walks at area hotspots, along with programs and talks by some of Michigan’s leading wildlife experts. Some events are already sold out.

Tawas Point is a spring destination for birders from around the country and the world.

The “Point” is well known for high concentrations of migrating warblers during the month of May. More than 200 species of birds were recorded during the festival weekend in 2013.


3 – The city of Bay City has plans for Earth Day.

The 20th annual Ed Golson compost event is Saturday, April 26, at Veterans Memorial Park. It starts at 8 a.m., and ends when the compost is gone.

Little League teams will be collecting donations to offset their utility expenses. The compost can be shoveled, and it’s known as “black gold” for the benefits it brings to gardens.

There’s also a “Clean Up Bay City” event on April 26, sponsored by the mayor and city neighborhood groups. That’s from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with opportunities for residents to recycle and reduce their excess bulk trash.

ReLeaf Michigan also will have a pick-up location at Bay City Electric Light & Power for people who that have purchased trees for planting.

More information is available on the city’s website, at baycitymi.org.


Two New Bat Species, a NOAA Art Contest, and the Saginaw Basin Field Guide (Part 2)

1- There’s more news from Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County.

michigan hoary bat

A hoary bat captured at Shiawassee refuge. Credit: Amber Nolder.

Last week, we reported on a red-tailed hawk that’s been coming to the refuge for 27 years, which may make it the oldest-living red-tailed hawk ever documented. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is looking into that story. (Washington State may have an older bird, but not a wild one).

Now comes information on two new species of bats found at the refuge. Steven Kahl, refuge manager, says a bat survey has turned up a number of hoary bats and red bats at the park.

The survey was done to explore what types of bats are using the refuge, and in what numbers. A total of 229 bats of three species were captured, including four red bats and three hoary bats. The survey was conducted in collaboration with Eastern Michigan University.

Despite the new bats that were found to be using the refuge, there is bad news. Only two “little brown bats” were discovered. These types of bats used to be the most abundant kind on the refuge. But a bat-killing fungus called White Nose Syndrome has decimated the little brown bat species across most of its range.

2 – Attention teachers: the annual  “Keep the Sea Free of Debris” Art Contest is now open.

The contest, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is open to kids from kindergarten through the eighth grade. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 19.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is looking for art that shows how marine debris affects the environment of the oceans, and the freshwater seas of Great Lakes, and what people can do to help solve this problem.

Winners of the art contest will be featured in a 2015 marine debris calendar to help raise awareness about the issue.

saginaw basin field guide cover

The second edition of the Saginaw Basin Field Guide, from the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.

A sixth- and eighth-grader from Michigan were among the winners last year.

More: Beat the Micro Bead

3- What kind of a bird is that?

If you want to know more about plants, birds and other animals that live in the Saginaw Bay watershed, and how to spot them, pick up a copy of a new regional field guide.

The guide comes from the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy, located in Bay City.

You can pick up a free copy at the conservancy’s headquarters on East Midland Street, request a copy by mail, or download an electronic version from the conservancy website.

This is the second edition of the Saginaw Basin Field Guide. It includes trail maps, new art and photography, along information on nature preserves and all the different types of species you may encounter in the outdoors.


– The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM.

Michigan Bats, Energy Awareness & the Saginaw Basin Conservancy

Photo Credit: Redjar via Flickr.

My Oct. 22 Environment Report for Friday Edition is now online.

It’s about halfway through the audio posted at the Delta College Q90.1 website.

You have to wait a bit for the audio to load. This one includes bumpers!

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