For Friday, Dec. 16, 2016
1 – The annual Christmas Bird Count began this week across the U.S. and Canada.
Every year, thousands of volunteers identify and count birds during the count, which is put on by the National Audubon Society. The Count helps researchers, conservation biologists, and others study North American bird populations over time.
Last year more than 2,500 counts were completed and 58.8 million birds were reported.
Anyone can participate in the Christmas Bird Count until Jan. 5.
The Count takes place in geographic circles that include experienced birders. That means even beginners can participate.
In Michigan, counts are planned in locations including Huron County, Tuscola County, Bay City, Midland and Tawas.
2 – Does your child’s teacher go above and beyond?
The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches and use the environment as a context for learning.
Award winners receive up to $2,500 for professional development.
The winning teacher’s local school also receives up to $2,500 to fund environmental education activities and programs.
Up to two teachers from each U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regions will receive the award.
3 – Some flies live through the winter.
During the coldest months, winter stoneflies hatch from rocky stream bottoms and crawl up through openings in the snow or ice that covers the water.
They have four wings, stay close to the snow and ice, and walk to find mates, according to information from Michigan Lake and Stream Associations.
Little is known about how these stoneflies survive freezing water and air temperatures.
What makes these flies particularly special is that they’re an indicator species. Because the flies are sensitive to poor water quality, monitoring the locations and numbers of these flies can help determine the health of a stream.
Several watershed organizations hold winter stonefly searches in lower Michigan to help understand winter stonefly populations and predict stream health.