WPBO’s Annual Celebration of Spring Migration

April 29-30, 2017

April 29-30, 2017 will mark the 29th Annual Spring Fling: WPBO’s Celebration of Bird Migration, when members and their guests “migrate” to Paradise, Michigan and the Whitefish Point area to visit with old friends, both human and avian. Many activities are being planned for another refreshing weekend of birding experiences.

2017 Spring Fling Schedule 2017 Spring Fling Member Registration 2017 Spring Fling Non-Member Registration Lodging near the Point is available at a variety of places.  View options here.

Keynote Address

Hawks on the Wing: Seeing beyond field marks by Josh Haasrough-legged-hawk-1-josh-haas

Hawks in flight bring a sense of wonder and a struggle to birders, especially when it comes to identifying them at a distance. Field marks are not enough when back-lit conditions and birds miles out lack any color. Flight ID has long been the best way to identify hawks at a distance, however books only take it so far. Join hawk watcher Josh Haas for an informative and innovative new way of identifying hawks on the wing as he releases a brand new DVD titled “Hawks on the Wing” at Spring Fling 2017. This DVD brings an innovative new way to learning hawk ID in flight. Instead of only hearing descriptive narratives on the subject, Josh’s program and DVD feature side-by-side videos of hawks in flight, making conquering the technique much faster and easier. He will also share the principles of how hawks migrate so efficiently and why Michigan is a hawk watching paradise both in spring and fall.

Josh Haas first developed a love for raptors working with the Birds of Prey at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. josh-haas-1Perplexed by seeing specks at a distance with an overwhelming itch to know what they were, he started learning from veteran hawkwatchers along Lake Erie and was immediately hooked. He would end up spending six fall seasons working with the Detroit River Hawkwatch as a relief counter where he honed his skills and developed a love for teaching visitors unique ways of telling the shadowy specs apart. He is now the president of Battle Creek MI Audubon and co-owner of Glances at Nature Photography and Birding Tours. Both have expanded his love for teaching others and sharing what he loves about the natural world is at his core. Josh has a passion in all things birds and also shares this in the form of his bird photography which can be seen on-line and in Michigan publications.




Bird Songs and Vocalizations by Bob Pettit

To many observers, identifying birds has become an art form. To make the proper identification, one is to look for “field marks,” observe unique behaviors, and listen for significant utterances. Now we are told that any single character is not infallible and that we should instead look at the “holistic picture” of the avian visitor. Regardless of one’s skill level, every passing bird presents a challenge that we must meet head on. In this workshop, you will be presented with methods that will start you in a positive direction of mastering bird song identification. You will be introduced to Bob’s unique methods of learning songs, and you will delight in the experience of adding another aspect to your birding enjoyment.

A Flat Rock, Michigan resident Bob Pettit is Biology Professor Emeritus after teaching 42 years at Monroe County Community College. Bob has been observing birds since his youth. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees (biology/ornithology) from Central Michigan University and has been a bird study instructor at the National Audubon Camp of Wisconsin for 11 summers. He has conducted workshops on Hawk ID and Learning Bird Song for over 30 years and has taught a birding field course for 35 years. Bob has been a volunteer raptor observer (2,000+ hours) with Holiday Beach Migration Observatory (hbmo.org) for over 30 years and is the past-president and current board member of the organization. He has been an officer in several local (Erie Shores Birding Association; a current board member and former chairperson), state (a board member and former chairperson of WPBO), and national raptor organization (a board member and former chairperson of Hawk Migration Association of North America). He is the 2012 recipient of the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s Conservation Educator of the Year (Ontario). He has traveled and birded throughout the U.S., Porta Rico, parts of Costa Rica on two visits, and has made one trip to the Ecuador mainland and the Galapagos Islands.


Piping Plovers by Vince Cavalieri

The Great Lakes piping plover is one of the most critically endangered species in the region. Once they inhabited sandy beaches across the whole Great Lakes basin and numbered many hundreds of pairs. Development, increases in recreation pressure at their breeding beaches, increased predator numbers and other factors reduced the population down to as few as 12 pairs and reduced the range to a small area of northern Michigan. Listed as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act in 1986, intense conservation efforts have helped the species increase in number and range but Great Lakes piping plovers remain critically endangered. This talk will focus on the history of the recovery effort and what is being done to protect Great Lakes piping plovers today.

Vince Cavalieri is originally from the Upper Peninsula (Iron Mountain). He has been birding since he was 7 years old and started working on bird research projects when still in high school and continued working on bird field jobs during summers in college. During this time he worked for the USFWS at Seney NWR, for the US Forest Service in the UP and for several Universities. These projects were diverse and Vince helped on projects studying Kirtland’s Warbler, American Redstarts, Trumpeter Swans and a suite of openland birds that occur in the UP such as Upland Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Grouse and grassland songbirds.  Cavalieri also spent one summer studying Mountain Plovers in northern Montana. For his bachelor’s degree, he majored in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State University and then went on to get a master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology from Oklahoma State University. Vince’s master’s thesis involved studying habitat use of Cerulean Warblers and other forest songbirds in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. After completing his graduate degree Vince worked for the Oklahoma cooperative fish and wildlife research unit on a project in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas for two years. Cavalieri then returned to Michigan to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species biologist and lead biologist for the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery program. He has been in his current position for seven years.


Pre and Post Spring Fling Field Trips

Birding in Paradise

Searching for Spruce Grouse

These field trips are not part of your basic Spring Fling registration, but you can register for them along with your Spring Fling registration, or separately.