Movie Night with the Bird Center!

The Bird Center of Washtenaw County Presents:

Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds

When: Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM
Where: The Michigan Theater – 603 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104

To purchase tickets:
Visit the Michigan Theater website:

The Birds

Or purchase directly at the box office.

Meet Bird Center representatives who will tell you about the work they do rehabilitating and returning sick and injured songbirds to the wild.

Costumes are encouraged, but not required.

First 5 people to arrive in costume win a gift!

Memorial Day Newsletter

The door to the building is open-
I can hear them half a block away, loud and frantic. I can picture them, beaks wide open andnecks stretched up shoutingfeedme!feedme!feedme! And they will get fed, every 15-30 minutes. Here at the Bird Center, volunteers, interns and staff are super busy keeping up with the care of the orphaned and injured songbirds that have been brought to us.
There are 114 birds at the Center, a mix of nestlings in incubators, fledglings in mesh covered buckets, and the older birds in covered laundry baskets.
In less than 2 weeks the robins, finch and other songbird babies will transform themselves from pink skinned fuzzy nestlings to feathered fledglings and to juveniles. Then they will be transferred to a laundry basket and slowly, finally learn to be self feeding. We’re almost at capacity and it isn’t even June.
Intern Tyler Heyen, staff members Nicky Diroff and Remy Thomas, and brand new volunteer Stephanie Christau are busy cleaning baskets, feeding birds and answering the phone. Stephanie tells me she started just the day before. She found an injured robin, took it to the Humane Society and they sent her to us. She knew then and there that she wanted to volunteer and signed up on the spot! We are caring for a Horned Lark with a wing injury and a Grosbeak that has a head and shoulder injury, both birds are unable to be released and we are in contact with the Akron Zoo.
 Intern Tyler Heyen and Staff member Nicky Diroff feeding the birds.

It is with our deepest sorrow we report that the Bird Center of Washtenaw County and the rehabilitation community has lost a wonderful wildlife rehabilitator friend, and colleague.
Amanda Margraves died Saturday night in South Dade, FL.
Amanda started out her career at the Bird Center from 2005-2007 after graduating from U of M with an anthropology and zoological degree. She relocated to Georgia and then to Belize where she rehabilitated birds. She later made a home in Florida where she worked as a rehabilitater with the South Dade Wildlife Rescue Center and as a zookeeper at the Miami Zoo.
Amanda had a huge heart for animals and would go above and beyond to do anything for them. She was a big asset to the Center when it opened and to Carol Akerlof, the Center’s founder.
We send our deepest thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Amanda as they accept this sudden sad loss. Amanda would want us to continue our mission and tend to the birds.
Thank you Amanda for all that you did.

 Every year The Bird Center
sends one of our staff members to the
 National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Conference.
 This scholarship will be named
 the Amanda Musgraves scholarship
Staff member Daniella Silver holding a female Mallard Duck that had been hit by a car. She is recuperating well and we are hopeful that she will be released.
“I love working at the bird center because it has allowed me to become a part of a great community with a common passion for wildlife. I learn something new from my peers every day. I also learn from the birds, each one with its own personality.
This mallard laid an egg when she first came in. I call her big mama now”.


Dear Bird Center,
Have you ever been to the Nichols Arboretum Peony Garden? Hundreds of the plants are in bloom now! The garden is near the CS Mott Children’s Hospital. It’s the largest peony garden in the US.
 Take a picnic !
 Have a lovely weekend. Phyllis

This is an important and very informative article.
With spring finally here, meaning tick season has returned as well, Washtenaw County Public Health is reminding residents that Lyme disease has been detected here. The conditions exist for Lyme transmission to occur throughout the county. This is where it’s helpful for residents be aware – both to take preventative steps to prevent infection, but also to submit ticks for identification and testing.”
Lyme disease is spread by the tiny deer tick. Ticks feed on blood, and infected ticks transmit the disease as they feed. Although the deer tick prefers to feed on wild animals, especially mice, birds, opossum, raccoon, and deer, they will also feed on dogs, cats, livestock, and humans. When people visit or live near deer tick habitats, they run a high risk of contracting Lyme disease. For your own safety, you should become familiar with tick habits and habitats, and you should learn how to prevent tick bites.
Favorite Tick Habitats
Deer ticks prefer to live in the woods. Dense, mature woods with a thick undergrowth of shrubs and small trees are their favorite habitat (85%). They also are found, to a lesser degree, along the edge of the woods, where the woods meet lawns or fields. Very few (4–8%) are found in lawns, because properly mowed lawns are too hot and dry to sustain the tiny deer tick. Ticks prefer the cool, moist woodlands where they have a better chance of finding an animal host.
Where you live, your hobbies, and your habits may influence your risk of a tick bite. Notice in particular these high-risk factors:
   * yards surrounded by dense woods
   * birdbaths, birdfeeders
   * outdoor pets that come indoors
   * woodpiles, brushpiles, stone or rock walls
   * swingsets, treehouses in the woods
   * outdoor occupations: landscapers, utility line workers, farmers, etc.
   * outdoor recreation: freshwater fishing, camping, hiking, hunting, etc.
Many of these factors encourage wildlife near the home, and these animals may carry ticks. Mice in particular are known hosts of immature deer ticks and carriers of Lyme disease. Reduce, remove, or avoid these risk factors as much as possible.
Personal Protection
Outdoor pursuits need not be discontinued as long as precautions are taken to prevent a tick bite:
   * Wear light-colored clothing (ticks are easier to see).
   * Wear long pants tucked into socks.
   * Avoid tall grass and shrubby areas.
   * Widen trails through woods (to 6 feet).
   * Remove brushpiles.
   * Keep turfgrass mowed.
   * Thin out low shrub vegetation in woods.
   * Wear a tick repellent.
Repellents contain the active ingredient permethrin (Duranon, Permethrin Tick Repellent, Permanone), or N,N-diethyl-meta-tolumide, usually called DEET (Off, Cutters, Muskol, etc.)* Follow label directions; apply until clothing is damp and allow to dry. These products repel 82-100% of ticks.
Tick Identification
Seventy percent of all Lyme disease cases occur from the bite of the immature (nymph) deer tick. Before feeding, nymphs are the size of a poppy seed with a dark head and translucent body. After feeding, they swell and appear dark gray and round, about the size of a mustard seed.
Adult deer ticks are the size of a sesame seed before feeding; females have a black head and brick red abdomen. After feeding, they turn gray and swell to the size of a sunflower seed kernel.
Deer ticks are active all year round, as long as the temperature is over 35°F. Peak activity months are May-June (nymphs), and October-November (adults).
Ask your county extension agent for a free copy of the bulletin “Protect Yourself from Ticks and Lyme Disease” for specific ways to identify different ticks.
Finding and Removing Ticks
Ticks don’t fly, jump, or drop from trees. They inhabit shrubby vegetation (nymphs: four- to six-inch vegetation; adults: waist-high vegetation) and wait for an animal to brush by. They then grasp the animal’s fur or skin, and crawl up the body. Ticks will wander on the body for 30-60 minutes before they insert their mouth-parts and begin to feed.
INFECTED DEER TICKS MUST FEED FOR AT LEAST 12 TO 24 HOURS before they can begin to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium. Therefore you should remove ticks as soon as possible. Take a shower after outdoor activity and check your body thoroughly, paying close attention to the armpits, the groin, and neck. Use the buddy system! Look for ticks nightly, especially if you have young children.
Remove ticks with tweezers only (bent, “needle-nose” tweezers are best). Do not use alcohol, nail polish, hot matches, petroleum jelly, or other methods to remove ticks. These methods may actually traumatize ticks, causing them to regurgitate gut contents, which may include the Lyme disease bacterium.
More information about Lyme disease and tick-borne disease prevention is available on the county’s website.
Washtenaw County Public Health encourages residents to submit ticks for identification, noting blacklegged ticks found in Washtenaw County tested positive for the Lyme pathogen in 2016.
The more local ticks are tested, the better the county will know how widespread the risk of Lyme disease is in different areas of the county.
The state also has a program to identify ticks, and if it is a live blacklegged tick, test for Lyme disease. Information is available on the state’s website.
Ask your county extension agent for a free copy of the bulletin “Protect Yourself from Ticks and Lyme Disease” for specific ways to identify different ticks.

Early May Newsletter

Dear Bird Center,
May 8 will be the opening day of this season. Abundant rain and warm weather have hastened the flowering of the trees and flowers in gardens and along the streets crabapple, cherry, tulip magnolias, all in bloom. In my garden, a pair of chickadees are building a nest in the wren’s house.
The Bird Center will be open from 7AM until 9PM . The ivy covering the building was beginning to damage the walls. 63 bags of ivy were removed by the hardworking team of  Volunteer Maintenance Jamie Rivard, Gabby, Don Garlit, Bee Friedlander and Zachary Mobley. Gabby planted pansies and tulips in the garden.
Last week, April 21, there were 7 birds and 12 Mallard duck eggs at the Bird Center. The mother duck had been nesting in a secluded corner outside a UM dormitory building and was killed by a dog. Two students found the nest and brought us the still warm eggs. Staff member Rachel Gumpper determined that they were fertile and put the grey-green eggs in one of the incubators, marking them on each side to indicate how to turn them 3 times a day just as the mother duck would.
We also have 2 flickers. one has a head injury and the other is blind in one eye, a downy woodpecker and a fledgling dove. We also have a male Mallard duck that was hit by a car and suffered a head injury.
Our building is also a polling station! In preparation for the Tuesday, May 2 City election, the Bird Center was cleaned and the birds were moved by Gabby and volunteers over to the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital.  Wednesday the birds will be moved back to the Bird Center.
Thanks for the great work done by volunteers Elise and Tim Muftitt, Zachary Mobley and Kathy Scott!
April 30 there are 13 birds including a Baltimore Oriole with a ruptured air sack, a common in birds caught by cats.
I took my granddaughter over to the AAAH to see the progress of the 12 duck eggs. We were excited to see that 10 had hatched over the past 24 hours! They are delightful to watch, brown and yellow babies peeping and hopping around in the incubator.
After 2 weeks of care, the male Mallard appeared ready to be released but needed to be flight tested. Seana, Andrea and Gabby took him to Hunt Park where there is a tennis court surrounded by a very high fence. The plan was to let him fly, but to be able to catch him again in case he had problems .Everyone was hoping for the best but nervous because the duck had been in such bad shape when he was brought to the Bird Center. To their delight, he was tipped out of the carrier, flew up, over the fence and away to life in the wild.
     Every year we raise about 100 baby mallards and wood ducks. We have each one for about 6 weeks and release it just before it can fly. We house them in plastic bins with lights for heat until they grow too big, then we move them to play pens, where they will need heat for a while more. Underfoot they have outdoor carpet, which needs to be changed, hosed off, and put out to dry. We could use some people either just for this year or to make a long term commitment,
Ducks are pretty charming and do not need constant care. It would be a mess to do this if you lived in an apartment and a good place is on a screen porch. We have plastic bins, playpens, heat lights, waterers, and mats ready to go. People would probably buy their own food.
Call the Bird Center at 734-761-9640 if you are interested in raising ducklings in your home.
25 new and potential volunteers were welcomed by Bird Center Clinic Manager Gabby. Staff member Andrea Auito talked about her experiences working at the Bird Center. Bird Team Volunteer Coordinator Rachel Schwartz is in charge of new volunteers. Phyllis Ponvert will be interviewing volunteers and staff for the newsletter. Kaisa Ryding talked about the basics of rehabilitation.
We had a visit from the Bird Center’s educational bird, Blue. Our Blue Jay visits schools and retirement communities to tell them about the work we do and the importance of protecting birds and the environment.  Blue shares her time between care takers Rayelene Mieske and Ken Antkowiak.
There were many lively discussions and lots of questions from the group. It was a big success!
Sherri Smith
        Monday evening I came home to find a phone message that there was a loon down in the median strip of US 23 south of Ann Arbor at mile 33.  I gathered up my loon catching and handling stuff and fought my way thru traffic toward where he was reported.  I drove on the left lane and pulled over onto the wide shoulder when I spotted him, a Common Loon, in a bathtub sized body of water, in big trouble.  I put on my goggles and heavy gloves and grabbed my net.  I had him hauled out of the water and was working to make him go in a big cat carrier a minute later.  I bet hardly anyone even saw it.  Loons are big, strong and fierce, glad to put out your eyes with their long sharp beak.  On my way home I realized that he was not only dirty but probably slightly oiled from the highway. My informant (great eyes to have noticed that he wasn’t just a duck) said that she saw him pulling himself thru the grass with his wings.  He needed a bath.  I recruited Keith Taylor and his wife Kris to help me and we headed off for one of the classrooms where I teach in the School of Art and Design.  It has large sinks and doesn’t run out of hot water.
It took all three of us to wash him, Kris immobilized the very dangerous head, Keith held his body and I washed various parts of him in turn. We needed occasional help from amazed students who were there working. He did not make the loon call, but made plenty of nasty remarks about us.  Then we had to rinse him at length to make him waterproof again.  You can’t leave any trace of Dawn, detergent of rehabbers, in them.  Their feathers, when detergent free, turn dry under running water.  This is true of all birds, not just water birds.  It was getting dark when we took him out to Barton Pond and poured him out of the cat carrier.  We could see his pretty long legs kicking off from the shallow bottom like a frog until he got into deeper water and could swim properly.
Why was he in the medium strip of the highway?  We think the sudden hard rains of the day combined with one of those violent down drafts forced him to the ground where he could be discovered by mere chance.*see below
Sherri Smith is a staff member and long time volunteer at The Bird Center
and expert bird rescuer.  
  • The Common Loon swims underwater to catch fish, propelling itself with its feet. It swallows most of its prey underwater. The loon has sharp, rearward-pointing projections on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help it keep a firm hold on slippery fish.
  • Loons are water birds, only going ashore to mate and incubate eggs. Their legs are placed far back on their bodies, allowing efficient swimming but only awkward movement on land.
  • Loons are agile swimmers, but they move pretty fast in the air, too. Migrating loons have been clocked flying at speeds more than 70 mph.
  • A hungry loon family can put away a lot of fish. Biologists estimate that loon parents and their 2 chicks can eat about a half-ton of fish over a 15-week period.
  • Loons are like airplanes in that they need a runway for takeoff. In the case of loons, they need from 30 yards up to a quarter-mile (depending on the wind) for flapping their wings and running across the top of the water in order to gain enough speed for lift-off.
  • Loons are well equipped for their submarine maneuvers to catch fish. Unlike most birds, loons have solid bones that make them less buoyant and better at diving. They can quickly blow air out of their lungs and flatten their feathers to expel air within their plumage, so they can dive quickly and swim fast underwater. Once below the surface, the loon’s heart slows down to conserve oxygen.
  • Like many young birds, juvenile loons are really on their own after mom and dad leave at about 12 weeks. The parents head off on migration in the fall, leaving juveniles to gather into flocks on northern lakes and make their own journey south a few weeks later. Once the juveniles reach coastal waters on the ocean, they stay there for the next two years. In the third year, young loons return north, although they may not breed for several more years (on average they are six years old when they start breeding).
  • *Migrating Common Loons occasionally land on wet highways or parking lots, mistaking them for rivers and lakes. They become stranded without a considerable amount of open water for a long takeoff. A loon may also get stranded on a pond that is too small.
  •  Loons from the Great Lakes region migrate to the Gulf of Mexico or Florida coasts.
Washtenaw Community College held its Volunteer Fair March 28.
The Bird Center joined 29 other non- profit organizations that have opportunities for volunteers. Staff member Maureen Smith and Bird Team volunteer Phyllis Ponvert talked with students about the mission and work of the Bird Center and why volunteers are such an important part of the success of the Center.
This weekend get out your boots and umbrella and take a walk in the rain. There are wild flowers in Eberwhite woods.

Early April Newsletter

Early April 2017 newsletter
Our 13th year of saving wild birds

Dear Friends,
The Bird Center will be open and staffed starting Monday May 8th at 7AM!
The migrating birds are coming back, and I hear lots of birdsong and activity. We have a few more birds at the Center: a cardinal, a dove, a titmouse, and a junco. We are receiving email requests for volunteer applications. We’re getting ready for the new season.

2017 Volunteer Orientation
We need volunteers to help care for and feed young and injured song birds for our 2017 season May-September at our Ann Arbor, MI location. Please join us for our Volunteer Orientation on Saturday, April 29 from 9:30 – 12 noon.
Room 319 in the Gunder Myran Building at Washtenaw Community College campus.  We will discuss our organization and volunteer opportunities.

Flyaway, our annual Bird Center fundraiser and silent auction, took place the evening of March 28th at the Matthaei Botanical Garden’s Conservatory.
From 7 to 10 PM guests wandered through the candlelit tropical and desert gardens and enjoyed the delicious buffet.  The silent auction was a great success. We were honored to have Yousef Rabhi, MI State Rep (D-Ann Arbor) as our speaker. Rep. Rabhi enthusiastically supports the Bird Center’s continuing work of protecting wild birds and the environment through our rehabilitation and education programs.
❦   Carol Akerlof, Director and founder of the Bird Center of Washtenaw County, is retiring after 13 years of devoted work on behalf of our local wild songbirds. Thank you from all of us at the Bird Center, Carol, and
thank you from the birds.
Juvenile Cedar Waxwings
   Board member Molly Osler presenting Carol Akerlof with a gift basket.
She received chocolate (Carol’s favorite!)and a beautiful silk scarf made by Carol Furtado, Ann Arbor fiber artist and long time supporter of our work.
  Staff member Daniela Silver with our educational bird, Blue.
Board member Bee Friedlander introducing MI State Rep. Yousef Rabhi.
Staff members Seana Florida and Rachel Gumpper
Rachel with her silent auction purchase,
a Polish paper cutout.
Beautiful! Bee and Molly present Staff                                                                   member Gabby Costello with  an orchid.
Board member Georgette Hansen enjoying some tasty food.
Koi in the Conservatory fish pond

How Different Spring Migrants Decide When to Head North
Will warmer weather bring the birds back early? It all depends on what type of migrators they are.
By Kenn Kaufman
Spring officially started March 20, but for many of us it had already begun. Back in February, unseasonably warm temperatures swept over much of North America, buds began opening on trees, and flowers began to bloom weeks early. Naturally, birders began to ask: Will our migratory birds come back earlier, too?
That question doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer because the timing of bird migration is . . . complicated. Every species is slightly different; short-term changes in weather do have an impact, but so do a variety of other innate and environmental factors. Here’s a quick primer on how North American avians schedule their spring journeys to aid in your own birding ventures.
Two Types of Migrants
To figure out how migrating birds could be affected by balmy weather, we should start by categorizing them into two groups: obligate and facultative (to use the fancy terms). These labels aren’t ironclad-many birds fall somewhere between these extremes-but the definitions are helpful in understanding what triggers a species’ migration.  For obligate migrants, the timing of travel is dictated by hard-wired instinct. An unusually warm or cool season won’t make them suddenly decide to change their departure dates. They’ll move at about the same time each year, regardless of weather. Meanwhile, facultative migrants are more tuned in to the conditions of the moment. They have a standard timing for their migration, but they might tweak it by days, or even weeks, if the season is chillier or more temperate than usual. They’re flexible.
So how does this work during spring migration? When birds start moving north from their winter homes, the hard-wired, obligate migrants run like clockwork. That includes certain songbirds, raptors, shorebirds, and others that commute between the far north and the deep tropics or temperate southern zone. A Blackburnian Warbler spending the winter in South America or a Wood Thrush wintering in Costa Rica won’t have any way to judge what’s happening up the United States and Canada. Such species may wait for clear skies and favorable winds to launch each stage in their journey, but a major warm spell won’t cue an early arrival.
Meanwhile, most of the flexible, facultative migrants are birds that only move short distances, wintering right in the United States. This allows them to sense local conditions and seize opportunities to move closer to their breeding grounds. Overall weather patterns tend to apply to broad regions, so if the season continues to be warm, facultative birds may gradually move north ahead of schedule. For example, if the weather is mild in late February, a Fox Sparrow in Tennessee might guess that life won’t be too bad a few hundred miles farther up in Ohio. Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, American Woodcocks, Killdeers, Eastern Phoebes, and even Tree Swallows are other species that may turn up earlier than average during a warm spring.
Most parulids (new world warblers) winter deep in the tropics, and the timing of their northward migration is dictated by instinct. Yellow-rumped Warblers, however, may be more flexible because they mainly winter in the southern United States. Thinking of birds this way makes it easier to predict their arrival. Will the warblers come back early this year? Yellow-rumped Warblers might, because they’re short-distance migrants, wintering mostly in the southern states. Hooded Warblers won’t, because they’re obligate migrants, wintering deep in the tropics.
It’s even easier to understand the difference if we also consider fall migration. Among obligate migrants in North America, Orchard Orioles may start their southward journeys in July, and Yellow Warblers may travel south in August. At that time the weather is still pleasant and food is abundant, so obviously these birds aren’t driven out by cold weather-they just go when instinct tells them to. By contrast, facultative migrants may linger until conditions egg them on. Ducks, geese, and swans need open water, and although some migrate early, others may stay north until their habitat freezes over. The severity of the season may even influence how far south they go for the winter. The Sandhill Crane is another good example of a facultative migrant; in recent years, some Sandhill populations have been migrating later in fall and earlier in spring, while spending the winter farther north than they ever had in the past.
Waterfowl like these Tundra Swans have a typical window of time for their migrations, but they also need open water. An unusually cold spring may delay their northward migration until their habitat thaws.
Built-in Adaptability
Now, if a bird is a stickler for schedule, can it change its migration timing? Yes, but not in its lifetime: The species will make the shift over multiple generations. As with any other instinctive behavior, migration windows can evolve over time. That adaptability is based on survival.
The perfect time for a bird to arrive on its breeding grounds is a balance of two pressures. On one hand, it needs to arrive early to claim prime territory. On the other hand, if it moves north too far or too fast, it might freeze or starve. In every population of migratory birds, individuals vary somewhat in their timing. Those that hit the sweet spot and arrive at the perfect time are more likely to nest and raise young successfully, so their genes are more likely to be passed along to the next generation.
If the climate changes so that warm spring temperatures creep up earlier, birds that arrive earlier may have the advantage. Not only will the early bird get the worm, it may also get the best territory and the healthiest mate and raise more young than its slowpoke neighbors. If the genes for early migration are passed along to more of the offspring, then over a span of many generations, the average timing of arrival of the entire population will gradually shift. Other factors could be at work as well: For example, one study of Black-tailed Godwits suggests that females will lay eggs earlier in a warmer season, and that young birds that hatch at the beginning of the summer will migrate earlier the next spring.
Scientists are still working to understand just how different species can alter their travel calendars. But with rapid climate change already under way, the concern is that some migratory birds may not be able to evolve quickly enough to keep up. You can pitch in and help experts keep track of these patterns by plugging your spring-migration sightings into databases like eBird and Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home.

Thank you to everyone who has offered to help. We should be in good shape for a smooth transition to the Ann Arbor Animal Hospital and back again.