ROSCOMMON – There is reason why we love to live in northern Michigan. We are right in the middle of bountiful wildlife and a tranquil environment. A perfect place to experience and fall in love with “Up North” is in “Well Natured” Roscommon. A perfect time will be June 2 and 3, 2017 when the Kirtland’s Warbler Home Opener and Festival unfold with a fun-filled weekend of celebrating all that is unique and special about Northeast Michigan—the heart of Kirtland’s Country!
The Kirtland’s Warbler is sometimes called the comeback bird. In 1973, when the Endangered Species act was passed, the Kirtland’s Warbler was the first bird species to be placed on the list. At that time, there were scarcely 200 birds in the world and most of them nested within 50 miles of Roscommon. Today there are more than 2,000 nesting pairs (4,000 birds) spread across nine central northern Michigan counties, as well as in Wisconsin and Ontario. It is a real conservation success story, rooted in our communities.
The weekend of events kicked off with the 4th Annual Kirtland’s Warbler Home Opener hosted by the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance on Friday, June 2 from 6-9 p.m. at Forest Dunes Golf Club (6376 Forest Dunes Road, Roscommon).
This fun, social evening included a silent auction, Michigan inspired appetizers, beer and wine, music by the Roscommon High School jazz band and presentation by Michigan advocate and author David Dempsey. Mr. Dempsey has been active in conservation since 1982 and he will draw on his experience as environmental advisor to Michigan Governor James J. Blanchard.
The Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance thanks the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, Au Sable North Branch Area Foundation, American Bird Conservancy and the Kalamazoo Nature Center for their generous sponsorship of this year’s event.
The fun continues Saturday with the Kirtland’s Warbler Festival starting at 7 a.m. Headquartered at the CRAF Center (606 Lake Street, Roscommon), this year’s festival boasts a new partnership with the Roscommon Historic Model Train Club, bringing the area’s transportation history and conservation legacy together. Tours to Kirtland’s Warbler habitat depart at 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
In addition to trips into the jack pine forest, the Festival Committee is pleased to be partnering with Michigan Nature Association (MNA) to provide a guided hike to the Leila and Howard Jackson Memorial Nature Sanctuary—a protected bog habitat. Bogs are rare and sensitive sites and this tour isn’t offered very often. Sign up for an opportunity to view this incredibly important piece of the Roscommon natural landscape, filled with beautiful leather-leaf and other unique plant species. Participants are asked to register in advance with MNA by calling 517-599-5050.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the CRAF center will be abuzz with vendor booths, kids’ activities, an interactive presentation by Jim McGrath of Nature Discovery showcasing live examples of every turtle species in Michigan, and dynamic workshops on the Kirtland’s Warbler.
Featured speakers include:
Ancilleno Davis, a student at Miami of Ohio University and native Bahamian who has been working on Kirtland’s Warbler wintering grounds conservation. Davis will discuss those efforts and share interesting facts on the habitat and behaviors of the Kirtland’s Warbler during the fall and winter months.
Jerry Weinrich, retired Michigan DNR Wildlife Biologist, will provide an up-close introduction to his work on Bald Eagle and Osprey surveys that span over four decades and discuss the incredible conservation work that is supporting these key bird species.
Jim McGrath will share his wealth of knowledge on the state’s amazing and plentiful wildlife and, new this year to the line-up, a nature photography how-to presentation from Michael and Teresa Lynn McGill of McGill’s Nature in Motion. If you’re a photographer who is passionate about nature and wildlife photography this is for you! Presentations run from 1-4 p.m.
How can you get in on the action?! Purchase your commemorative button for $5 which get you into all of Saturday’s activities. They can be purchased at the CRAF Center on June 3 or in advance at the Huron Pines office in Gaylord, the Roscommon Historic Model Train Club, the Roscommon County Voice and the Higgins Lake-Roscommon Chamber of Commerce office. These one of a kind buttons feature winning artwork from the 2017 Kirtland’s Warbler Young Artists Calendar Contest.
To stay up-to-date on all Festival details, visit www.kirtlandswarblerfestival.org. See you in Kirtland’s Country!