ROSCOMMON–The Kirtland’ Warbler Weekend on June 3–4 delivered an economic boost to the Roscommon area, drawing people from as far away as California, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina and Florida! This event brings an awareness to the endangered songbird that will ensure its ability to thrive for generations to come. Although the Kirtland’ Warbler has made a comeback in recent years thanks to careful management, the bird is very selective about its nesting sites and continued human intervention is needed to sustain the right habitat. Continuing that management for the Warbler will have lasting impacts not only on the bird, but on the communities of Northeast Michigan’ bringing not just birders, but also canoeists, hikers, bikers and other recreationists to the area.
The weekend started off with a Friday evening Home Opener at the RAM Center on Higgins Lake that offered Michigan craft beer and wine served up by Roscommon’ Fifth Street Wines while silent auction items were examined, especially the exquisite Kirtland’ Warbler carving crafted by Michael Van Houzen. The evening was topped off by Dr. Nathan Cooper of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center presenting on the use of geolocators to study the fall migration of the Kirtland’ Warbler.
On Saturday, in its second year back, the Kirtland’ Warbler Festival has found a home in downtown Roscommon, MI. This year’ theme was ‘Healthy Habitats-Healthy Communities,’ encompassed by many of the different activities and vendor organizations. There was an early morning pancake breakfast, Kirtland’ Warbler tours in the jack pine forest, music, kids’ tent with face painting, birdhouse building, crosswords and word searches, corn hole and ‘skins and skulls’ that kids could handle. The fan favorite was the ‘hands-on’ snake display by Jim and Carol McGrath from Nature Discovery. Vendors offered a great assortment of products such as Kirtland’ Warbler merchandise, local maple syrup, local handmade pottery and many organizational booths highlighted local interests and activities in northern Michigan.
The afternoon featured four nature presentations covering a variety of topics, including birding by ear, the jack pine barrens, bringing together conservation and community, and how to attract birds to your backyard. The Michigan Nature Association held a Kirtland’ Warbler 1K kids’ fun run and a 5K race at North Higgins Lake State Park, with the top male and female finishers receiving a prize. To wrap up the festival, a group of participants enjoyed a guided kayak tour on the South Branch of the Au Sable River.
Huron Pines is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and equal opportunity provider with a mission to conserve the forests, lakes and streams of Northeast Michigan. Huron Pines believes that through active leadership and coordination of conservation projects, we make the region a better place to live, work and enjoy.