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'Wildlife Through Forestry' Songbird forum in Marquette
Michigan Ag Connection - 05/14/2018

From work to recover threatened and endangered species, including piping plovers and Kirtland's warblers, to studying edge effects on songbirds in northern Wisconsin, three biologists assembled to speak at a forum in Marquette this month are highly-skilled in their professions.

Their previous working locations range from the Midwest to Texas and Oklahoma to Latin America and Hawaii.

"May is a prime time to talk about songbirds, especially with the spectacular spring bird migration under way here in Michigan," said Gary Willis, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources service forester from the Baraga office. "This is the time of year birdwatchers are focused on a vast variety of returning songbirds."

The event, which features Katie Koch and Vince Cavalieri of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and David Flaspohler from the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Tech, will be from 6 to 9 p.m., May 17 in the Michigan Room at the University Center on the campus of Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

Koch is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who founded the Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership and Midwest Avian Data Center. She has served on more than two dozen regional and national teams. Koch is focused on conservation of birds in northern forest landscapes, launching the Midwest Migration Network, sustain Kirtland's warbler throughout their annual cycle, and growing the Midwest Avian Data Center to be the 1-stop shop for bird information throughout the Midwest region.

Cavalieri is also a wildlife biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service. There, he has been the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery coordinator for five years. His primary interest is in ecology and conservation of birds, including cerulean warblers, mountain plovers, Kirtland's warblers and trumpeter swans. Cavalieri worked previously for the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas.

Flaspohler has been an avian conservation biologist in the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science for two decades. He received his master's degree and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied edge effects on songbirds in northern Wisconsin. Since then, he has conducted research in other parts of the Great Lakes region, Hawaii and several countries in Latin America.

"This event, the latest in a fascinating series of 'Wildlife Through Forestry' forums held in the western Upper Peninsula over the past several months, comes on the heels of a raptor forum held at NMU last month," said John Pepin, DNR deputy public information officer. "These sessions link wildlife topics to the numerous ways habitat for birds and animals may be developed and enhanced for a range of species on private lands."

The forums have been presented by the DNR with funding from a Natural Resources Conservation Service grant.

Each of these sessions has included a presentation on an interesting and important wildlife-related topic, with additional information provided to private landowners on the value of a Forest Stewardship Plan.

"We've had a great time at these sessions and we anticipate the songbird forum to be no exception," Willis said.

A panel of resource professionals will be on hand to discuss the development, preparation and implementation of Forest Stewardship Plans.

More than 150 professional foresters and 20 wildlife biologists develop Forest Stewardship Plans for forest landowners in Michigan. For information about these plans or the Commercial Forest Program, contact Gary Willis, DNR Service Forester, 427 U.S. 41 North, Baraga, Michigan, 49908; 906-353-6651, ext. 122 or

Many county conservation districts in Michigan have foresters on staff available for a free site visit to private landowner properties. They can discuss landowner wildlife habitat and forestry goals and help decide if there are financial assistance programs that can provide cost sharing for resource management plan preparation and implementation.

For Marquette County, contact Matt Watkeys, forester, at or call the Marquette County Conservation District office at 906-226-8871, ext. 128.

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