Join MNA for the 25th annual WPBO Spring Fling

By Annie Perry, MNA Intern

Just as birds migrate north when winter becomes spring, so will Whitefish Point Observatory members, MNA members and their guests—although their migration only lasts a weekend—as they head to Whitefish Point for the 25th annual WPBO Spring Fling. This weekend of birding activities from April 26-28 gives attendees a chance to learn more about avian migration and conservation in the Great Lakes from fellow birders, field trip leaders and guest speakers.

A Great Gray Owl. Photo by Marian Szengel. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Spring Fling features two main workshops on Saturday that teach participants about Great Gray Owls and some local bird species in the Whitefish Point area. Other special events include a talk on piping plover monitoring, bird walks around the point, and owl viewings at dusk and dawn. There are also optional pre- and post-Fling field trips: Birding in Paradise on April 26 and Searching for Spruce Grouse on April 28. Visit the WPBO website for a detailed events schedule.

This year’s banquet speaker is Alicia King, communications coordinator and Urban Bird Treaty coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Program. Alicia was the director of the Bird Conservation Alliance at American Bird Conservatory before joining the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, served as a host on the “BirdWatch” T.V. program for PBS and hosted the Bird Feature segment on “Discover the Wild” for Wyoming PBS. She is the author of the Orvis Beginners Guide to Birdwatching and has written several book chapters, educational brochures and magazine articles. And, to add to her avian experience, she currently serves on the board for the American Ornithologists Union Committee on Conservation.

Always something new

Spring Fling Chair Mary Wise’s favorite part of the event is that you never know what you’re going to get from the weather or the birds.

“It can be anything from freezing cold to 70s and sunny, and the birds just don’t care,” she said.

Spring Fling birdwatchers a few years ago saw a snowy owl—a species that only visits Michigan in the winter—and an avocet—a southern and western shorebird that doesn’t regularly appear in Michigan, especially in April—on the same stretch of beach in the same day. They didn’t see any incredibly rare birds two years ago, but they did have a strong hawk migration all weekend and witnessed a flight on Sunday with at least 13 hawk species.

Mary added that there’s something for everyone, whether they’re experienced birders or just beginning.

“If people are already into birdwatching, it’s a great place to hang out and see some really good birds,” she said. “If they are new, well, it’s a great place to hang out and learn birds! There’s always something to look at there.”

Registration is $25 for adults and $12.50 for children for Saturday workshops only. All participants must be registered by April 16. Contact Adrienne Bozic for more information at