By MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS
TRAVERSE CITY — The American kestrel may not be endangered, but some of its populations are decreasing because of habitat alteration.
For Al White, the bird is symbolic of what's happening to wildlife and nature everywhere.
"It's fast disappearing," said White, an artist and conservationist from Cedar and Hickory Corners near Kalamazoo.
White's watercolor of a kestrel is part of an upcoming show that will benefit Saving Birds Thru Habitat. The Omena-based education organization is aimed at protecting, enhancing and restoring habitat for North American birds.
"The core message is that every individual can help native birds by incorporating native plants into their yards, because only native plants host the insect abundance native birds feed on and feed their babies," said Executive Director Kay Charter.
The show runs Thursday, Aug. 9-Sunday, Aug. 12 at Gallery 22 south of Suttons Bay. It features painting, photography and 3D works portraying songbirds, bird habitat, native plants and insects. Proceeds from an opening night reception and 30 percent of the show's sales will be donated to Saving Birds.
"It's not a huge moneymaker, but it's fun and it gets people aware of our organization and that's what it's all about," said Gina Erb, Saving Birds' president and organizer of the second annual show.
Erb said the funds will help with the organization's annual operating expenses of about $50,000.
"We're an education center, so we do a lot of programs, we do a lot of field trips," she said. "We have three acres and a building that needs to be maintained and an executive director that needs to be paid. And she's one in a million."
The show features about a dozen artists, including wildlife artists from Gallery 22. That's just one of the reasons the gallery agreed to host the show, said Dawn Russell, one of three artist co-owners.
"As owners we all live in (Leelanau) County and we wanted to be involved with organizations that preserve the environment in the county," she said.
White is a volunteer at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Augusta, Mich., and a Leelanau Conservancy supporter. He said he donates much of his work to conservation-minded nonprofits to help them raise money.
"I've always been involved with nature," said the one-time Boy Scout, farmer and landscape architect who creates his own picture frames from birchwood. "I backpack, snowshoe. I'd like to see as much as I can before it's gone."
Tickets for the Aug. 9 opening night reception are $30 and include wine and hors d'oeuvres from 22 Vines & Wines. For more information, call 271-2244 or 271-3738.