Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

February 16, 2014

Ice cover a threat to many Michigan waterfowl

LANSING — Near-record ice and less open water on the Great Lakes are a growing concern for the safety of waterfowl in Michigan.

Licensed wildlife rehabilitators say they have seen a “profound” increase in reports of waterfowl stranded on roadways that they confuse with open water.

Once they land, some so-called "diver" birds cannot take off again because their bodies are adapted to lifting off from water.

Northernaire Wildlife Rescue owner Susan Good said she’s fielded at least 50 calls this year about stranded waterfowl. Typically her Cheboygan County business receives about six stranded bird reports each year.

The Department of Natural Resources Traverse City Field Office has dealt with at least 20 to 25 incidents of waterfowl stranded on roadways this year, up from about one case a year, wildlife habitat biologist Steve Griffith said. Several were run over by cars.

“They could starve if they’re left there,” said Katie Keen, a Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician in Cadillac.

The increase in ice this year may have left waterfowl struggling to find open water, Keen said.

On Feb. 12, total ice area on the Great Lakes reached about 88.4 percent, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Forecasting System. The ice cover is up from 79.7 percent the previous week and nearing the 1979 record of 95 percent ice cover on the Great Lakes, according to administration data.

A high number of reports of stranded waterfowl have come in from across the state, Keen said. But reports from the Lower Peninsula aren’t surprising to one rehabilitator.

About three weeks ago, Jerry Maynard, president and founder of Chocolay Raptor Center in Marquette County, noticed flocks of birds headed south and similar reports on bird observation blogs.

He said he hasn’t seen many waterfowl in weeks — a strange occurrence for an area that typically offers many bodies of open water.

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad