The process of defining an IBA requires solid data and approval by the Michigan IBA Technical Committee. There are many examples of suspected IBAs for which we don't have enough data to make a decision. One example is of the massive concentrations of Long-tailed Ducks seen by birders during late winter and spring along the lower peninsula's Lake Michigan shoreline. Usually, these birds are one mile or more out from shore, and form dark clouds of birds when they take flight.
This Saturday Jan 5, a committed group of birders will attempt the first-ever organized count of these birds, standing guard at six locations including Manistee, Ludington, Little Sable Pt (Oceana County), Muskegon, Grand Haven, Saugatuck, and South Haven. Coordinated by Chip Francke (Grand Haven Parks) and Kip Miller (leader of the Berrien Birding Club), the January 5 count will involve the first known attempt at quantifying these large flocks. If enough birds are found, this information could be used to help delineate an Important Bird Area.
We plan to attempt a second, follow-up, count in March. If you would like to join the efforts, or start a similar effort at a local site, please email the Michigan IBA Coordinator, Caleb Putnam.