Grassland birds are the habitat group in steepest decline across the U.S. and Canada, and we’ve witnessed a 40% decline within less than one human lifetime. At the same time, prairie restorations are on the rise with more commercially available information, seed, funding, and projects than ever. So how can we be more effective in helping stem the loss of these charismatic birds with our well-intentioned restorations? And if these methods aren’t working, what will? In this session, we’ll take a deep dive into the thatch – What are the needs of some of our most vulnerable grassland bird species? How might we incorporate these needs into our conservation actions? We’ll also provide an example of how the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and Western Michigan University partnered to create a volunteer grassland bird monitoring program that could be used as a template for others involved in grassland bird conservation.
Mitch grew up on Pickerel Lake in Scotts, Michigan, where his time spent in the backyard and the water, with encouragement from his family, nurtured his fascination in nature. This fascination matured into a pursuit of a career in the field of ecology where he worked in both research and restoration for the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Michigan Wildflower Farm, Michigan State University, and the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. At MSU Mitch received his B.S. in 2009 and his M.S. in 2013 in Environmental Biology/Zoology and Entomology, respectively. Being interested in diverse aspects of the natural world, like ornithology and botany, the emerging field of Restoration Ecology was an appealing way to roll all of these interests into one. This allowed Mitch to get his hands dirty while making a satisfying and tangible difference for the natural communities he had come to love that face an increasing amount of environmental degradation. He was thrilled to come back to SWMLC’s Stewardship Program in July 2013. Mitch looks forward to restoring natural processes and biodiversity on the Conservancy’s many preserves, as well as learning from and working with many volunteers and community members who are critical to long-term stewardship and conservation. Mitch lives in Kalamazoo, where he can be found doing anything that gets him into the out-of-doors.