We are so pleased to share with you the 2019 Spring field season staff for Whitefish Point Bird Observatory. As one of our objectives with our work at WPBO is education, we select qualified, enthusiastic, experienced candidates who can bring our mission of connecting birds and people for the benefit of both to this special place. While their work in the field — whether it’s bird monitoring or owl banding — is rooted in avian monitoring and research efforts, these folks also work to share their knowledge, insights, and experience with you visitors and enhance their understanding and appreciation of migration, habitat, and history of Whitefish Point.

Chris Neri and Nova Mackentley

Spring Owl Banders: Nova Mackentley and Chris Neri
Each Spring, we welcome back Nova and Chris to their roles of owl banders. Their presence, experience, knowledge, and approach to owl banding are beheld by new and long-standing visitors and supporters of WPBO. Nova and Chris are instrumental to our owl banding program and we encourage you to support the owl banding program with a donation if you’re inspired by their work, by the number of owls who pass through the Point, and you want to see this kind of research continue and grow into the future. If you’re interested in seeing owl banding demonstrations during the Spring, Summer, or Fall seasons, stay tuned to the WPBO webpage and blog. We encourage visitors on Friday and Saturday evenings. When you visit the Owl’s Roost Gift Shop, be sure to check out their photography for sale! You can also view it here.

Charlotte Catalano

Spring Field Ornithologist: Charlotte Catalano
Charlotte is a Midwest native, hailing from Milwaukee, WI. She graduated in 2016 with degrees in Natural Resources, Fisheries and Wildlife Ecology as well as Art from Northland College (Ashland, WI). Fieldwork has seen her travel and live across the U.S., from New Mexico for Mexican gray wolves to Alabama for Wild Turkeys, to the great plains of South Dakota for Ring-necked Pheasants and raptors, over to the sage steppe of Montana for Sage Grouse, and to New York and back again for the Chestnut Ridge HawkWatch. Birds, birding, and wildlife/nature photography are a part of her every day, and she’s very excited to work for and experience Michigan Audubon at Whitefish Point.

Krista Botting

Spring Hawk Counter: Krista Botting
Krista grew up in Ionia, MI and is a recent graduate of Alma College with a degree in Biology. She caught the birding bug during high school while participating in an owl prowl with family friends and has continued working toward a lifetime of raptor research ever since. Last fall Krista was the official hawk counter for Lehigh Gap Nature Center in Pennsylvania and spent the summer of 2017 in New York as the field biologist for Bedford Audubon. Krista hopes to enter graduate school and learn more about the study of raptors in the years to come.  

Alison Vilag

Spring Waterbird Counter: Alison Vilag
When Alison Világ was six, her parents asked if she’d like to go look at ducks. Little did they know that day would be antecedent to a multitude of days spent looking at ducks, et al. Both professionally and as a pastime, the pursuit of birds has taken Alison to places exotic — such as Alaska’s Pribilof Islands and Borneo — and gigs closer afield her Great Lakes upbringing. These include Michigan Audubon’s Kirtland’s Warbler tours and the Illinois Natural History Survey. She has a strong affinity for Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and, in particular, Whitefish Point. Alison received her B.A. in environmental writing from Unity College in Maine. Through a diversity of mediums, which include guiding, writing, and photography, she strives to connect people with nature and to make science intriguing to a broad audience.

Each of our field staff contributes regular, weekly content to the WPBO blog as well as a season report to the Jack Pine Warbler, Michigan Audubon’s member magazine. You can stay tuned to their sightings and experiences in the field by connecting to WPBO on social media and by following the blog here and be sure your membership with Michigan Audubon is current so that you’ll receive WPBO content in our magazine and a discount to events, like Spring Fling at WPBO! Plan your visit to WPBO for the Spring season, meet our incredible line-up of staff, and experience the wonder of migration at Michigan’s premier birding spot.

By Heather Good, Executive Director