At the Mic: Alec Olivier
I’m a 13 year old birder from Marquette, Michigan. I have watched backyard birds my whole life, but got really interested three years ago. I’m currently trying to start the Upper Peninsula Young Birders Club. I am an amateur wildlife photographer and aspiring ornithologist. I am also the author of My dream is to study fall migration at Point Barrow, Alaska and waterbird migration pathways throughout the Great Lakes.


When I got asked to go on my first Breeding Bird Survey with one of our areas top birders, I jumped at the opportunity! I met Katie Koch, a US Fish and Wildlife Service bird biologist at 4:45am. That was the earliest time I’ve been birding by 15 minutes. When we got to the first survey point, it was 5:20. When the clock turned to 5:34 it was time to start. We waited and listened for three minutes. We were right on the edge of a jack pine tree stand. The first bird we heard was a Lincoln’s Sparrow. Then we heard a Chipping Sparrow, an American Robin, a Nashville Warbler, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, a Vesper Sparrow, a Pine Warbler, and I saw a lifer Eastern Towhee! Katie told me that we would drive half a mile, stop, and listen for another three minutes. Then we’d do that again 50 times!


Alec and Katie Koch.

Three hours later we stopped at Deer Lake. At our first point at the lake we got the first Hooded Merganser of the day. On our second stop, we saw two Ring-necked Ducks, a Common Loon, a Northern Parula, two Hermit Thrushes, and a Brown Creeper. We also found a Hairy Woodpecker nest.
Hairy Woodpecker nest.

Hairy Woodpecker nest.

Our last spot was in a deciduous forest. We heard a Ruffed Grouse, a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, a Red-eyed Vireo, two Ovenbirds, a Blackburnian Warbler, and a Black-throated Green Warbler.