Peregrine flight

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Shirley Timberman


My friend Shirley Timberman is a loyal Blue Heron Blast reader and lives in Marquette, Michigan. Shirley actually has a real job but has been doing something very cool this summer in her spare time, braving sparrow size mosquitos and wood ticks in the upper peninsula.

Photograph from: NMU

She has been tagging bald eaglets with Dr. Bill Bowerman, one of the most renowned raptor and bald eagle experts in the entire world. 

This is Bowerman's 40th year of studying bald eagle ecology. His groundbreaking approach and dedication to preserving sea eagle populations around the world earned him the 2023 Lowell Thomas Award from The Explorers Club, an international professional society dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific exploration and resource conservation.

He is a fellow alum of hers from Northern Michigan University.

Bowerman is a professor of wildlife ecology and toxicology and former chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Technology at the University of Maryland. He began exploring the effects of environmental pollutants in the Great Lakes region in 1984, and has since become a world-renowned champion of avian conservation through environmental monitoring programs on every continent except Antarctica. Passionate about sharing his expertise, he also mentors graduate and undergraduate students who partner in this work—including some from NMU—in many research projects.

According to this article about the project, Professor Bowerman and his researchers have looked at over 5000 first eggs in eagles nests since the project commenced.

Very cool! Good job Shirley! Bald eagles are under significant stress from climate change and the research you are helping with is very important. Perhaps one day we will be able to right the ship?

“Eagles are the messenger for climate change and contaminants, and we are now looking at the role of disease,” he added. “The only thing that has ever scared me happened last year, when we saw how vast parts of Michigan did not have eagles nesting. We were supposed to collect 30 samples along Lake Superior last year and we only got 11. We have lost a significant portion of our nesting eagle population in the state. If we weren't surveilling them, we wouldn't know that had occurred."


Bill is also up in the U.P. this week, visiting Shirley and his family. He sends this picture of the Michigan River.

No comments: