2011-07-14 / Outdoors

50th year in the field

Photos and story by Thomas Reznich


FIRST OSPREY CLIMB Shane Bolan, 30, of Bancroft, an employee of tower and power line contractor Hydaker-Wheatlake Company of Reed City, makes his way up a 300-foot cellular telephone tower off M-55 near Star City Road to retrieve an osprey chick for banding Friday morning. Bolan, who was making his first climb to an osprey nest to assist ornithologist Sergej Postupalsky, found a single chick at the top of the tower. FIRST OSPREY CLIMB Shane Bolan, 30, of Bancroft, an employee of tower and power line contractor Hydaker-Wheatlake Company of Reed City, makes his way up a 300-foot cellular telephone tower off M-55 near Star City Road to retrieve an osprey chick for banding Friday morning. Bolan, who was making his first climb to an osprey nest to assist ornithologist Sergej Postupalsky, found a single chick at the top of the tower. Ornithologist Sergej Postupalsky, 76, of Prairie du Sac, WI came back to Michigan this year for his 50th year of field work studying ospreys.

Last Friday, Postupalsky was banding young from a nest located atop a 300-foot cellular telephone tower, located south of M-55 near Star City Road in Missaukee County, with the help of a crew from tower and power line contractor Hydaker-Wheatlake Company.

“Every once in a while the body tries to tell me ‘Hey, Sergej, you’re not 50 anymore,” said Postupalsky, who will turn 77 in October.


IN THE BAG Postupalsky (left) and Matt Sigsby, 36, of Hydaker-Wheatlake Co. place the young osprey in a bag for transport back to the top of the tower. Tower company Global Tower Partners hired Hydaker- Wheatlake to help Postupalsky in his banding effort. IN THE BAG Postupalsky (left) and Matt Sigsby, 36, of Hydaker-Wheatlake Co. place the young osprey in a bag for transport back to the top of the tower. Tower company Global Tower Partners hired Hydaker- Wheatlake to help Postupalsky in his banding effort. Working through grants from the National Audubon Society, and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Postupalsky is a raptor specialist. In addition to his osprey work, which is in its 50th year, he also works with kestrel, barred owl, goshawk and red shouldered hawk among others.

Although he said his plan has been to retire from field work after his 50th year, now that it is here, he’s not so sure. “I’m afraid that next spring if I’m not out here, I’ll be sitting home wondering how these birds are doing,” he said.


BANDED BUT DEFIANT A five-week-old osprey chick makes himself look as menacing as possible as Postupalsky cleans up before sending the bird back to its nest. The bird was the 33rd banded by Postupalsky this spring. BANDED BUT DEFIANT A five-week-old osprey chick makes himself look as menacing as possible as Postupalsky cleans up before sending the bird back to its nest. The bird was the 33rd banded by Postupalsky this spring. For more on Postupalsky’s work, see www.houghtonlakeresorter.com/ news/ 2010- 07- 22/ Outdoors/ Sergej_ and_ the_ Osprey.html



JUDGING AGE FROM GROWTH Postupalsky measures the chick’s tail feather growth to help determine its age. He said the cold, late spring this year has led to the bird’s nesting periods being “spread all over the calendar,” producing a wide variety of growth stages from nest to nest. JUDGING AGE FROM GROWTH Postupalsky measures the chick’s tail feather growth to help determine its age. He said the cold, late spring this year has led to the bird’s nesting periods being “spread all over the calendar,” producing a wide variety of growth stages from nest to nest.

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