About the People

Our Staff

Julie Craves, Supervisor of Avian Research

Julie CravesSince its inception in 1992, Julie Craves of Dearborn, a UM-D alumnus, has been the supervisor of the Rouge River Bird Observatory. Julie is interested in the resilience of urban ecosystems, how species adapt to these simplified systems with their unique stressors, and the interactions of native and invasive species.

Julie has also done substantial work on the distribution of Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and the use of these insects as bioindicators, especially in urban systems; she and her husband write about this work at Urban Dragon Hunters blog. Julie is also keenly interested in migratory bird use of shade coffee farms worldwide, but especially in Central America where she has also done bird monitoring. More information on the connection between coffee and biodiversity can be found at her website, Coffee & Conservation. For over 15 years, Julie has been a Contributing Editor to BirdWatching Magazine.

Staff of the Environmental Interpretive Center

RRBO is housed in the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Environmental Interpretive Center (EIC). Read about the staff members at the EIC web site.

Our Volunteers and Research Associates

Dana Wloch, Undergraduate Research Associate

Dana Wloch of Southgate is a UM-D graduate who majored in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology. She started at RRBO in 2009 as a bander. Since fall 2009, Dana has worked on an independent research project examining the fall diets of American Robins and Gray Catbirds. For fall 2012, Dana will be banding, continuing her research, and developing an online seed and plant identification guide, a project funded in part through a grant from the Michigan Audubon Society.

Darrin O’Brien, Volunteer (bird banding, surveys, special projects)

Darrin O’Brien, husband of Julie Craves, is a licensed bird bander and has volunteered with the RRBO since 1996.  He has served in various capacities for the Detroit River Hawk Watch (formerly Southeast Michigan Raptor Research), and has run at least one Breeding Bird Survey route for over a decade. He is founder and compiler of the Clinton Christmas Bird Count, compiler of the North American Migration Count for Wayne County, and a past member of the Kentucky Bird Records Committee.

Sally Petrella, Volunteer (bird banding)

Sally Petrella of Detroit has been an RRBO bander since 1996. Sally received her degree in biology the University of Michigan, and has been the Volunteer Monitoring Program Manager at Friends of the Rouge since 2000. She’s active in community groups including Friends of Rouge Park and Friends of Eliza Howell Park.

Mike O’Leary, Volunteer (bird surveys)

Mike O’Leary is a lifelong Dearborn resident, a retired City of Dearborn police officer, and now works for Ford Motor Co. corporate security. He has done bird surveys for RRBO since 1997. His prowess with a chain saw and weed whip in the net lanes have also been greatly appreciated!


Sara Cole, Volunteer (bird banding)

Sara is a senior at Wayne State University majoring in elementary science education. She has worked as a program leader at the Environmental Interpretive Center for several years, and has also interned at Michigan State’s Kellogg Biological Station. Sara lives in Detroit, and her first banding season was fall 2010.

Shelley Martinez, Volunteer (bird banding)

Shelley is a Dearborn resident, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Audubon Society since 2010. She is also the founder of Michigan Birds & Brews – a group to connect birders in Southeast Michigan.  When she’s not photographing her favorite bird the Common Loon, she is a Loon Ranger for her lake in northern Michigan. Fall 2012 is Shelley’s rookie banding season.

Mike Sullivan, Volunteer (bird banding)

Mike Sullivan graduated in December of 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology, and has decided to return to the University of Michigan-Dearborn to earn a teaching certificate.  He started working at the EIC in the fall of 2009 after leading programs as part of a project for Field Biology.  Fall 2012 is Mike’s rookie banding season.

Where are they now?

Many former RRBO volunteers have gone on to careers in ornithology, ecology, or the environment. Read about them at the Net Results blog.

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