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Winter Bird Watching in Your Back Yard - Feb 5

Winter Bird Watching in Your Back Yard - Feb 5

Spring Lake, MI--What type of birds can we see during the winter in the Tri-Cities? Join Dr. Michael Lombardo at Spring Lake District Library on Tues., Feb. 5 at 7:00 p.m. to find out. Dr. Lombardo, a Professor of Biology at Grand Valley State University and member of the Owashtanong Islands Audubon Society, will share a colorful slide presentation featuring a variety of winter birds as well as information about their habitats and behaviors.

This birding presentation can help novice and expert birding enthusiasts prepare for the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count. The Backyard Bird Count will take place Feb. 15 through Feb. 18.

Welcome Aboard the D.J. Angus

Grand Valley University and the Ottawa County Parks are offering 2 trips aboard GVSU’s D.J Angus research vessel leaving from Grand Haven. Join the crew on August 24 at either 8:00am or 11:00am. The participants will be taking various samples for water quality testing, plankton collecting, lake bottom sampling, and more from Lake Michigan, Spring Lake and the Grand River (weather will determine the route for the day.) The trips last about 2.5 hours and are open to adults and children 10 years old and older (no exceptions). A registration fee of $20 per person and advanced registration is required.

We trade our Urban Wildlife for a rare sighting -- The elusive badger

We trade our Urban Wildlife for a rare sighting -- The elusive badger

Meet Bella, Bucky and Barry:

We leave the urban wildlife in Forest Hills and head to our cabin in Wisconsin.  In Michigan, you would call our cabin a cottage.  In Wisconsin, they are known as cabins.  Anyway I digress - our cabin is on 10 hilly acres of grassland in the bluff country of southern Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin is known as the dairy state, but the “state animal” is not a cow.  It’s the badger.  Yes, Wisconsinites have seen Bucky the Badger, the University of Wisconsin’s mascot.  But very few of them have ever seen a real badger.  Our property in Wisconsin was invaded by three badgers last year!!!!

The first sign of a badger invasion:

The first sign of the badger invasion was the yard, which was dug up.  Badgers prefer to live in open grasslands, fields and pastures.  My husband mows about four acres of our property and lets the rest of the grasses grow wild.

A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach

A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach

LAKE MICHIGAN -  Even a dog has to take a break from all the excitement of his backyard kingdom.  On this sunny summer day, George, my husband, and I head to the beach.  Our friends, Nancy and Don, own a cottage on Lake Michigan, and they have invited the three of us to spend the day at the beach.

This is George’s first visit to Lake Michigan.  The waves were a little intimidating at first.  He would sniff the water, but he would not allow himself to get wet.  He wouldn’t even dip his paw into the water to check it out.  Then something caught his eye.  George noticed the beautiful white birds walking along the water’s edge.  He tried to get close to these interesting critters, but they would simply fly off.

Silly me, I thought seagulls only lived by the ocean, and then I moved to Michigan and discovered the Big Lake is home to a thriving population of seagulls.  I have since learned that seagulls or gulls will live al

Urban Wildlife - Meet Hawkeye

Urban Wildlife - Meet Hawkeye

Hawkeye” is the most feared creature in our urban forest.  I think the critters fear him even more than “Kitty”, the neighborhood’s gray tabby.

The critters (birds and the four legged kind) must have a sixth sense.  They will be happily eating and all of sudden they all scatter.  Several seconds later, Hawkeye will fly over the backyard or land in a nearby tree.

I think Hawkeye is a Cooper’s Hawk.  The most common urban hawk is the Cooper’s Hawk, which can be confused with the smaller look-alike Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Urban Wildlife - Meet Tommy and Henrietta

Urban Wildlife - Meet Tommy and Henrietta

George and his Backyard Critters – Meet “Tommy” and “Henrietta”:

“Tommy” and “Henrietta” are the wild turkeys who live in the neighborhood and visit our bird feeder once in a while. We don’t see the turkeys very often, maybe it’s because they can go 14 to 20 days without food.

Michigan turkeys disappeared in the late 1800’s. In the 1950’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced turkeys in southwestern Michigan and later in the northern part of the state.  Today, there are about 200,000 wild turkeys roaming around Michigan.

Two of those turkeys live in our Forest Hills neighborhood. They are the Eastern Wild Turkey variety.

Urban Wildlife - Meet Doe-Boy

Urban Wildlife - Meet Doe-Boy

Meet “Doe-Boy” and his Friends:

George’s favorite characters in our backyard drama “Urban Wildlife in Forest Hills” are “Doe-Boy” and his deer friends.

Doe-Boy loves to steal food from the bird feeder.  That’s him, or is it her, up on his/her hind legs.  Like the Pillsbury Doughboy, he warms our hearts with his antics.  Doe-Boy and his seven white tailed friends come and go all year round.

Doe-Boy is the only one in his herd that takes the food directly from the bird feeder.  The rest of them are content licking up the seeds from the ground. 

White tailed deer have taken up permanent residence in the wooded areas of Forest Hills and other suburban and urban neighborhoods.  They have lost their inhibitions of humans, and they don’t have to worry about hunters.  There is plenty of food from bird feeders to yummy gardens.

When we first moved into our home, I planted all sorts of flowers and bushes.  The dee