Jackson Audubon Society

 The Audubon Society of Jackson County, Michigan

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  • Tuesday, August 09, 2022 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We had a beautiful day to walk the grassland, wetland, and forest habitats at the Riethmiller Rd. DNR property Tuesday morning.  The sky was blue and sparsely cloudy and the temperature was a mild low seventies.  Eight members of JAS walked the grasslands from the Riethmiller Rd. DNR parking lot.  The only good grassland species spotted and heard were some Sedge Wrens which we had along most of the east/west trail.  The wetland to the north had a good deal of Great Egrets moving about. 

    (Steve Jerant)

    The wetland habitat portion of the trip was a bit more productive.  There were about 3 pair of Green Herons seen and very much heard in the wet crossing on the trail.  The birds were moving about in the trees to the west.  We also heard the call of a Virginia Rail, but, not we did not see it.

    (Steve Jerant)

    From the wet land area we moved up into the forested Hoffman Trail.  There we got Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, among others. 

    (Steve Jerant)

    Species list:
    10 Canada Goose
    2 Trumpeter Swan
    4 Wood Duck
    3 Blue-winged Teal
    8 Mallard
    4 Mourning Dove
    1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    1 Virginia Rail
    8 Sandhill Crane
    3 Killdeer
    1 Greater Yellowlegs
    4 Great Blue Heron
    9 Great Egret
    6 Green Heron
    6 Turkey Vulture
    1 Bald Eagle
    1 Red-shouldered Hawk -- Audible. Confirmed with Merlin
    1 Red-tailed Hawk
    1 Belted Kingfisher
    1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
    2 Downy Woodpecker
    2 Northern Flicker
    3 Eastern Wood-Pewee
    1 Eastern Phoebe
    1 Eastern Kingbird
    3 Blue Jay
    1 American Crow
    10 Tree Swallow
    6 Barn Swallow
    1 White-breasted Nuthatch
    1 House Wren
    4 Sedge Wren -- Audible
    35 European Starling
    3 Eastern Bluebird
    9 American Robin
    2 Cedar Waxwing
    9 American Goldfinch
    6 Field Sparrow
    1 Song Sparrow
    2 Swamp Sparrow
    2 Baltimore Oriole
    2 Red-winged Blackbird
    1 Common Grackle
    12 Common Yellowthroat
    1 Yellow Warbler
    3 Northern Cardinal
    1 Rose-breasted Grosbeak

    Number of Taxa: 47

    eBird Checklist

  • Tuesday, July 26, 2022 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We had a beautiful sunny day for the Tuesday walk at Watkins Lake State Park/Washtenaw County Preserve. 

    Watkins Lake Washtenaw County Preserve

    Eight members of JAS started on the Washtenaw County side (east) for some good views of swallows working the field and perching on the high tension lines and towers.  We were able to observe 5 species of swallows.  It's so much easier when they're perched, especially one species next to another. There were lots of immatures as well, so the lines made an excellent study platform.

    The trail above the dam was productive as well,  yielding 2 Willow Flycatchers, a Brown Thrasher, a faint call from a Eastern Towhee from the woods above us, and a new clutch of Song Sparrows getting fed.

    Lynne took some pictures for us during the walk.

    (lynn Eckerle)

    (lynn Eckerle)

    (lynn Eckerle)

    (lynn Eckerle)

    (lynn Eckerle)

    Bird list for Watkins Lake County Preserve11 Canada Goose
    2 Mourning Dove
    3 Sandhill Crane
    6 Turkey Vulture
    1 Belted Kingfisher
    2 Northern Flicker
    2 Willow Flycatcher
    1 Eastern Phoebe
    1 Eastern Kingbird
    1 American Crow
    1 Northern Rough-winged Swallow
    12 Purple Martin
    5 Tree Swallow
    10 Bank Swallow
    3 Barn Swallow
    3 House Wren
    1 Gray Catbird
    1 Brown Thrasher
    2 Eastern Bluebird
    4 American Goldfinch
    1 Eastern Towhee
    1 Red-winged Blackbird
    2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
    Number of Taxa: 23

    We did not go into the woods on this tour, but it is a wonderful loop walk that provides an excellent view of the area.  

    (Steve Jerant)

    Watkins Lake State Park

    After a quick break in the parking lot between the two parks we walked over to the high fields in search of some grassland species.   It took a while but we finally got a look at one of the several Henslow's Sparrows that we heard calling.  The Bobolinks we not that shy.  We hade one adult male in non-breeding plumage and lots of adult females and juveniles.

    We were happy to welcome Joann back for a tour with us today!

    Bird list for Watkins Lake SP
    2 Wood Duck
    5 Mourning Dove
    1 Great Blue Heron
    3 Turkey Vulture
    3 Red-tailed Hawk|
    3 Eastern Kingbird
    2 Barn Swallow
    2 Eastern Bluebird
    4 Cedar Waxwing
    7 American Goldfinch
    2 Field Sparrow
    3 Henslow's Sparrow
    12 Bobolink
    3 Common Yellowthroat
    Number of Taxa: 14

  • Friday, July 15, 2022 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Lime Lake Fen

    Trip Leader Gary Mason

    On this warm and partly cloudy day, fifteen nature enthusiasts from The Jackson Audubon and Michigan Botanical Societies joined Gary Mason (JAS) for an exploration of Lime Lake Fen – near Spring Arbor.  This area is located just off the Falling Waters Trail, between what are known to locals as South Lake and Third Lake (in the Lime Lake area). 

    (Steve Jerant)
    Gary reviewed the geology of the area and noted that Lime Lake is fed by two springs located on private property near the southeast shore.  The influx of water, derived from ice-contact formations, contributes abundant calcium carbonate to the basin which leads to marly conditions.  Apparently, due to the often-slick marly bottom, the lake is sometimes dubbed “Slime Lake”.  The marl in this basin was mined in the early 20th century to produce cement and for the fertilization of agricultural fields.  Visible in the shallows, was the algae Chara spp. (muskgrass), a native aquatic plant which thrives in alkaline (high pH) conditions. 

    The calcareous soil conditions offer an opportunity to view some unusual species of plants which is why the area is afforded some protection as part of the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department.  However, the habitat has suffered considerable degradation from the introduction of glossy buckthorn, and alterations to natural drainage patterns.  Recently, some invasive species removal has been performed, and there has been some restoration of pre-European settlement drainage patterns.

    With the confluence of birders, entomologists, and botanists, this outing was veritable bio-blitz!  Experts were pointing out and describing interesting features at every step along the way (including dragon flies!).  A list of plant species found is included in Table 1.  Among those are the unique and uncommon Blephilia ciliata (Ohio horse-mint) (Fig. 1), Carex crawei (sedge), and Rudbeckia fulgida (showy coneflower).  The paucity of peat (fibric substrate) and the dominance of the grasses Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), Schizachyriuim scoparium (little bluestem), Sorghastrum nutans (Indian grass), Sporobolus heterolepis (prairie dropseed), and Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass) led us to conclude that this zone, under the Michigan Natural Features Inventory classification, is an early successional prairie.  No matter, it is abundantly diverse, with the promise of many colorful asters and gentians this fall. 

    Figure 1.  Blephilia ciliata (Ohio horse-mint or downy pagoda-plant).  The blooming period occurs during early summer and lasts about a month.  Unlike a lot of mints, neither the flowers nor the leaves have a noticeable scent.  (T. Reznicek).


    Along the Falling Waters Trail, and in route to Lime Fen, we enjoyed seeing many species of birds, and we gave particular attention to Warbling Vireos feeding their young in the canopy of an Ulmus americana (American elm).  We saw Baltimore Orioles, and barn swallows working the lake for insects.  In all, we recorded 25 taxa of birds including:

    8 Mute Swan
    8 Mourning Dove
    4 Sandhill Crane
    1 Great Blue Heron
    1 Turkey Vulture
    1 Red-tailed Hawk
    2 Northern Flicker
    8 Eastern Kingbird
    5 Warbling Vireo
    6 Blue Jay
    10 Tree Swallow
    1 Barn Swallow
    1 House Wren
    3 Gray Catbird
    10 American Robin
    6 Cedar Waxwing
    4 House Sparrow
    5 American Goldfinch
    7 Song Sparrow
    2 Baltimore Oriole
    3 Red-winged Blackbird
    1 Common Grackle
    1 Yellow Warbler
    2 Northern Cardinal
    2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak

    Many thanks to Gary Mason (JAS) for leading this trip, and to Steve Jerant (JAS) for organizing this trip.  Let’s return in the fall!

  • Tuesday, June 21, 2022 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    JAS members visited the Whitehouse Nature Center in Albion this morning. Although it was a bit warm, we had lots of shade, mild breeze, and no mosquitos.  Dale Kennedy and Doug White, longtime members of Albion faculty and naturalists at this site, provided the tour.  There was a good mix of habitats, birds and plants for us to observe.  

    Dale and Doug have done a huge amount of nest box management and banding at the facility and they demonstrated banding of juvenile House Wrens.  Recently a new trail was dedicated to them for their work.

    Robert Ayote was very excited to find an ash tree that was not only in a vertical position, but was bearing seeds!

    Species List:

    9 Mallard

    1 Wild Turkey

    1 Yellow-billed Cuckoo

    1 Turkey Vulture

    1 Broad-winged Hawk

    1 Red-tailed Hawk

    3 Red-bellied Woodpecker

    1 Acadian Flycatcher

    1 Eastern Wood-Pewee

    1 Yellow-throated Vireo

    1 Red-eyed Vireo

    5 Blue Jay

    4 American Crow

    3 Tufted Titmouse

    30 Tree Swallow

    2 White-breasted Nuthatch

    4 House Wren

    2 Gray Catbird

    1 Eastern Bluebird

    3 Chipping Sparrow

    6 Field Sparrow

    2 Song Sparrow

    1 Swamp Sparrow

    3 Red-winged Blackbird

    1 Brown-headed Cowbird

    2 Common Grackle

    3 Common Yellowthroat

    3 American Redstart

    4 Yellow Warbler

    3 Northern Cardinal

    Number of Taxa: 29

  • Thursday, May 26, 2022 2:42 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Longtime JAS member Roy Dane has hit the trail!  The Pacific Cost Trail to be exact.  Follow updates of his progress and observations on his blog.

  • Tuesday, May 10, 2022 10:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    After a 2 year hiatus due to Covid-19, we had a trip back to Magee Marsh on Tuesday.  Six JAS members walked the boardwalk from east to west.  Some continued on to quick visits to the Crane Creek Estuary Trail at Magee and then to Metzger Marsh and Howard Marsh in search of the yellow-headed Blackbird.

    The marsh boardwalk had a pretty good showing of warblers.  We got 20 warblers and 5 vireos on our trip.  Brenda posted a shared list of the whole trip on eBird.   In addition the 74 birds on that list, others in the group counted trip birds for all day which added another 11 species, for an informal count of 85 species.

    There were a lot of Magnolia, Yellow and Chestnut-sided Warblers.
    Magnolia Warbler (Gary Mason)

    Chestnut-sided Warbler (Gary Mason)

    The Black-throated group were also well represented.

    Black-throated Blue Warbler (Gary Mason)

    Black-throated Green Warbler (Gary Mason)

    Cape May, Blackburnian, and a single Orange-crowned Warbler were observed as well

    Cape May Warbler (Gary Mason)

    But the big treat for the day was a sighting of a Mourning Warbler. It was a lifer for some in our group, and I expect for the few people that were watching it outside the west entrance to the boardwalk.

    MOWA watching crush (Steve Jerant)

    Mourning Warbler (Gary Mason)

    Eastern Screech Owl (Gary Mason)

    Baltimore Oriol (Gary Mason)

    Bald Eagle on nest near parking lot (Gary Mason)

  • Tuesday, May 03, 2022 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Six soggy souls toured the Kate Palmer Sanctuary on Tuesday.  The tour was led by the Sanctuary Steward, Alan King.  Alan lead us through both sides of the O'Brien Rd. bordered property, giving us the history of the Sanctuary as well as showing off the wildflowers in season.  Like our Nan Weston tour last week, the early spring weather is not making this a great year for our early wildflower.  The Trillium, which are usually in their glory about this time, were barely peeking out. The Trout Lilly were in bloom, but they were being very shy due to no sun and lots of rain.  

    The birds were hunkered down as well, with only a few warblers seen or heard.  Our one bit of sunshine was an unexpected Rusty Blackbird we tracked near the creek on the east side of the property.

    Species List:

    Wood Duck  2
    Red-tailed Hawk  1
    Belted Kingfisher  1
    Red-bellied Woodpecker  2
    Downy Woodpecker  1
    Northern Flicker  1
    American Crow  1
    Black-capped Chickadee  2
    Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
    White-breasted Nuthatch  1
    House Wren  2
    Carolina Wren  2
    Eastern Bluebird  1
    American Robin  3
    Red-winged Blackbird  3
    Rusty Blackbird  1    Audible
    Yellow Warbler  3
    Yellow-rumped Warbler  8

  • Tuesday, April 26, 2022 4:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Joann Ballbach did her usual wonderful job of leading six JAS members through Nan Weston Preserve this morning.  It was cooler than previous trips and the flowers were not in great abundance but it did not rain.

    Most of the usual spring ephemerals were seen although many of them were still a bit shy about showing off their full flowers.  

    In addition to the samples below, we also saw lots of very small Trilliums with small flowers just starting to show, two Squirrel's Corn,  and a few Blood Root. On our way back we also got a look at a single Violet.

    Nan Weston is a jewel of a property managed by the Nature Conservatory.  It now has a connection near the River Raisin to the Sharon Mills Park managed by the Washtenaw County Park system.

    May Apple

    Marsh Marigold

    Dwarf Ginseng


    Skunk Cabbage

    Blue Cohosh

    Cut Leave Toothwort


    Dutchman's Britches

    Spring Beauties

    Round Lobed Hepatica

    Rue Anemone

    All Photos Steve Jerant (hand model in Rue Anemone: Gary Siegrist).

  • Monday, April 25, 2022 6:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    There have been a lot of questions about what to do with your feeders now that the Avian Flu has been reported in several Michigan counties.  At this writing the MI DNR have not banned bird feeders but indicate that removing them would help manage the spread.  The recommendations are variable based on your location, types of birds being fed, and whether there are groups of vulnerable birds nearby.   Read the Michigan Audubon blog post for the details so you can make an informed decision. 


  • Saturday, April 02, 2022 8:11 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    The nine JAS members had pretty good weather this morning for the annual Early Waterfowl tour.   With the exception of the elusive Canvasback, the group spotted most of the species that are normally seen at this time of year in Jacksopn County.  A total of 64 birds, including 24 waterfowl species, were observed in the six lakes and wetlands we visited.  Of note were a bevy of Horned Grebes at Gilletts Lake and a great number of Pintails at both Dunn/Cutler and Hahenle Sanctuary.

    While expectations were low for our fist stop at Watkins Lake SP, 39 species were seen, including 10 waterfowl.  We had great views of both the active Eagle and Red-tailed Hawk nests on the west side of the lake.  A group of 3 Bonaparte's Gulls did a flyby while we were heading back to the cars. 

    Steve Jerant

    The next stop at Norvell Lake (west) was fair, with a few waterfowl species.  Ross and Penny were able to squeeze a Northern Shoveler out of our visit.

    We expected Gillet's lake to be the best stop and were not disappointed.  Three  Common Loons and 28 Horned Grebe were observed.  And yes, that set off the eBird alarm.  

    Early scouting of Wolf and Grass lakes we not favorable so we headed up to the wetlands on Cutler & Dunn Rds.  There were lots of Northern Pintail and both Teal species.  The sun came out a bit so the colors showed well on these dusks as they promenaded for us.  

    From there we went east on Seymour Rd. to the Portage Lake Park on...Portage Lake Rd.  The Tree Swallows were abundant and Don did us the service of counting them: 109.

    Steve Jerant

    The last stop on the tour was at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary.  Three sets of Northern Pintails were seen over Mud Lake Marsh as well as Eagle Lake. The group checked out the marsh from the overlook then walked over to Eagle Lake.  There was a god deal of activity there viewed from the platform.

    Before finishing up for the day, a Field Sparrow was heard calling to remind us that even though it was in the 30s and it snowed yesterday, spring is here. 

    eBird Trip Checklist

    Species observed

    Canada Goose 162

    Mute Swan 11

    Trumpeter Swan 3

    Wood Duck 21

    Blue-winged Teal 14

    Northern Shoveler 6

    Gadwall 2

    American Wigeon 33

    Mallard 22

    American Black Duck 1

    Northern Pintail 33

    Green-winged Teal 11

    Redhead 1

    Ring-necked Duck 317

    Greater Scaup 2

    Lesser Scaup 4

    Bufflehead 37

    Hooded Merganser 10

    Common Merganser 26

    Red-breasted Merganser 2

    Wild Turkey 5

    Pied-billed Grebe 17

    Horned Grebe 28

    Mourning Dove 6

    American Coot 45

    Sandhill Crane 12

    Killdeer 4

    Wilson's Snipe 1

    Bonaparte's Gull 14

    Common Loon 5

    Great Blue Heron 3

    Turkey Vulture 7

    Osprey 1

    Northern Harrier 2

    Cooper's Hawk 2

    Bald Eagle 4

    Red-tailed Hawk 3

    Belted Kingfisher 1

    Red-bellied Woodpecker 4

    Downy Woodpecker 2

    Pileated Woodpecker 1

    Northern Flicker 5

    American Kestrel 2

    Blue Jay 1

    American Crow 7

    Black-capped Chickadee 4

    Tufted Titmouse 2

    Horned Lark 2

    Tree Swallow 172

    White-breasted Nuthatch 2

    Carolina Wren 1

    European Starling 1

    Eastern Bluebird 4

    American Robin 9

    Cedar Waxwing 7

    House Sparrow 2

    American Goldfinch 4

    Field Sparrow 1

    American Tree Sparrow 2

    Song Sparrow 14

    Eastern Meadowlark 1

    Red-winged Blackbird 101

    Common Grackle 17

    Northern Cardinal 7

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