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 Jackson Audubon Society

 The Audubon Society of Jackson County, Michigan

  • Tuesday, May 21, 2019 8:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Tuesday Group’s Kate Palmer walk May 21

    A record 21 Tuesday Group tourers came to the Kate Palmer Wildlife Sanctuary May 21 for a walk led by Allen King, the sanctuary’s volunteer steward and a retired science teacher.  The Group was rewarded by Allen’s descriptions good variety of birds and plants, and the topography at the sanctuary.

    He started by explaining that the first coal discovered in Michigan was on this very site.  Because its quality was low, coal was never a money-maker and pits were less than 10 feet deep.  The only evidence today are overgrown holes in the ground and piles of spoil. Instead of coal, springtime now visitors see colorful, native wildflowers and songbirds.

    Allen and other experts identified flowers and birds as the group walked for roughly two hours.  Drifts of trillium, with just a few fading blossoms, lit up the understory.  Birding highlights were two male scarlet tanagers perched in the same shrub, a ruby-throated hummingbird building a nest, and a pileated woodpecker.  See Steve Jerant’s species list at eBird.

    The next-best part?  No bugs.

    Get a feel for “The Kate’s” serenity from Lynn Eckerle’s accompanying images.

    Trillium (Lynn Eckerle)

    Mayapple (Lynn Eckerle)

    Jack-in-the Pulpit (Lynn Eckerle)

    No one on the tour had enough lens to capture bird images.  By coincidence, Chuck Mekbel found a pileated woodpecker on the same day at Oak Openings Metropark in Swanton, Ohio.  See Chuck’s stellar image below.

    Pileated woodpecker   Chuck Mekbel

    Free on Tuesday mornings?  Check Jackson Audubon’s events list.  If you like enjoy learning about the natural world, try a Tuesday tour on for size.


  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    The Jackson Audubon made a trip this morning to the Oak Openings Metropark near Swanton, Ohio and we had a nice day of bird watching.  The highlight of my morning was photographing a camera happy Summer tanager who repeatedly posed at different angles in front of four or five of us on shrub branches that were quite close to the trail.

    Attached is a photo of this brilliant beauty.  He was not shy at all for us Michigan bird watchers!

    Doug Leffler

    eBird Trip checklist is available HERE

  • Tuesday, May 07, 2019 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    the JAS Tuesday Group drive down to Magee Marsh on May 7th to visit Warbler Central in Ohio.  The weather was a bit cool, starting at about 45 but got a bit warmer.  It stayed cloudy all day.  We've had better years but the boardwalk was alive with warblers, but not too many thrushes.  We did get two Eastern Screech Owls and a Woodcock that did not seem to be bothered by the attention.

    Some of us drove over the the Ross Unit after the boardwalk. 
    Total trip count was 72

    ebird lists below:
    Magee Marsh
    Ottawa NWR, Boss Unit

    Images compliments of Chuck Mekbel

  • Monday, April 22, 2019 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Thanks to all who came out to our double-header nature walk on Tuesday. It was nice seeing some familiar faces and meeting some of you for the first time. Despite it feeling wintry in the morning, we were treated to lush carpets of spring blooms! 

    Purple Trillium (Steve Jerant)

    I encourage you to join us again on September 17 for our next wildflower walk with the Jackson Audubon Society at MNA's Goose Creek Grasslands sanctuary in Lenawee County south of Cement City. The walk is timed to hit peak bloom time of the fringed gentians, and there should be many other fen-loving wildflowers to enjoy, including ladies tresses, sneezeweed, grass of parnassus, and several species of aster and goldenrod.

    Rachel Maranto
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 7:18 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    At our last JAS meeting of the season, Don & Robyn Henise received the Fargo Award for outstanding service to the organization.  Gary Siegrist and Steve Jerant presented the award.  Gary gave a brief history of the life of Mr. Fargo and the award.  Then he listed the many accomplishments and support the Henise's have provided JAS over the years.

    They served on the Haehnle Sanctuary Committee, with Robyn as our secretary for most of that time, and hosted the January meeting at their home.  They have been fixtures on the Harold Wing Overlook, through mosquitoes, rain, and sometimes snow, faithfully counting the cranes each fall.  Don has performed many bird, butterfly, and damselfly surveys on the property.  And they were always there on Saturday mornings for the biannual work bee-Robyn with her paintbrush at the ready.

    The Henise’s lead many tours for Jackson Audubon to Magee Marsh, Point Mouillee, and the Soo-braving the cold a few days early to scout for the rest of the participants.  They provided outstanding programs to JAS on travel and birds.

    Don & Robyn helped JAS members find and identify rare bird species that came into Jackson County like the Mississippi Kite. They found Short-eared owl and grassland bird territory, and promoted the importance of Watkins Lake.   And they always shared sighting of winter finches and snowy owls.

    Don changed the way the CBC was recorded including updating all data and rolling into electronic files. He transitioned us into the online age by use of eBird & list servers and his monitoring service of JAXBirds for the last few years.

    Steve then reflected, I remember the first time I met the Henises.  Yes, it was at Haehnle Sanctuary.  We chatted for a few minutes and then without much hesitation, they asked me if I wanted to come along with them as they were going up to Cutler Rd.  I tagged along with them to look for waterfowl.  After a bit, they said they were heading home but when Robyn found out I had never seen a Shoveler, she told me there was one down in Norvell. The directions were very precise and they ended with, “…and when you see the white pony, look in the water just after that farm.” It was the first of many lifers they gave me.  To me, they epitomize the best of birding:  a great store of knowledge and a passion to share it with others.

    photo courtesy Doug Leffler

  • Tuesday, April 02, 2019 8:26 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Eighteen JAS members participated in a tour of Jackson county lakes to view waterfowl. Due to some scheduling and extended cold we moved the date out a bit this year for our tour of the lakes.  (The Saturday tour is April 13th).

    The weather was nice: we had partial to full sun, a bit of wind but not too cold.  The eastern sun on Watkins was not brutal so we were able to see activity on that side of the lake.

    We started at Watkins Lake SP where the highlight was a loon and the DNR's scaup trap.  Later some folks who stayed behind reported Bonaparte's gull and cackling goose. From there we found some shovelers at Norvell Lake where the Raisin river crosses Austin Rd.  Then up to Little Wolf Lake where we did not see much but the Eastern Phoebe reminded us about perhaps taking the "Early" out of the name of this tour.  We visited Grass Lake county park next where we saw some more mergansers and our first Horned Grebe.  The tour finished at Gilletts Lake with more Horned Grebes and a bunch of Red-breasted Mergansers.  After the flyover of the sharpie and Osprey some of us had lunch at Knights in Jackson.

    eBird Checklist Summary for: Apr 2, 2019

    Number of Checklists: 5
    Number of Taxa: 33

    Checklists included in this summary:
    (1): Watkins Lake SP
    Date: Apr 2, 2019 at 09:36
    (2): Norvell Lake (west)
    Date: Apr 2, 2019 at 10:26
    (3): Little Wolf Lake County Park
    Date: Apr 2, 2019 at 10:49
    (4): Grass Lake
    Date: Apr 2, 2019 at 11:29
    (5): Gilletts Lake
    Date: Apr 2, 2019 at 11:53

    2 Cackling Goose -- (1)
    162 Canada Goose -- (1),(2),(4)
    10 Mute Swan -- (1),(2),(4)
    4 Northern Shoveler -- (2)
    3 Mallard -- (2),(5)
    22 Canvasback -- (1),(2)
    10 Redhead -- (1),(2)
    30 Ring-necked Duck -- (1),(2)
    4 Lesser Scaup -- (1)
    74 Bufflehead -- (1),(3),(4),(5)
    4 Hooded Merganser -- (1)
    41 Common Merganser -- (1),(3),(4)
    17 Red-breasted Merganser -- (5)
    2 Wild Turkey -- (1)
    5 Horned Grebe -- (4),(5)
    2 Mourning Dove -- (1)
    3 Sandhill Crane -- (1),(3)
    4 Bonaparte's Gull -- (1)
    2 Ring-billed Gull -- (1)
    1 Common Loon -- (1)
    2 Great Blue Heron -- (1)
    8 Turkey Vulture -- (1),(2),(3)
    1 Osprey -- (5)
    1 Sharp-shinned Hawk -- (5)
    1 Red-tailed Hawk -- (1)
    1 Eastern Phoebe -- (3)
    2 Blue Jay -- (1)
    2 Tree Swallow -- (1),(4)
    2 Eastern Bluebird -- (1),(5)
    8 American Robin -- (1),(3),(4),(5)
    34 Red-winged Blackbird -- (1),(2)
    6 Common Grackle -- (1)
    1 Northern Cardinal -- (5)

  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019 9:02 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We had a very successful event tonight!  Ten members of Jackson Audubon came out to the Riethmiller Rd. prairie in Waterloo Recreation area.  After all the ducks, geese, and Sandhills flew over and settled in for the evening, the show began. 

    We were looking all around for the first signs of a woodcock when we realized he was sitting on the trail about 30-40 feet from us!  There was still good light at 8:05, so he showed up well in the scope.  After we were able to get a good look at him, he flew off for what would be the first of his many displays.  During his flight he paired with another woodcock.  This is a pattern no one in our group had ever seen before.  

    The displays continued and we were able to see about six more flights. Each time our performer came down in about the same area on the trail so we were able to continue to observe him in the scope.  The full moon really helped with visibility.  While in flight, he flew to the west of us, so the receding sunset made a great backdrop for his display.

    We ran out of light and called it a night about 8:40.  

    Notable species seen:
    American Woodcock
    Rusty blackbird
    American Tree Sparrow
    Eastern Bluebird

    Full checklist of 14 species available at: 

  • Tuesday, February 05, 2019 9:55 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Gary Siegrist, Haehnle Sanctuary Director, led a group of 15 this morning on a walking tour of the property. He provided an an overview of the ongoing habitat work and future plans for the sanctuary. We walked the trail thorough the grassland into the woods to Eagle Lake.

    The tour continued with a drive to the Hawkins/Dalton Roads area in search of the Golden Eagle that is usually active in the area. Only one of the tour members got a view of the eagle but the group did get a good view of two Bald Eagles and a new nest being built nearby.

    The eBird list for the trip is posted HERE.

    Our next tour will be to Dahlem on February 19 at 9 AM.

  • Wednesday, January 23, 2019 6:28 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Robery Ayotte brought in a large crowd (35) again this year for a presentation at Hidden lake Gardens. Folks from JAS as well as other clubs came in from the cold to hear Robert's talk on soils in Michigan. He presented this lecture at the Stewardship Network annual conference in East Lansing earlier this month.


    Our forest soils are a living and vibrant matrix that has been evolving since the close of the last ice age. They are a key and stable component of forest ecosystems and provide sustenance to plant, animal, and fungal communities, which in turn, enrich the soil.

    We discussed the different classes of soil found in Michigan’s southern forests, and their glacial landform origins. Features such as soil development, horizons, texture, structure, color, nutrients, pH, and drainage class will be explored. Why do certain soils generate specific types of forest ecosystems. Comparisons will be made to soils which have been converted to agriculture.

    Are earthworms invasive? What are the threats posed from invasive species and climate change?

    Robert Ayotte is a gradual student in the field of Forest Ecology; and has previously worked for the USDA Forest Service, and Michigan Natural Features Inventory. He has applied the shovel to soils in several local forests and wetlands, and is enthused about sharing his observations

    Due to weather conditions, we did not do the planned walk to a soil pit on the property.

    Most of the JAS contingent met for lunch at Tecumseh Brewing in Tecumseh after the presentation.

  • Tuesday, January 08, 2019 8:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Joe Rogers and other employees from Wildlife Recovery Co. put on a nice program to a packed audience at the Jackson Audubon Club's regular January meeting.  Wildlife Recovery Co. rehabilitates raptors that have been hit by vehicles, shot or otherwise injured and whenever possible, returns them to the wild after rehab.  Joe and company had several birds with them that have had serious, permanent injuries and thus can't be returned to the wild, so now these birds are what might be dubbed as "ambassadors" for the company.  These birds will live out their days at the Wildlife Recovery headquarters instead of perishing in the wild.  Though they are in captivity, they are loved and cared for by the handlers.

    Attached are a few photos that I took during the program.  Note that the first photo shows Courtney Bailey of Summit Garden Center with Wildlife Recovery's pet "racing" pigeon, which has "retired" from racing and is now a resident at the business.  Joe brought the pigeon into the audience and let him perch on some of the visitors' hands.  Joe had brought several raptors for the program, including a couple of screech owls, a peregrine falcon, a rough-legged hawk, a merlin , a northern saw-whet owl, a barred owl and and a great horned owl.  All of the birds were brought into the audience for the folks to see.  The younger, school-age kids really had fun seeing them up close!  During the audience walk-through, the raptors were firmly held in control by Joe and his assistants.

    It was a fun and educational evening on a cool, but snow-free winter evening in Jackson.

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