By Ranger Steve Mueller
Join others for the Christmas Bird Count on 3 Jan 2015. Experienced birders will help identify about 60 species during the National Audubon, Michigan Audubon, and Grand Rapids Audubon Club sponsored Christmas Bird Count. Meet at the Wittenbach/Wege Agri-science and Environmental Education Center (WWC) across the road from Lowell High School.
We assemble at 7:30 a.m. and are searching various count circle sections by 8 a.m. Spend the morning or the whole day. There is no charge to participate but the National Audubon welcomes an optional donations. A lunch will also be provided for $5 for those that desire or people can brown bag their lunch.
This is my 28th year coordinating the Kent County event. Plan to discover birds in their winter nature niches and celebrate the diversity of life that abounds during the winter. About 60 people gather and divide into small groups to explore various areas with section leaders. The count area has a 7.5-mile radius surrounding the Honey Creek and Two Mile Roads intersection.
It is a mystery what species will arrive to compliment our regular winter residents. Some people are surprised that American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds are regulars each winter. Their primary winter diet is berries found in wetlands. Birds from more northern areas might arrive if food is scarce farther north or if weather is particularly harsh. Other species like the Great Blue Heron, Belted Kingfisher, and Song Sparrow might linger here instead of heading south if winter conditions are mild. Many species of waterfowl will be expected on open water.
The Grand Rapids Audubon Club and WWC invite families for this free family event for part or all day. Previous bird knowledge or experience is not necessary. To enhance a great birding experience we carpool. The WWC is located at 11715 Vergennes Rd across the street from Lowell High School. The co-sponsoring WWC has a great facility where you will see many live mounts of birds displayed. The hiking trails are open for hiking every day of the year. We hope to see you on January 3, 2015.
Come dressed in layers that can be removed or added as temperature changes. We are in and out of cars at many locations. Bring binoculars and bird books if you have them. People will share if you do not. Call me ahead of time with questions or just show up on count day.
Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the firstname.lastname@example.org Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.