Woodpeckers Need Our Help!

Red-headed woodpeckers used to be just about everywhere east of the Rocky Mountains. But these days the number of red-headed woodpeckers is about half of what it was fifty years ago. Volunteers are working on a new project to get people to help red-headed woodpeckers. They’re encouraging landowners to let dead or dying trees stand rather than cut them down:

You can’t miss Red-headed Woodpeckers. They have long beaks, bright red heads and snowy white breasts. And if you go to the right place, you can find a lot of them.

Photo by Scott Franke

Today they’re not hammering on trees – the sound most of us associate with woodpeckers – but they’re doing plenty of chattering.

This reserve in southern Minnesota looks a lot like how much of the Midwest used to look.

There are clumps of big oak trees here, separated by open areas of native grasses, shrubs and wildflowers. The biologists call it an oak Savannah.

And there are Red-headed Woodpeckers everywhere – about fifty of them on this 500-acre patch of ground.

“There’s a red-headed, and he’s got a baby with him. God, they’re beautiful. They are so beautiful.”

That’s Chet Meyers. After a career as a college professor, he’s now in charge of an effort to make more places where Red-headed Woodpeckers can build their nests and raise their young.

If they can figure out exactly what the woodpeckers like so much about this place, maybe they can come close to reproducing the same conditions other places.

Chet Meyers is marking every tree where the woodpeckers have nested.

Once the trees are marked, the group will catalog exact descriptions of each tree. They’re hoping to come up with a profile of the perfect home for Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Photo by Wayne Nicholas

“And we’re going to measure the diameter of the tree, how high the nest cavity is, the species of the tree, is it alive or is it dead, so we can get some data on what seems to be the preferred habitat.”

Once they’re pretty sure they know what the woodpeckers like, they’ll reach out to land owners. They’ll to try to get them to leave dead and dying trees standing.

That could work on old abandoned farms, where there are trees and open spaces. Or in cemeteries. Or around golf courses.

And Meyers says helping woodpeckers means helping other wildlife too.

“The woodpecker is called a primary nester, it digs the cavity. But flying squirrels, mice, snakes, bluebirds, tree swallows – there are lots of other animals that are secondary nesters. They can’t drill the hole. But they live there. So what we’re trying to do is preserve the habitat so the woodpeckers drill the hole and when they leave, something else will come in and live in it.”

The researchers think if you have dead or dying tree, that could be a home for a Red-headed Woodpecker. But usually homeowners are worried the tree could fall and damage something, Meyers says you can cut off the top and some of the bigger branches and leave the rest of the tree standing. They think the red-headed woodpecker will be just as happy.

Story Courtesey of the Environment Report

from the University of Michigan and Michigan Radio

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A Looking Glass Sanctuary Dedicaton

This beautiful 14.5-acre sanctuary consists of southern floodplain forest and associated wetlands, as well as prairie habitat and oak uplands. It was dedicated on July 26, 2008

The land, named after the Looking Glass River that travels through the preserve, was generously donated to the Michigan Nature Association at the end of 2006 by the Fellowship for Today in East Lansing.

“We wanted the land to be a sea of green rather than development or buildings.”

– Grace Menzel, Fellowship for Today

Fellowship for Today is a New Thought spiritual community that worked in conjunction with The Allen and Edyne Gordon Foundation to contribute money toward preserving the land, and adding to MNA’s Bertha A. Daubendiek Sanctuary Preservation Fund to facilitate general maintenance of the property.

“We wanted to come together to leave a leg­acy for people after us…

that was the vision that drove us.”

– Minister Emeritus Beth Monteith Fellowship for Today

View of the Looking Glass River from the Sanctuary

Have You Seen This Photo Before?

Having been an organization for over 50 years, MNA has history. Sometimes you find that history in the places like you least expect it…

While working at the Alton D. McGaw Nature Sanctuary and the former MNA office / home of MNA Co-Founder Bertha Daubendiek we found this photo:

The photo was in an old MNA foler with many other pictures, but this one stood out. It has no sanctuary listed, no photographer and no date.

Today, camping is generally not allowed on our sanctuaries, but in the past there were a few properties that allowed viitors to camp overnight.

I think that it may be interesting to learn the history behind this photo, these people and their trip! So, if you know any part of their story please tell me about it by clicking “Share Your Story” at the top of the page. (As I recieve comments I will update this post)

Get To Know A Sanctuary- Goose Creek Grasslands

The 70-acre Goose Creek Grasslands Nature Sanctuary is Located in Lenawee County near Cement City in the South-Eastern part of the state. The wet prairie, marsh and fen that make up the sanctuary are host to over 200 plant species(7 of which are list as rare) including native orchids, sedges, prairie flowers like Indian Paintbrush and many bog plants like buckbean.

The sanctuary is named after the clear, winding creek that runs through the valley, and for miles through the sanctuary. (The creek, trail and sanctuary boundary are shown on the map below)

Bird enthusiasts enjoy goose creek just as much as plant lovers because the sanctuary is home to 38 different species of birds. The combination of wet areas and open prairie draw a very diverse population, ranging from mallards to willow flycatchers to bobolinks; because the prairie land is so flat the birds’ songs can be heard across great distances.

Goose Creek is truly one of the last remnants of the vast prairie that once stretched through out Southern Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and MNA is proud to protect this beautiful reminder of what our landscape would have looked like in the 1800’s.