By Annie Perry, MNA Intern
Join MNA for the 2013 Annual Meeting on Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. at the Hart Community Center in Springfield Township.
The Annual Meeting will include refreshments and presentations about MNA’s current projects and initiatives, as well as talks from guest speaker, William Rapai, the author of The Kirtland’s Warbler: The Story of a Bird’s Fight Against Extinction and the People Who Saved It, and Phyllis Higman from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, who will talk about the threat of invasive species in Michigan.
Prior to the Annual Meeting, MNA will lead a tour through the nearby Timberland Swamp Nature Sanctuary beginning at 11 a.m.
Timberland Swamp Nature Sanctuary was one of MNA’s earliest and most dramatic acquisitions. It took 11 independent purchases from 1967 to 1978 to secure the entire 245-acre sanctuary, which is nestled just outside Pontiac and metropolitan Detroit. Today, Timberland Swamp is MNA’s largest showcase sanctuary and the largest sanctuary in southeast Michigan.
Timberland’s major habitats include a low, wet swamp forest of elm, red maple, silver maple, black ash, white ash, basswood and yellow birch. Above the wetland are pockets of beech-maple woods, with red oak, swamp white oak, wild black cherry and several kinds of hickory. Flowers, ferns and shrubs make up the understory for the beech-maple woods.
The sanctuary’s major habitats may be a swamp and beech-maple woods, but one of its defining features is its wildflowers. Many species of wildflowers are scattered throughout the sanctuary and spring into bloom from the end of April until late May, when leaves emerge and shade the forest floor. The tour occurs during the peak of the wildflower bloom, so visitors will get to experience the full extent of this natural beauty.
Aside from wildflowers, Timberland Swamp includes virgin hardwood trees, rare flowering plants and shrubs, and a rich summer resident bird population. In May, June and July, hikers at Timberland can hear the calls and songs of birds such as the Acadian flycatcher, scarlet tanager, red-eyed vireo, and most of the 13 species of warblers.
Timberland Swamp is home to various rare birds and animals that used to be fairly common in Michigan. The pileated woodpecker and other birds and animals can only survive in vast, wild, and secluded places such as Timberland—places which used to be common in Michigan, but are now rapidly disappearing.
If you can’t make it to the Annual Meeting on May 4, the best times to visit Timberland are from late April until late May, when the wildflowers are blooming, and from Labor Day until deep snow. Summertime features great colonies of ferns growing in shoulder-high masses.