Little Wonders in Our Natural Areas

As my time at Oakland Township Parks comes to a close, I have been reflecting on all that I learned as a Land Stewardship Technician. Since I’ve always been on the research side of ecology, I learned a ton about what goes into the hands-on part of conservation and restoration. Through being in the field every day, I have had the opportunity to observe the natural world around me and all the little processes happening. I like to tell people this job has almost been meditative for me because every day, week, and month you notice something new in a landscape you have seen all the time. Having lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Minnesota for the past 5 years, I have never observed all the diversity that occurs in prairies. Every week I would discover a new wildflower blooming, and I would become in awe all over again. Therefore, I wanted to share with you some of the wonders in Oakland Township Parks’ natural areas that I had the delight of coming across during my time here as a Land Stewardship Technician.

April

The Land Stewardship Technicians and I started our journey at Oakland Township in mid-April. It was still chilly most days we worked in April (though not nearly as cold and snowy as April in the UP). When we started, the leaves on the trees were barely starting to bud, so we had the opportunity to view spring from almost the very beginning. April was burn season for us because most of the vegetation was still dormant. Prescribed burns were an awesome experience that I had never witnessed or participated in before.

In early spring, the first plants up and flowering are called spring ephemerals (plants that complete their entire growth cycle in the spring). Because of the lack of other vegetation, they are easy to observe and see on the forest floor. Spring ephemerals bloom early in spring, and by the time the other vegetation on the forest floor and canopy fills in their growing season is already done (think of daffodils or tulips).

My favorite plant of April was Jack-in-the-pulpit. I had never noticed these before in the spring, so they fascinated me. We found these everywhere in the forests throughout the Township. Each one was just a little bit different. Max did a whole blog post about Jack-in-the-Pulpit if you haven’t read it already!

May

May concluded burn season for us, and then we were on to garlic mustard removal throughout the parks. This meant we were walking every inch of the parks we manage throughout the Township looking for pesky garlic mustard. By covering so much ground every day (I was averaging between 15,000 and 20,000 steps per day in May), we had the opportunity to discover all sorts of little wonders in our parks. The days were getting longer, and the weather was getting very warm. If you remember back, May was a particularly hot and dry month in southern Michigan. Spring fully erupted in May, with the trees budding out and blossoming and the bird migration ramping up. Not only did we discover plants, but we also listened and watched all the birds migrating back or through to their summer residencies. We also started up our lake monitoring program in May to monitor the health of Lost Lake and Twin Lake.

My favorite plant I found in May was yellow the lady’s slipper. I have never found so many naturally growing, which was awing to see! I particularly enjoy lady’s slippers because the yellow lady’s slippers cousin, the pink lady’s slipper (Cypripedium acaule), is the state flower of Minnesota. Also, the yellow lady’s slipper rocks maroon and gold, which are the colors of the University of Minnesota.

Huge shout out to everyone that was able to come to help out and pull Garlic Mustard on our volunteer workdays! You guys are terrific and very helpful!

June

June wrapped up garlic mustard season for us, and then we were on to crown vetch (Securigera varia) and pale swallow-wort (Vincetoxicum rossicum) control. Both are very invasive and take over landscapes, so we are trying to keep them at bay in our parks. Max and I did a lot of surveying in our newly acquired parkland for crown vetch and pale swallow-wort, allowing us to continue to see many different parts of our natural areas. The start of June was unseasonably hot and dry and felt like we were already in the heat of the summer.

In June we also helped Ben with plant inventories in a few of our parks. This entails recording every species of plant in a specific habitat in a specific park, which means there are a ton of plants to be recorded! I thought I knew a few plant species, but by helping with those plant inventories, I was humbled at just how many plant species there are and just how many I don’t know at all. Hopefully, I at least retained a handful of plants from that survey.

June had some of my favorite plants I found of the season. The butterfly milkweed was blooming everywhere, and I could not get over its vibrant orange color. I could spot it from hundreds of yards away because color seemed to radiate from it! The pollinators loved it too, and I never saw butterfly milkweed without some kind of bee or butterfly. Wild ginger was also a cool find. They grow very low on the forest floor, and their flowers are hidden, so you have to look closely to see them. The flowers of wild ginger have an interesting adaptation in that they smell like dead carrion to attract gnats and flies to pollinate them. The purple pitcher plant is another amazing plant I found that grows in bogs. The purple pitcher plant is a carnivorous plant species (one of only a few in North America) that in early summer produces a fascinating flower (shown below).

July

In July, we started working on the control of invasive woody shrubs. This includes plants such as Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), glossy buckthorn (Frangula alnus), common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), common privet (Ligustrum vulgare), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), and autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata). In very disturbed areas, these woody invasives create a thicket that is nearly impenetrable that chokes out anything native that is trying to grow. Most of the summer was spent trying to combat these invasives using different methods depending on the park and the habitat. We also spent a decent amount of time at Lost Lake girdling trees to let more sunlight down to the forest floor.

July was also hot (theme of the summer), and this is when we started receiving crazy amounts of rain. We spent more time at Charles Ilsley Park this month because we started to help monitor some nest boxes there. This allowed us to see the beautiful fields of wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), also commonly called bee balm. Hopefully, you had a chance to walk through Charles Ilsley Park in July because it was a fabulous sight to see!

Another interesting plant I found in July was the Michigan lily. It is a beautiful plant that is found in higher-quality natural areas. I also enjoyed seeing Culver’s root. It has such a unique flower that is quite gorgeous to see. It also is an indicator of higher-quality natural areas, so to be able to observe both of these flowers in the township was very exciting.

August

August tasks included continuing to control woody invasives in our natural areas. They are prolific and everywhere! One of my favorite days in August was when we attended the pollinator event at Gallagher Creek Park hosted by Dr. Mary Jamieson from Oakland University. She studies pollinators such as butterflies and bees and taught us how to begin to identify different butterflies and bees. It was awesome to learn how to identify some of the pollinators we see every day while out in our natural areas. August was very similar to July weather-wise: hot and rainy! We would walk through wetlands that were virtually dry in the spring but now were quite wet from all the rain. Even Paint Creek was fuller than it was in the spring.

One of my favorite processes to watch during August was how the fields of bee balm at Charles Ilsley Park slowly turned to fields of goldenrod. For about a week, the fields were a mix of the late bee balm and the early goldenrod plants, and then it all transitioned to a fiery sea of goldenrod.

September

September meant the start of controlling common reed or invasive Phragmites australis. Phragmites is an aquatic invasive plant that if left to its own devices will take over wetland habitats. I’m sure many people have seen dense stands of Phragmites, especially along roadsides. Since Phragmites is a wetland species, we have spent most of our time in wetland areas this September. Wetlands have many amazing plants and also some fine plants such as poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), which are great for wildlife but can be unpleasant for us!

One of the cool parts about wetlands is they are much more complex than they originally appear. There are many different types of wetlands, including lesser-known examples like fens, bogs, and wet prairies. Oakland Township is lucky that it has several different wetland types within its natural areas. September, like July and August, has also been quite hot (with a few cooler days mixed in) and rainy (I thought I had moved to Michigan, not Seattle).

One of my favorite plants I found in September was closed bottle gentian. The flower looks like a bud about to open, but oddly enough it never opens. That is just the way the flower is. Therefore the only way it is pollinated is by pollinators (like bumblebees or hummingbirds) that are strong enough to force the flower open to get to its nectar.

Little Wonders Each Month

As you can see, every month brought a new little wonder. Each month I learned new flowers and what made them unique and special. To me, that was the most exciting part of this job. I was able to notice little changes taking place out in our natural areas since I was out in them every day for the last six months. I hope the next time you visit one of Oakland Townships parks, you too can notice something that you haven’t before, and that sparks your curiosity! The world is a glorious and mysterious place, and with lots to be discovered if we take the time to slow down and observe!

I also wanted to say thank you to all the marvelous people I have met while working for Oakland Township Parks & Recreation! I have greatly enjoyed getting to know you through working with you and through our outreach events such as the bird walks and volunteer days! Thank you so much for making my time here so enjoyable! 🙂

Pictures taken by Katri Studtmann, Parker Maynard, Max Dunn, and Cam Mannino.

Taking a Dip Into the Science of Lakes

Every month, I and the other land stewardship technicians take several measurements from Twin Lake and Lost Lake here in Oakland Township. These measurements are taken because we are a part of the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program (CLMP) ran by the Michigan Clean Water Corps. The CLMP is a citizen-based volunteer monitoring program that is widespread across Michigan. The program has been around in some fashion since 1974, which makes it the second oldest volunteer lake monitoring program in the nation. Lost Lake and Twin Lake have been monitored since 2018. The measurements we take are spring and fall total phosphorus, Secchi disk (water clarity), dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll.

A fall sunset illuminates the splendor of changing leaves at Draper Twin Lake Park. Photo by Cam Mannino.

Lake monitoring is one of my favorite tasks that we do as Land Stewardship Technicians. Not only is it fun to go out on the lakes, but I greatly enjoy this task because I think the data we collect from the lakes is fascinating. In college at Michigan Tech, I worked in an aquatic ecology lab. Therefore, I am very interested in what the data we gather from each lake can tell us about how healthy a lake is.

Growing up in Minnesota, lakes and rivers were all around me, and continue to be an integral part of our identity as a state. I grew up near the Minnesota River, which is one of many rivers that flows into the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River watershed is the fourth largest watershed in the world, eventually flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. Through my parents and in school, I learned about how water travels across the land and how we can affect the health of our watershed just in our backyard. My dad especially would stress the importance of keeping our water clean. He works for the City of Minneapolis mapping the sewage and stormwater systems, which gives him a great picture of how the waterways are connected. Therefore, because of my background, I like to “nerd out” about the data we collect from the Twin Lake and Lost Lake.

Twin Lake and Lost Lake

Twin Lake (at Draper Twin Lake Park) and Lost Lake (at Lost Lake Nature Park) are small glacial lakes in Oakland Township. We monitor Twin Lake East, which is about 12 acres with a maximum depth of 30 feet. Twin Lake East is connected to Twin Lake West by a small channel accessible by kayak or canoe. There is another small lake connected to Twin Lake West also by a small channel. Twin Lake East is the only lake monitored by Oakland Township.

Lost Lake is about 6 acres with a maximum depth of 17 feet. With the very dry spring this year the lake is only about 15 feet deep. Lost Lake is at the end of its life as a lake. This means within the next several decades it will likely become more of an emergent marsh than a lake because the vegetation will cover most of the surface area of the water. Because Lost Lake is so shallow, light can easily penetrate the water column, reaching the bottom of the lake bed where aquatic plants get enough energy to grow. Lost Lake is so “weedy” because the plants are receiving plenty of sunlight throughout most of the lake. In deeper lakes, you will only find plants growing and reaching the surface along the shoreline because in the center of the lake the plants receive less sunlight at the bottom.

A special thanks goes out to Maryann Whitman for taking Secchi Disk readings at Lost Lake since 2018! You have helped us immensely in monitoring our lakes!

Twin Lake is seen on the left from the dock. On the right is the view from the dock at Lost Lake.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt into streams, creeks, and rivers that combine with other streams and rivers to progressively drain into a larger water area. A watershed often includes many counties and sometimes can encompass multiple states or countries depending on the location.

Why Monitor Water Quality?

Lost Lake and Twin Lake are part of the greater Clinton River Watershed that feeds into Lake St. Clair. Lost Lake and Twin Lake are both in the smaller subwatershed of Stony Creek, which flows into the Clinton River. Twin Lake is connected to Stony Creek Lake through the McClure Drain. The Clinton River flows into Lake St. Clair and on down to Lake Erie. The Paint Creek also runs through Oakland Township, connecting with the Clinton River in Rochester.

As water flows through a watershed, it often picks up pollutants which then can accumulate in Lake St. Clair where the water ends up. This can have many negative effects on the ecosystem and environment depending on which and how many pollutants end up in the watershed.

Clinton River Watershed Map. Oakland Township can be seen in the upper left corner of the map. Map taken from the Clinton Watershed River Council website (https://www.crwc.org/resources/resource-library/watershed-maps).

What Each Measurement Tells Us

Each summer, we take four different measurements numerous times at Lost and Twin Lakes. Some summers, we also do an exotic aquatic plant watch survey. These measurements, when compared to other data, can tell us different information about what is happening with the ecology of our lakes. The four measurements we take are phosphorous, water clarity, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll.

Phosphorous

Phosphorous measurements are taken twice, once in the spring and once in the early fall. Because phosphorous is an essential limiting element for plant life, small changes in the amount of phosphorous can have drastic changes on what happens in a lake. Although phosphorous is an essential element for plant life, too much of it in the lake can cause accelerate plant growth, create algae blooms, decrease dissolved oxygen levels, and result in the die-off of some fish, invertebrates, and other aquatic creatures. Sources of increased phosphorous in waterways include run-off from lawns, agricultural fertilizers, manure and organic wastes in sewage, leaking septic tanks, industrial waste, and soil erosion.

Water Clarity/ Turbidity

Water clarity or turbidity is measured every 2 weeks with a Secchi disk. At its simplest, turbidity refers to how clear the water is in the lake. Water clarity determines how much and how far light penetrates the water. Water clarity is affected by several factors including algae, soil particles, and other materials suspended in the water. Therefore, Secchi disk readings are typically a good indicator of algal abundance and general lake productivity.

The Secchi disk is a very simple device to measure water clarity. The Secchi disk is lowered until it is no longer visible, and that depth is recorded. It then is raised until you can barely see the disk and that depth is also recorded. The average of the two depths is then taken. Above, Max is recording the Secchi depth for Twin Lake (Pictures taken by Grant Vanderlaan).

Dissolved Oxygen

Dissolved oxygen (commonly referred to as D.O.) is measured every 2 weeks using a D.O. meter. Dissolved oxygen is how much oxygen is in water. Oxygen is essential for supporting life in lakes. In the air we breathe, the oxygen concentration is about 21%, but in water oxygen concentrations are a tiny fraction of 1%. The temperature of the water determines how much oxygen the water can hold. Warm water holds less D.O. than cold water. In the summer, this is especially important because the top layer of the lake is heated by the abundant sun and is warmer than the lower part of the lake, with less dissolved oxygen. If you have ever jumped in a lake late in the summer, you will know what I mean. Therefore, in the hot summer, fish and other oxygen-dependent organisms will stay lower in the lake where it is cooler and there is more oxygen. One major concern with D.O. levels in lakes is a process called eutrophication. Eutrophication is where a lake or other body of water has excessive amounts of minerals and nutrients usually due to runoff. This leads to a depletion of oxygen in lakes and can cause a die-off of fish and other animals.

The D.O. meter is a very sensitive device used to measure the dissolved oxygen every 5ft until the depth of the lake is met. It also measures temperature at each depth. Above, Max is recording D.O. for Twin Lake (pictures taken by Grant Vanderlaan).

Chlorophyll

Chlorophyll is measured monthly in our lakes. If you remember back to high school biology class, chlorophyll is what makes plants green and is found in the chloroplasts of plant cells. Chlorophyll readings are a way to estimate algae biomass is in a lake. High chlorophyll readings indicate an abundance of algae, which is usually correlated to other processes happening in the lake such as decreased D.O. levels and decreased water clarity.

Measuring chlorophyll is a lot like conducting an experiment in college biology class. Because light and heat degrade the chlorophyll collected, the water samples are kept out of direct sunlight and placed in a cooler as soon they are as collected. First, the larger brown container is lowered into the lake at a predetermined depth and is then slowly raised, so water collects in the container. If it becomes adequately full then the two smaller containers are filled and a couple of drops of magnesium carbonate (MgCO3) are added to the smaller containers. The samples are then brought back to the Cider Mill to be further processed. Above, Grant is adding MgCO3 to one of the small container samples.

Chlorophyll Lab Processing:

Parker pushes a water sample through the paper filter to capture the chlorophyll/algae in the water. Photo by Grant Vander Laan

Back at the office, the samples are filtered through a tiny paper to collect the chlorophyll. The paper filters are then frozen until we drop them off for the CLMP to further process them. Two paper filters of chlorophyll are processed for each lake for better results. Parker is filtering one of the samples above through a syringe.

Actions Taken from Data Collected

At the end of the season, when the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program staff enters all the data into the giant database for the state, management plans for the lakes can be updated from that data. Currently, we do not have enough years of data from phosphorous, water clarity, dissolved oxygen, and chlorophyll to make assumptions of what needs to be changed at that lake. That is because several years of data collection are needed to see trends happening at our lakes. The only measurement we were able to directly act on currently is the data from the exotic aquatic plant watch. During the exotic aquatic plant watch at Twin Lake, curly-leaf pondweed (an invasive species) was found. Since its discovery, we have been treating curly-leaf pondweed near our dock at Twin Lake. Hopefully, within the next couple of years, we can gain enough data from our other measurements to create management plans for both lakes.

How to Keep Our Watershed Clean from Your Own Backyard

Though you might not live on or near Twin Lake or Lost Lake, you can still help keep the Clinton River Watershed clean. Even actions you take in your backyard can have implications on the Clinton River Watershed. Below are some actions you can take to keep our watershed clean and healthy!

At Home Actions:

  • To avoid overapplying fertilizers, eliminate fertilizers in your yard or use organic or slow-release fertilizers instead.
  • Don’t treat with pesticides or fertilizers with 15 feet of a water source (creek, river, lake).
  • Don’t pour toxic household chemicals down the drain. Take them to a hazardous waste center or drop off site like NoHaz.
  • Consider putting in a rain garden to catch and filter runoff from your roof, driveway, or sidewalks.
  • When camping, use biodegradable soaps like Dr. Bronner’s and rinse dishes away from lakes and streams.
  • Pick up dog poop in your yard so that it doesn’t run into streams/ lakes and create bacterial problems.
  • Plant native plants that require fewer pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Wash cars on the lawn or at a carwash.

In your Community Actions:

  • Encourage your state and local governments to protect wetlands and protect water quality.
  • Consider volunteering with the Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) on one of their weekly cleanups.
  • Participate in the Clinton Cleanup 2021 on Sept 18th with the CRWC! (see link below)

If you want to learn more about volunteering with the CRWC please look at their website here: https://www.crwc.org/events/volunteer/keeping-it-clean

If you want to learn more about the Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program, check out their website here: https://micorps.net/lake-monitoring/

The shoreline of the eastern Twin Lake at Draper Twin Lake Park.

Summer Resident Birds in Oakland Township

This post was written by Katri Studtmann, Land Stewardship Technician.

As winter turned to spring and the days got longer and warmer, I started to get excited because I knew our summer residents were on their way back from their southern wintering grounds. As their sweet songs rang again in my neighborhood, I knew spring was on its way. Where I grew up in Minnesota, the first birds back that I typically noticed were the American Robin and the Red-winged Blackbird. Every spring, my family has a contest on who will see the first robin. There are rules to this contest, of course, you must either have photo proof of the robin or someone must be able to vouch that you saw it, otherwise it does not count. My dad took the title this year, spotting and sending a picture of a robin on February 27th. Here in warmer climate of Oakland Township in southeast Michigan, American Robins are year-round residents.

As March turned to April and April turned to May, I started to notice more and more of our summer residents showing up. Many migratory birds have spectacular and vibrant breeding plumage, so it’s fun to spot these beautiful balls of color shining in the trees. Spring is one of my favorite times to bird because the trees are not quite leafed out, so the birds are easier to see. Also, with the rapid influx of migratory birds, you are never sure what you will come across on your outdoor adventure.

Migration Mysteries

The past month has been particularly fun in the parks of Oakland Township for birding since May is typically peak bird migration season. When you take a second to watch and listen, you can notice birds you have never seen before. But why do birds migrate, and where do they spend winters? These are great questions that previously puzzled many people, but with extensive research on migratory birds, we have started to learn their secrets.

Male and female bluebirds standing guard over their nest box. If you look closely, you can see the female has some food for her chicks in her beak. In Oakland Township Eastern Bluebirds are year-round residents. Picture by Cam Mannino.

Some birds like the American Crow, Blue Jay, American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, and Northern Cardinal stick around Michigan all year long, but other birds travel great distances every spring and fall. In North America, there are over 650 species of breeding birds, and of those over half will migrate! Scientists have a few theories on why some birds migrate and some do not. The two main reasons birds will migrate are for food and nesting spots. As it becomes spring in Michigan, millions of bugs start to hatch – a fantastic food for many birds. Many migrant birds are insectivores (eat insects as a primary food source), so with the high influx of insects hatching in northern areas, this is inviting for many birds to make the trek north.

If the migrants stayed south in the tropics, there would be more competition for resources with the native tropical birds, making it harder to raise their chicks. Scientists theorized that many birds head north to breed because the more moderate temperatures make it easier to hatch their delicate eggs and rear chicks. Also, the longer days in the north give birds more time to feed their young every day. Then in the fall, when the days get shorter and colder and resources start to diminish, migratory birds make the trek back south for the winter.

Common Yellowthroat perching momentarily in a tree. Warblers are often difficult to spot because they don’t sit still long enough to get a good look at them. Picture by Cam Mannino.

Of the birds that migrate, there are short-distance, medium-distance, and long-distance migrants. Some examples of short-distance migrants are Chipping Sparrow, Eastern Towhee, American Woodcock, and Red-winged Blackbirds. They are usually the first birds back in the spring since they are only migrating a state or two south. In Minnesota, most American Robins migrate a little way south, but in southern Michigan, many Robins stick around all winter.

Some medium-distance migrants include the Green Heron, Great Egret, and Gray Catbird. These birds typically migrate south but just barely. They overwinter anywhere from Virginia to the southern U.S. Long-distance migrants are the truly impressive migratory birds because many of them flying to Central or South America every year.

Some long-distance migrants include the Tree Swallow, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Wood Thrush, Orchard Oriole, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Kingbird, and Yellow Warbler. During the spring migration, there are some birds you may see for only a few days or weeks. These birds are migrating further north than Michigan to breed and are only stopping over for a few days on their journey north. This makes them especially a treat to see since the window to spot them is very small. Some migratory birds that stopped through Oakland Township this spring include the Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Palm Warbler, and White-crowned Sparrow. There are also some birds that winter in Michigan and then migrate further north to breed. A couple of examples of birds that winter in Michigan includes the American Tree Sparrow and the Dark-eyed Junco.

A White-crowned Sparrow at Charles Ilsley Park. Taken by Cam Mannino in May 2017.

Special Birds of Interest

A couple birds in particular that have fascinated me this spring are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the Eastern Wood-Pewee. I spotted my first Rose-breasted Grosbeak this spring around May 14th. We were doing a prescribed burn along the Paint Creek Trail, and my job for the first part of the burn was to stand on the trail and inform people about what was happening. As I was standing, I noticed a bird singing a sweet, complicated song. I started trying to dial in where it was coming from, then noticed the bright red chest of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak sitting in a tree not too far from me. I played his song on my Merlin bird app, and suddenly, he swooped in above my head and landed on a branch near me. I continued playing his song, and he swooped me a couple of more times. It was so cool to watch! Eventually, I stopped bothering him, and he flew away to sing his sweet song elsewhere in the woods.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak flying off of a branch and over my head.

About two weeks ago, I started hearing the unmistakable song of the Eastern Wood-Pewee in Charles Ilsley Park. My favorite part of the Pewee song is how they sing their name, “pe-weee, pe-weee.” They are tricky birds to spot with their gray-brown color. A few days later, I was at Lost Lake Nature Park and finally spotted one singing his song high on a branch. I watched him for a while, singing his little heart out high in a tree. Both the Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Eastern Wood-Pewee migrate from Central or South America or the Caribbean every year to raise their chicks in the north.

Discovering the World of Birds

The next time you are walking about in one of the parks, take a moment to watch and listen to the birds singing in the trees. You might see one of our summer residents that are only here for a few months. And if you are lucky, you might even spot a bird migrating through to its nesting location further north, or to wintering grounds further south.

If you are new to birding, you have several options to become more comfortable spotting and identifying the birds you see. One great option is to come to our bird walks every Wednesday morning. Another is to find a friend who knows their Michigan birds well. I find the best way to learn how to identify birds is to go with someone who is experienced in birding. If you don’t have any friends that are adept at birding, there are some great resources to help you determine what birds you are observing. A simple field guide is always helpful, but I enjoy using bird apps like the Merlin bird app. With this app, you can look at birds that are likely in your area, pictures of the birds, and hear what sounds they commonly make. Hopefully, the next time you are in one of Oakland Township’s parks, you will see a bird you have not seen before!

Wednesday Bird Walk Link: https://oaklandnaturalareas.com/volunteer-calendar/birding-walks/