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Urban Wildlife - Meet Hawkeye

Urban Wildlife - Meet Hawkeye

Hawkeye” is the most feared creature in our urban forest.  I think the critters fear him even more than “Kitty”, the neighborhood’s gray tabby.

The critters (birds and the four legged kind) must have a sixth sense.  They will be happily eating and all of sudden they all scatter.  Several seconds later, Hawkeye will fly over the backyard or land in a nearby tree.

I think Hawkeye is a Cooper’s Hawk.  The most common urban hawk is the Cooper’s Hawk, which can be confused with the smaller look-alike Sharp-shinned Hawk.

Urban Wildlife - Meet Tommy and Henrietta

Urban Wildlife - Meet Tommy and Henrietta

George and his Backyard Critters – Meet “Tommy” and “Henrietta”:

“Tommy” and “Henrietta” are the wild turkeys who live in the neighborhood and visit our bird feeder once in a while. We don’t see the turkeys very often, maybe it’s because they can go 14 to 20 days without food.

Michigan turkeys disappeared in the late 1800’s. In the 1950’s, wildlife biologists reintroduced turkeys in southwestern Michigan and later in the northern part of the state.  Today, there are about 200,000 wild turkeys roaming around Michigan.

Two of those turkeys live in our Forest Hills neighborhood. They are the Eastern Wild Turkey variety.

Urban Wildlife - Meet Doe-Boy

Urban Wildlife - Meet Doe-Boy

Meet “Doe-Boy” and his Friends:

George’s favorite characters in our backyard drama “Urban Wildlife in Forest Hills” are “Doe-Boy” and his deer friends.

Doe-Boy loves to steal food from the bird feeder.  That’s him, or is it her, up on his/her hind legs.  Like the Pillsbury Doughboy, he warms our hearts with his antics.  Doe-Boy and his seven white tailed friends come and go all year round.

Doe-Boy is the only one in his herd that takes the food directly from the bird feeder.  The rest of them are content licking up the seeds from the ground. 

White tailed deer have taken up permanent residence in the wooded areas of Forest Hills and other suburban and urban neighborhoods.  They have lost their inhibitions of humans, and they don’t have to worry about hunters.  There is plenty of food from bird feeders to yummy gardens.

When we first moved into our home, I planted all sorts of flowers and bushes.  The dee

Urban Wildlife in Forest Hills – George and his Backyard Critters - Meet Baldy

Urban Wildlife in Forest Hills – George and his Backyard Critters - Meet Baldy

Part 2 – Meet “Baldy”

I think one of the most beautiful birds is the male Northern Cardinal.  Red is my favorite color, which is one reason why I can’t take my eyes off of cardinals.  They also have those beautiful crests on top of their heads.  Cardinals don’t migrate and keep their color all year round because they don’t molt into a dull plumage like the Gold Finch.  This means the cardinals are still breathtaking in my snowy backyard all winter long.  Don’t get me wrong, the females are also very pretty, but the males are stunning.

The other thing about male cardinals is they all look alike.   The color of their feathers is the same.  They all have the black masks around the eyes.  They all have those distinctive crests.

Then one day my husband and I saw “Baldy”.  He was unlike any cardinal we had ever seen.   My husband first spotted him in early April.  There was something seriously wrong w

Urban Wildlife in Forest Hills – George’s Backyard Critters

Urban Wildlife in Forest Hills – George’s Backyard Critters

This is a story about urban and suburban wildlife.  It’s probably a story that is repeated across West Michigan from the lakeshore to Greater Grand Rapids.  You can imagine this story happening in Grandville, Hudsonville, and Walker on the west side to Ada, Cascade, and Lowell on the east side and Rockford and Sparta to the north and Kentwood and Wyoming to the south.  It’s a story about how backyard critters can entertain us, and at other times, causes us to cringe.  This particular story is based in the Forest Hills neighborhood in eastern Kent County. 

Part 1 – Meet the Cast of Characters:

My dog, George, loves to watch what’s going on in our backyard.  My husband and I have our TV set; George has his “Backyard TV Set”.  Sometimes the scene in the backyard is a drama, other times it’s a comedy.  George can spend hours watching the “characters” having breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Eating a

Cornerstone University to host GR Audubon Club event

Cornerstone University to host GR Audubon Club event

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - The Grand Rapids Audubon Club will host an event entitled "Night Flights" on Monday, January 31st at Cornerstone University, which is located at 3000 Leonard St. NE.

Caleb Putnam, a lifelong bird expert, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

Putnam will reveal his research on the phenomenon of nocturnal bird migration, and how people can monitor it at their house for less than $100.

Putnam has been recording nocturnal flight calls at his home in Sparta, Mi., since the summer of 2009, analyzing them with free software, as well as contributing his recordings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use in long term monitoring efforts.

Putnam will share how the microphone setup works, how to identify flight calls, and where interested birders can go get started in this groundbreaking field of ornithologhy.

The meeting is free. Social time with refreshments begins at 7 p.m.

For additional information, visit: