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 Jackson Audubon Society

 The Audubon Society of Jackson County, Michigan

  • Tuesday, October 17, 2023 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We had a relaxing walk through Portage Lake State Park this morning.  It was cool, but it is October, and it transitioned form overcast to just short of partly cloudy.  The lake was not very busy, and only a lone Ruddy Duck stood out against the usual suspects of Canada Goose, Mallard, and Pie-billed Grebe.

    (Gary Mason)

    We got the scope out, though and got a good look at the Bald Eagle across the lake but could not nail down the buteo that was near him.  But the Cooper's Hawk was more cooperative and gave us two flyovers.

    (Steve Jerant)

    Near the swimming beach, a pair of cranes were getting some quiet time at the park, but we scared them off.  Gary mason was ready and got some great action shots.

    (Gary Mason)

    (Gary Mason)

    The woods and shrub were much more productive than the water and we were busy with kinglets and sparrows.  We got both Ruby- and Golden-crowned Kinglet, White-throated and -crowned Sparrow, and a single hard to find Brown Creeper.  

    See if you can find one on those little guys in this shot by Gary.  But don't eat those berries!

    (Gary Mason)

    Our complete trip list is available on this eBird Checklist

    And the color was beautiful!  Thanks, Gary for the great pics.

    (Gary Mason)

  • Tuesday, October 17, 2023 7:06 AM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 10/16/2023
    by Don Henise

    It appears that some Sandhill Cranes have finally moved in from the north. A count of 122 roosting Sandhill Cranes was recorded for Mud Lake Marsh in Haehnle Sanctuary Monday evening. Another 300+ Cranes were counted as flybys, most of those landing in the property to the northwest of the Sanctuary.

    (Don Henise)

    Other highlights of the evening were ducks including Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Gadwal, Blue-winged Teal, Wood Duck,  and Ring-necked Duck. Five species of woodpecker were recorded including a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

    eBird checklist:

    Total Cranes Roosting: 122

    Counters: Robyn Henise & Ross Green

    Compiled by: Don Henise

  • Tuesday, October 10, 2023 6:59 AM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 10/09/2023 by Don Henise

    There was quite a contrast in the weather from last week to this one. No one was in shorts or shirt sleeves tonight. A brisk wind blowing with temps in the low 50s at the start and dropping into the 40s by sunset.  Of course, there were no mosquitoes to contend with either.

    (Steve Jerant)

    Tonight's highlights were raptors. A pair of adult Bald Eagles were harassing the waterfowl out in Mud Lake. A stunning silver male Northern Harrier appeared late in the evening adding to the couple of immature harriers that had been working the marsh all afternoon. Several Sharp-shinned Hawks flew over the lookout throughout the count.

    Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) (Don Henise)

    Ducks flushed by the eagles included Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon and several American Black Ducks. Earlier in the afternoon an Eastern Meadowlark sat atop one of the apple trees near the lower benches for a while and a lone Purple Finch made a brief appearance. Sandhill Crane numbers continued to be lackluster with only 10 remaining in the marsh at sunset.

    Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) (Don Henise)

    Counters: Steve Jerant, Gary Siegrist, Robyn Henise, Ross Green

    Compiler: Don Henise

    eBird Checklist:

    Total Cranes Roosting - 10

  • Tuesday, October 03, 2023 5:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    The Jackson Audubon Club travelled down south to Hillsdale County this morning to visit Leaf and Feather Farm.   Owners Sydney and John gave us a tour of their property. They shared their vision of a nature-centric B&B out in the country.

    John & Sydney (Steve Jerant)

    We started the walk with a flyover of a Great Blue Heron.  The property has some old woods, drains, and views to wetland and fields. 

    The trees and underbrush were nice with oaks, hickories, black cherry, spicebush, and muscle wood. 

    (Steve Jerant)

    The birding was good. Highlights included Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk, and a few warblers. 

    Red-headed Woodpecker-Melanerpes erythrocephalus (Mike Bowen)

    We’re looking forward to more visits in different seasons and watch the realization of Sydney & John’s dream.

    Our trip eBird list contains the species observed.  

  • Monday, October 02, 2023 11:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 10/02/2023
    by Don Henise

    It was a seasonally warm afternoon and evening for our Monday Crane Count at Haehnle Sanctuary. It was pleasantly warm enough for short sleeves and short pants until the mosquitoes forced us to cover up.

    Only Seven Sandhill Cranes remained in Mud Lake Marsh for the night.  Just before dusk, many ducks began flying into the marsh - mostly Mallards and Wood Ducks, but also a few Blue-winged Teal and our first of the season American Wigeons. A Merlin rocketed out of the marsh and up over the observation hill earlier in the evening. Robyn found a Lincoln's Sparrow behind us near the overlook. Large flocks of Red-winged blackbirds are beginning to roost in the marsh and several flocks wooshed right overhead on their way in.

    Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis)

    With the warm weather, there were lots of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies around the prairie along with many Clouded and Orange Sulphur butterflies, a few Monarchs and a Viceroy or two.

    Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)

    eBird checklist:

    Total Cranes Roosting - 7
    Crane Counters - Robyn Henise and Steve Jerant
    Compiler - Don Henise
    Photos-Don Henise

  • Monday, October 02, 2023 11:51 AM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Jackson Audubon and the Haehnle Sanctuary lost a longtime supporter on September 21 when Joan passed away.  She served on the Haehnle Committee for many years.  Here are some memories from our members:

    Helena Robinovitz:

    Joan will always be in my memory with her incredible voice of warmth and fun. She was always graciously hosting the Haehnle Committee members with chips & pop & pizza & delicious homemade desserts. Joan was a trained & remarkable botanist which she put to use in helping identify many native plants at the sanctuary. She left her gentle mark on the land & in our hearts.

    Allen King:

    Being a student of Ron's, I've known Joan since they got married.  As I recall, Art Carpenter (and others I don't recall), a professor at Eastern Michigan where Joan did some teaching, got Ron and Joan together (blind date).  Art and his sons came each year to our Christmas Bird Counts.  The matchmaking worked.  I recall Ron talking about taking Joan on a date on the back roads of the Waterloo area and listening to a whip-poor-will.  Shortly after their daughter was born, I came by their house and Ron was in the yard hanging up cloth baby diapers.  Joan was recovering from a rough delivery, so Ron was doing a lot of chores while she recovered.  Joan was a great wife and mother.  She was so supportive.  Joan encouraged Amy in many interests including violin and they saw their daughter become an electrical engineer for General Motors.  That kind of surprised me, with Joan and Ron so involved in biology and nature.  For almost 50 years now, every time I see a black cherry tree I would think of Joan because she taught me a good way to identify it was by calling it the burnt potato chip bark tree.  I also taught this memory aid to my students or groups I had on nature walks.  Yes, she was knowledgeable about local history and early on she explained to me how to do rubbings of old faded gravestones to reveal who was buried. The many Christmas bird counts we went on, Joan wasn't able to go with us as she and Amy had to go to St. Jacob's Lutheran Church to rehearse for the Christmas Eve service.  Of course, Amy played the violin on these holy nights.  The many sanctuary meetings we had at the Hoffman's house were sure to have Joan's fresh baked cookies.  When they had a wood burning stove in the basement, many years back, you might hear the sound of Joan tossing in more logs to keep the fire burning.  God bless Ron for the love and care he has shown Joan in these last years of her life.  She was a special lady. 

    Sandy Leffler:

    I remember Joan as a knowledgeable, warm, and gentle lady. I met her around 2007 when she contacted my organization to sponsor a replacement bronze plaque that had been stolen from “The Boulder” on Bunkerhill Road.  This marked the site where John Batteese Bernard built the first Indian trading post in Jackson County.  Doug and I went to the Hoffman home to collect Joan’s research papers on the trading post.  Joan invited us into a room where we looked out on the bird feeders and she told us the Juncos were just coming back for the winter.  Many were at the feeders.  She loved the history surrounding the area of their home.

    Joan Hoffman and Harold Wing

    Her memorial service will be at her beloved St. Jacob Lutheran Church on October 28.  More information is available at the Mitchell Funeral Home.

    Memorial contributions may be made to:

    * St. Jacob Lutheran Church

    * The Leslie Area Historical Society

    * Alzheimer's Association

  • Monday, September 25, 2023 11:30 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    The highlight was the Sedge Wren seen in the transition area to the left of the apple trees. Only 4 cranes landed in the marsh to roost.

    Counters: Ross Green, Gary Siegrist, & Don Henise

    Compiler: Don Henise

    Total crane count was 4

    Species count:  32

    View eBird checklist at

    Photos by Don Henise

  • Tuesday, September 19, 2023 4:00 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We had a great walk along the blue and red trails at MacCready Preserve this morning.  Twelve members came along for the tour including Joann who has rejoined the group after being off for a while. It was wonderful to have her back  again-for the whole 2.64 miles of walking we did!

    (Steve Jerant)

    The Don & Robyn scouted some Swainson's Thrush yesterday and we were able to hear their calls very clearly and see them-- just not as clearly.  

    (Brenda Wineman)

    In addition to our target bird for the day, we had a very welcoming Turkey Vulture greeted us in the parking lot,  some Wood Ducks perching and a group of  Red-breasted Nuthatches, and three warblers.  While the last three of us were getting ready to leave, we heard the unmistakable call from the Red-shouldered hawk and saw it soaring high above the property. 

    Along with pretty good birding MacCready offered up some nice plants including the fruiting Jack-in-the-Pulpit

    (Brenda Wineman)

    Our trip post is available on eBird at

  • Monday, September 18, 2023 11:30 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    Haehnle Sanctuary Crane Count 09/18/2023
    by Don Henise

    (Steve Jerant)

    The first official Monday night crane count of the fall was held this evening at the Phyllis Haehnle Memorial Sanctuary. As expected this early in the season, few Sandhill Cranes were counted roosting in the sanctuary marsh. We counted a total of 26 cranes with only 8 of them settling down to roost for the night. A total of 44 bird species were observed throughout the evening.

    The highlight of the evening was an Olive-sided Flycatcher which worked its way around several of the dead snags below the observation hill on the edge of the marsh. It was showing off it aerobatic abilities as it flew many flycatching sorties - not to outdone by a by-plane which flew overhead entertaining the counters with it’s dives and climbs and rollovers.

    (Olive-sided Flycatcher Don Henise)

    (Eastern Phoebe Don Henise)

    Counters: Ross Green, Steve Jerant, Robyn Henise, Don Henise

    Compiler: Don Henise

    Total crane count was 8

    Species count:  44

    View eBird checklist at

  • Tuesday, September 12, 2023 5:30 PM | Steve Jerant (Administrator)

    We took a tour of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology this morning.  This is our second trip to the facility.  Longtime curator Janet Hinshaw retired a few years ago, so we were lead by a relatively new member of the staff, Collection Manager, Brett W. Benz, Ph.D.

    The first stop was to the lab where birds are prepared for the collection.  They are either stored as skins of reduced down to bones.  To produce a skin the bird is stripped of all internal organs, muscles, and bones. Only the feathers and legs/feet are left.  Multiple tissue samples or entire organs are saves and preserved. Depending on the species/study the contents of the stomach may be saved.

    During the intake birds are preserved before preparation in normal kitchen  refrigerator/freezers.  The tissue samples are saved in deep liquid nitrogen freezers which are able to keep the tissue well preserved for hundreds of years.  

    The facility is a working lab so we passed through some other labs as well as a documents area where there are catalog books going back to the 19th Century.  The bulk of the collection was from the late 19th and into the 20th Century.  The collection information is in a database that can be accessed by other learning and research institutions.

    In addition to the big freezers, this facility also has a very small CT imaging machine.  The scanner allows for specimens to be scanned in 3D  and provides imaging of skeletal systems and internal organs.  Bones can then be measured and added to image databases to provide sample bone structures for different taxa.  This will be able to aid bone identification without resorting to boxes of physical bone collection on the premise.

    The bird collection is the 5th largest in the nation and has about 98% of the world's species.  It includes skins (of course), bones, eggs, nests, juveniles, and tissue & stomach contents samples.  The room with the skins shares its space with mammals and insect collections.  

    Bret provided us with some views of some unique birds and we also ordered ahead for some birds to view and compare.  The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is a bit bigger than the Pileated of our Michigan woods. However, they not that closely related, but we did see the Ivory-billed's cousin the Imperial Woodpecker.  He unfortunately shares a berth in the "Extinct Taxa" drawer.

    We got to get a close look at the Coopers and Sharp-shinned cousins up close and the size range between species and sex was very apparent.  He added a Northern Goshawk to show the really cast range of these accipiters.

    Others birds of interest were the Empidonax group, shrikes, hummingbirds, and a Kiwi.

    Partial Trip List:
    Carolina parakeet
    Pileated Woodpecker
    Ivory-billed Woodpecker
    Empidonax sp.
    Imperial Woodpecker
    Common Loon
    Great-horned Owl
    Northern Shrike
    Ruby-throated hummingbird
    Gian Hummingbird

    NO eBird list was submitted, as these were all dead, it would have set off several rare bird alarms for Ann Arbor, and my eBird account would have been suspended.  But we did get a Double-crested cormorant flying over the parking lot on the way home.

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