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We trade our Urban Wildlife for a rare sighting -- The elusive badger

We trade our Urban Wildlife for a rare sighting -- The elusive badger

Meet Bella, Bucky and Barry:

We leave the urban wildlife in Forest Hills and head to our cabin in Wisconsin.  In Michigan, you would call our cabin a cottage.  In Wisconsin, they are known as cabins.  Anyway I digress - our cabin is on 10 hilly acres of grassland in the bluff country of southern Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin is known as the dairy state, but the “state animal” is not a cow.  It’s the badger.  Yes, Wisconsinites have seen Bucky the Badger, the University of Wisconsin’s mascot.  But very few of them have ever seen a real badger.  Our property in Wisconsin was invaded by three badgers last year!!!!

The first sign of a badger invasion:

The first sign of the badger invasion was the yard, which was dug up.  Badgers prefer to live in open grasslands, fields and pastures.  My husband mows about four acres of our property and lets the rest of the grasses grow wild.

A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach

A break from urban wildlife for a day at the beach

LAKE MICHIGAN -  Even a dog has to take a break from all the excitement of his backyard kingdom.  On this sunny summer day, George, my husband, and I head to the beach.  Our friends, Nancy and Don, own a cottage on Lake Michigan, and they have invited the three of us to spend the day at the beach.

This is George’s first visit to Lake Michigan.  The waves were a little intimidating at first.  He would sniff the water, but he would not allow himself to get wet.  He wouldn’t even dip his paw into the water to check it out.  Then something caught his eye.  George noticed the beautiful white birds walking along the water’s edge.  He tried to get close to these interesting critters, but they would simply fly off.

Silly me, I thought seagulls only lived by the ocean, and then I moved to Michigan and discovered the Big Lake is home to a thriving population of seagulls.  I have since learned that seagulls or gulls will live al

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 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

Howard Christensen Nature Center Open-House on May 14

Howard Christensen Nature Center Open-House on May 14

Have you heard? Howard Christensen Nature Center volunteers will be hosting an Open House on May 14 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Red Pine Interpretive Center to introduce the public to the "new" nature center.

New Life for a Closed Nature Center

New Life for a Closed Nature Center

Earlier this year, due to budget cuts Howard Christensen Nature Center was forced to close.  Thanks to a group of individuals the nature center will open this spring as planned.  According to their website, www.lilysfrogpad.com, there are many exciting events planned for the center, starting with clean up day on April 23, from 9am-1pm.

The nature center boasts over 7 miles of nature trails,  preserved habitats and a lot of wildlife!  This offers a great destination for a school field trip and 6th grade camp. 

Village of Sparta Brush Pickup

Village of Sparta Residents

Brush pickup will be completed the first full week of each month form April until October.  Brush MUST be at the curb side by 7:00am the first Monday of the month.  Please no leaves, garden waste, or grass clippings.