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Brookridge birding

Residents head to MooseWood to observe

At left, Jamie Weeder, lifestyle and leisure director at Brookridge Heights Assisted Living and Memory Care, chats with a Brookridge resident, while MooseWood Nature Center Board of Directors Chair Scot Stewart, center, tells residents about the variety of birds that can be seen around the MooseWood Nature Center. The group took advantage of the fall bird migration season and Presque Isle Park’s opportune location for birding. (Journal photos by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — The Upper Peninsula can offer a wealth of birding opportunities throughout the year, especially during the spring and fall migratory seasons.

Residents of Brookridge Heights Assisted Living and Memory Care had a chance to experience that firsthand earlier this month with a birdwatching field trip to the MooseWood Nature Center at Presque Isle Park.

“This is a primary time for migratory and native species to be here, so it’s nice to get out, especially with winter right around the corner,” said Jamie Weeder, Brookridge Heights lifestyle and leisure Director.

Attendees were able to sit outside of the nature center to watch a variety of feathered visitors approach a collection of bird feeders with MooseWood Nature Center board member Scot Stewart, who helped them identify and learn more about the visitors to the feeders.

Although it was windy that day, that’s part of the reason why it was a prime time and location for observing multiple bird species, Stewart said.

A bird pays a visit to one of the MooseWood Nature Center’s bird feeders during a Brookridge Heights Assisted Living and Memory Care field trip to the center earlier this month. Attendees observed several species of birds and butterflies while learning how to identify them with Scot Stewart of the MooseWood Nature Center Board of Directors.

“We’re close to the lake on two sides, so you have to expect (the wind.) But that’s partly what makes this a good spot for the other birds coming through because they are looking sometimes to take a shortcut through the middle of the park here instead of going around,” Stewart said. “And traditionally, this area and the bog walk are some of the best places in Marquette for seeing birds. It’s a phenomenal spot. Just two weeks ago, they had 19 species of warblers coming through.”

The field trip, which has been held for several years running, gives attendees an important opportunity to connect with nature and get outside, Stewart and Weeder said.

“They love it and they were looking forward to it all month,” Weeder said.

Stewart regularly comes to Brookridge to show residents his photos and “talk birding as it relates to the time of year,” sharing information about native and migratory species, as well as birding trips he’s taken himself, Weeder said.

Residents enjoyed the chance to get outside with Stewart and see the birds they’ve heard about in presentations out in the wild, Weeder said.

The group saw several bird species, such as blue jays, ravens, juncos, chickadees and more. Stewart had a bird identification book and binoculars handy to help attendees identify the visitors to the feeder, explaining how to watch for the signs of certain birds approaching and distinguishing features of different species.

“We’ve already had seven species and they’re coming right here, so it’s really cool,” Weeder said, noting the field trip was a fun learning experience for her.

They also saw a rare form of salamander and three types of butterflies: a painted lady, a cabbage white and a yellow sulfur.

For Brookridge resident Aida Seppala, it was an enjoyable learning experience, she said, noting “it can be very interesting” to learn more about the various species and how to identify them — Seppala had seen juncos before, but she hadn’t know what they were called prior to the field trip.

The reason for the bird feeder setup, Stewart said, is that it makes it easier for attendees to observe and identify species, as the birds tend to pause at the feeders.

The collection of bird feeders at MooseWood Nature Center was recently reassembled by Erik Johnson of the MooseWood Board of Directors, Stewart said, as bears had pulled the feeders down the two Octobers prior to this year.

“We finally just got something new back up here,” Stewart said. “(Johnson) went all out, we had just a few spots here and the platform, and so he’s added some extra ones and we’ll add some more branches to the feeders that are there now.”

The MooseWood Nature Center is nonprofit organization that aims to “celebrate nature through education and action in the Upper Peninsula.” The organization is supported by memberships, donations, program fees, grants, and fundraisers, such as the upcoming Haunted Bog Walk to be held on the evenings of Oct. 25 and Oct. 26. To learn more about the center, its events, or how to volunteer, visit moosewood.org, call 906-228-6250, email moosewoodnc@ gmail.com. For details on upcoming programs and hours, visit its Facebook page.