From March Madness to April showers, the signs of spring have been making their arrival in Michigan these past few weeks. You’ve probably also noticed a few more bird songs accompanying those first rays of morning light. Bird enthusiasts such as Harris Nature Center bird naturalist Clare Bratton have been venturing out more and more lately, binoculars at the ready.
All sorts of migratory birds that winter in the southern United States are returning to their northern breeding grounds. Many birds that live in Canada and Alaska are passing through Michigan. Bird watchers are keeping a close eye out for one particular subspecies whose numbers have plummeted over a period of decades.
If you discovered a new species that no one had ever seen before, what would you name it? For most of us, that’s a hypothetical question. But not for Dr. Pam Rasmussen, an assistant professor in the department of Integrative Biology at MSU, and assistant curator at the MSU Museum. She has named and described nine species of birds that were new to science and was part of a team that recently described a new bird species in Indonesia.
There are many expecting parents around Mid-Michigan, but few will produce offspring as rare as Eckert and Viper’s. The peregrine falcons are waiting for three little ones to hatch, after nesting at the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Eckert electric generating plant.
With springtime finally arriving in mid-Michigan, the sounds of the season have also emerged again. The song of the northern cardinal is one of hundreds recorded by Dr. Pamela Rasmussen. She's an assistant professor of zoology at Michigan State University and assistant curator at the MSU Museum.