Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (May 6, 2022) – This will be a big, big, big weekend at Crossroads. On Saturday morning, March 14, our Habitat Healers will participate in the Climate Change Coalition of Door County’s BIG PLANT. That Saturday also is designated the eBird Global Big Day, an annual event in which community scientists from around the world participate in a 24-hour global bird census. Last year 51,000 birders from 192 countries took part! We at Crossroads will participate, and we invite volunteers to join us.
Then … as if those two big activities were not enough, there will be a total eclipse of the moon on Sunday evening, May 15. This happens only when a full moon, the Earth, and the Sun are aligned. Members of the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society will welcome visitors to the Astronomy Campus (2200 Utah Street) to share the mystical wonder of the reddish Moon as the Earth’s shadow blocks the light from the Sun.
Folks need not come to Crossroads to see the eclipse, but it’s fun to gather, especially as the sky darkens and members of DPAS are there to point out the constellations as they become easier to see. DPAS guides will be at the Astronomy Campus starting at about 9:30 pm, and the total eclipse will occur at about 10:30 pm. If it is clear, it will be awesome. If it is cloudy, stay home and read a good book.
Birds become active in the early morning, so we will start our celebration of Global Big Day at The Cove Preserve, 817 S. 20th Place, at 6:30 am with a bird hike along the Big Creek Estuary from the Utah Street bridge to the bay of Sturgeon Bay. Saturday Science at 2:00 pm, our weekly family program, will focus on birds around the Main Campus. And an evening hike is planned for 6:30 pm, starting from the parking lot of the Astronomy Campus.
In a very real way, The Big Plant and the Global Big Day Bird Census are connected. The native trees species we will be planting as a part of our restoration initiative have been selected, in part, because they will enhance the wildlife habitats of our preserve. Some of the trees we plant will bear fruits and berries for resident and migrating birds. Our early spring blossoming trees will provide high quality pollen for insect pollinators.
Native trees often are host plants on which moths and butterflies lay their eggs. This is extremely important for nesting birds because caterpillars are the primary (and often exclusive) food source for baby songbirds. This cannot be stressed enough. Without native plants, there will be no baby songbirds.
Keeping a preserve bird census (our list is available on the eBird website) is a way to evaluate the success of our restoration efforts. We have been keeping records of the birds that live in and migrate through Crossroads since our restoration project began. If we observe an increase in the number and biodiversity of our wildlife, we will know that we are doing the right thing.
Consequently, we are making a concerted effort to plant for pollinators, fully aware that there are hundreds of species of native bees and wasps and moths. They all have different requirements and their needs change throughout the growing season. Clearly, biodiversity is of vital importance.
Folks who want to learn about pollinators will want to attend the in-person lecture, “Planting for Pollinators,” which will be offered at 6:30 pm, Tuesday, May 17, by the Wild Ones of the Door Peninsula in collaboration with the Door County Master Gardeners Association and Crossroads. This program will be an introduction to native plants and focus on how biodiversity will benefit our important pollinators.
Crossroads at Big Creek Learning Center and Nature Preserve is located at 2041 Michigan. Crossroads is a 501(c)3 organization committed to offering education, conducting research, and providing outdoor experiences to inspire environmental stewardship in learners of all ages and from all backgrounds. We welcome your support! Become a member of Crossroads by mailing a contribution to P.O. Box 608, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, or donate online at crossroadsatbigcreek.org