Birding by Ear and Beyond

The Environmental Interpretive Center is partnering with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to "Celebrate Urban Birds." On the morning of May 17 at 10 a.m. we will be meeting at Gallup Park Canoe Livery in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The day will be filled with birding along the shore of the Huron River and for an extra opportunity to hear waterfowl we will be canoeing in the river. Lunch will be provided in the park and we will be celebrating urban birds through art and song until 2 p. m. This FREE event is sponsored by the Center's "Birding by Ear and Beyond" program which offers an auditory experience for blind and visually impaired individuals. All are welcome to join us as we engage in "Sensing Nature's Beauty." For further information contact Donna Posont at 313-220-8140 or dposont@umich.edu.

Nerd Nite Ann Arbor: March 27, presented by AADL at LIVE 102 S First St.

Thursday March 27, 2014: 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm -- LIVE (102 S 1st Street)

This event is intended for Adults

For the last year, crowds have gathered each month in the early evening - in bars and venues around Ann Arbor. Around 7pm, it begins: three boisterous speakers geek out up front. What is this? Some secret club?

Nope! It's Nerd Nite Ann Arbor! And it's open to anyone and everyone who loves to learn or share what they love.

For the uninitiated, Nerd Nite (NN) has been described as “...like the Discovery Channel™…with beer!” Sounds fun, right? It is! NN is held monthly in 70+ cities, giving several folks the opportunity to give 18-21minute fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines. Imagine learning about everything from the science of the Simpsons to the genealogy of Godzilla. Fun stuff!

The next Nerd Nite will be Thursday, March 27 at LIVE (102 S 1st St.). Doors open at 6:30, and speakers start at 7pm.

What topics are on tap?
Did you know about Michigan's own "Forgotten Woodstock," held less than an hour away back in 1970? Have you ever wished you could tell what the heck a tree was just by looking at it? Want to learn a little more about the most effective world revolutionary of all time? Nerd Nite Ann Arbor teams up with Ann Arbor District Library this month to bring curious folks all of this with absolutely NO COVER!

Mark Deming – The Goose Lake Rock Festival
Ben Connor Barrie – Barking Up the Wrong Tree: A Crash Course in Tree Identification
Michael Leonard – Thomas Paine: How the First World Revolutionary Fell from Fame and Became the Forgotten Founding Father (of both America and France!)

Want to see past topics and a little more info? Check NNA2's site.

This month's event is NO COVER (usually $5), thanks to AADL's sponsorship!

Mark your calendars and spread the word! Any and all nerds (and non-nerds!) who love learning and having a great time are welcome to join us for the AADL + NNA2 Mashup!

Controlled Burns in Ann Arbor's Natural Areas

Tuesday Feb. 25th | Traverwood | 7:00-8:30 PM | adults and teens (grade 6 and up)

Forest fires are usually a bad thing -- when they aren't meant to happen! However, many Natural Area Preservation organizations around the country use a method called controlled burning to actually help the land. Prescribed or controlled burning is sometimes used in forest management, farming, or prairie restoration and stimulates the germination of some desirable forest trees, thus renewing the forest.

The Natural Area Preservation of Ann Arbor will visit the Traverwood branch of the AADL to further explain what controlled burns are and why they are used in natural areas. This event is for anyone interested in helping with the burns or those who just want to learn more about them.

To learn more about the forests of Michigan, check out these great books in the AADL collection:
- Trees of Michigan: field guide
- Roadside guide to Michigan plants, trees, and flowers: an ecological approach
- Trees of Michigan, including tall shrubs
- Trees of Michigan and the Upper Great Lakes
- Michigan trees: a guide to the trees of the Great Lakes Region

February is National Bird-Feeding Month

It's been a rough winter here in Michigan, and we're not even done with it yet. But this weekend when I heard birds twittering in the trees amidst the snowfall, it put in mind the coming spring, and that's something to be excited for! While we're waiting for our beloved heralds of spring, the red-breasted robins*, there are still feathered friends among us who would probably appreciate a little celebration this February, so break out the seeds and suet - it's National Bird-Feeding Month!

Check out The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible, The Backyard Bird Lover's Ultimate How-To Guide, or The Bird Watching Answer Book for the who/what/where and when of feeding wild birds.

Not sure what birds you've got visiting your yard? Try Birds of Michigan: Field Guide, Birds of Michigan, National Geographic Field Guide to Birds: Michigan, or The Birds of Washtenaw County, Michigan. More of an auditory person? Birds of Michigan: Field Guide has an accompanying CD to help identify birds based on their vocalizations.

(*You can help observe and track the spring migration of the American robin. According to the data, looks like many are arriving early or have overwintered here!)

Family Science Workshop

Are you a dinosaur lover?

Then join us for Dining on Dinos: Long Necks, Sharp Teeth, Club Tails, Killer Claws on Saturday, January 18 from 10-11 AM at the Pittsfield Branch. This Family Science Workshop from the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History will introduce young dinosaur lovers to what fossils can teach us about dinosaurs. The event is intended for children K-5 accompanied by an adult.

You can learn more about dinosaur fossils by checking out these dinosaur fossil books. Be sure to also check out our Science Tools, some of which include models of dinosaur fossils.

See all of our upcoming Family Science Workshops here.

Let it Snow!

Snow is on its way, and with it comes plenty of cold-whether fun. From building snowmen to sledding down giant hills, there are lots of great winter activities that can only be done while snow is on the ground. Since the season of snow is almost upon us, I was very excited to stumble upon this book, Snow Play: How to Make Forts & Slides & Winter Campfires, Plus the Coolest Loch Ness Monster and 23 Other Brrrilliant Projects in the Snow by Birgitta Ralston.

If you’re looking for some creative new ways to play in the snow this winter, then this is the book for you. Learn how to make snow ghosts with glowing eyes, marble runs made out of snow, glisten ice charms, and much more. While some of the projects will work great with young children, others require lots of time and special techniques to complete. Fortunately, each project comes with a description of the project’s time frame, difficulty, the type of snow required (fresh, sticky, deep, compressed), the types of tools required, and the number of people needed to complete it.

Floral Bouquet Workshop

Tuesday February 4, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Malletts Creek Branch: Program Room AB

This event is intended for adults and teens (grades 6 and up).

Tracy Swinburn, of Ann Arbor's Red Poppy Floral Design, returns for this hands-on flower workshop.

Learn to make a small hand-tied bouquet for your sweetie, yourself or just for fun. Pretend it's not winter and enjoy a hands-on opportunity to play with flowers!

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas

From author Jim Ottaviani’s boundless curiosity and research springs another fascinating graphic historical science comic. Primates relates the stories of three female scientists and how their life experiences brought them to discovery in the world of primates. All three women are protégés of anthropologist Louis Leakey and each find their niche of study – Jane Goodall researches chimpanzee behavior, Dian Fossey becomes a leading expert on mountain gorillas, and Birute Galdikas builds world awareness and understanding of orangutans.

The adventures of these three women who would come to know one another are ably illustrated by Maris Wicks who employs a cartoon style that infuses the energy and passion of each woman. Though cartoony the earth green/brown colors lend a realism that help the reader imagine the habitats in which these women live and work.

Take a Hike@ Barton Nature Area

Thursday May 8, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Barton Nature Area

This event is intended for all ages

The City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation staff will lead a Spring nature walk in Barton Nature Area, a 102 acre park with wonderfully diverse natural features. The park is in two sections: the larger is known locally as the oxbow, and connects to Argo; the smaller is known as Foster, and is accessible only by boat from Barton Pond. The main trail in the oxbow is wood-chipped, and connects the two bridges. Most of this area is open field, but some areas are shrubby, and lower wet areas support sedges and marsh plants.

We'll meet in the parking lot off of Huron Drive just north of the intersection with Bird Road.

The Hidden Life of Wolves

From The Three Little Pigs to Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf has often been portrayed in European culture as a monster that is crafty and vicious, being viewed as either dangerous predators or rivals for food. However, other perceptions of the wolf include viewing the animal as a spirit animal, attributing human inner qualities to the creature or seeing the wolf as a source of scientific data. These concepts are challenged in The Hidden Life of Wolves, a fascinating book written by wildlife filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher who argue that the wolf is not "the wolf of nightmares," "the spirit wolf," or "the managed wolf." Instead they favor the idea of "the social wolf."

The Dutchers chronicle the story of the Sawtooth Pack and the wolves’ reintroduction to their natural habitat in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. The Dutchers lived in a tent alongside the pack for years witnessing the social behaviors of the wolf pack and drawing conclusions based on little before seen wolf actions. Throughout the Dutchers’ experience with the Sawtooth wolf pack, they were able to shed light on illusive habits of wolf packs in general, revealing the social lives of wolves. They observe the joy of the pack when pups are born as well as the mourning that occurs when the pack loses a member. Witnessing such events allows the Dutchers to conclude that wolves are more than the mythical creatures that are read about in fairy tales but instead are highly social creatures.

Not only is the information within the book detailed, but the photographs are beautiful and captivating. The Dutchers make a compelling case for the preservation of the wolf packs and their habitats. I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the social behaviors of animals and environmental issues.

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