Bird Hills and Kuebler Langford Nature Areas

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Bird Hills Nature Area is the 161-acre wooded haven for some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Ann Arbor. It is also a well loved sanctuary for myriad creatures and plants, and it's only a mile north of the downtown area. This place is spectacular in the fall. Dozens of fellow runners and hikers explore these trails every day, though they might not know about the smaller but equally varied terrain of Kuebler Langford Park, which borders Bird Hills to the east of the Beechwood Drive entrance.

Kuebler Langford Nature Area is marked by a creek-cut ravine that runs down the middle of the park, with trails heading up either side. The trails are hard packed dirt with a few picnic areas along the way where cleared out woods make for magical little harbors. On the M-14 side of the park, the soil changes to loose sand and prairie-like vegetation, which provides a wholly different experience just a few hundred feet from the woods. You'll find plenty of hills on your hike, though none too steep to climb with an ordinary pair of running shoes or hiking boots. Enjoy!

Discover some of the other outdoor gems in Ann Arbor by checking out Riverwalks Ann Arbor, Along the Huron, or Footloose in Washtenaw, or see our Events page for the Take A Hike! events through the AADL.

Literacy Series -- Nature Literacy

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Naturalistic Intelligence is the most recently identified of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. A rather under-appreciated form of intelligence in our technological modern world, Naturalistic Intelligence consists of the ability to recognize patterns, relationships and categories in nature, essentially, the ability to “read” nature and be “nature literate.”

Today, we tend to live farther and farther from nature, although research suggests that access to nature, and even dirt itself may be vital to human health and happiness. Few would argue that nature is essential to human survival -- and we need nature literate people to give us more balanced ways of living on earth.

So what can you do to foster nature literacy? Here are some easy (and fun!) suggestions:

1. Visit a natural history museum: U of M’s Exhibit Museum of Natural History is a great local resource – and guess what? We have a Museum Adventure Pass!

2. Go on a nature walk: Ann Arbor has many excellent parks available for this purpose – Matthei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum for example. And look! We have a Museum Adventure Pass for them. Also, if you act fast, you can take a hike at Greenview Park with us on September 13th.

3. Feed the birds: What better way to observe wildlife than in the comfort of your own backyard? Check out The Bird Lover's Ultimate How-To Guide for some bird feeding and watching tips. To see more birds, and other types of wildlife, too, check out the Howell Nature Center. Oh yeah, and we have a Museum Adventure Pass for them, too.

4. Read about famous naturalists: Like Jane Goodall, George Washington Carver, Rachel Carson, John Muir and Charles Darwin, to name a few.

5. Explore nature yourself!
Try these books for tips:
Hands on Nature
Sharing Nature With Children
Teaching Kids to Love the Earth

Visit Zion National Park...RIGHT NOW!

ZionZionSearching for the perfect fall getaway? Look no further than Zion National Park! I just spent three terrific days at Zion, hiking by day (in 100 degree heat!), and relaxing in the charming desert hamlet of Springdale, Utah, by night. Whether you're a casual visitor or a seasoned adventurer, Zion has trails for every level of hiker, from the peaceful Riverside Walk to the steep and arduous Angels Landing. Though short, the trip was one of the best vacations of my life and I can't recommend this beautiful and majestic park enough. And if you do decide to go, don't forget to check out one of our many park guides.

Coyotes in Our Midst

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The Ann Arbor Observer reports this month on the sighting of coyotes in Ann Arbor. Not just on the edges of town, or in parks, but in residential neighborhoods. This is, apparently, not unusual and not entirely unwelcome. The presence of coyotes has been reported in every major city of the US. They begin to appear when the population of rodents and rabbits, with no real predators in town, reaches ungainly proportions and they are actually a part of the solution to that imbalance. Though they are not a threat to humans, the article advises special care be taken at dawn and dusk to protect small pets.

The library has sources for learning more about these creatures which, through choice or desperation, are moving closer and beginning to share our spaces. For general information, try Wild Dogs, Spirit of the Wild Dog or Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst. How they come to be so close is the theme of these books: Coyotes in the Crosswalk: True Tales of Animal Life in the Wilds of the City and Animals Among Us: Living With Suburban Wildlife.

With their reputation as wily hunters and escape artists, coyotes have captured the imagination of many of the First Peoples of this continent. We have many trickster tales, folktales and native tales about coyotes, this one in the form of a graphic novel.

The book I learned the most from about coyotes is fiction, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, where she relates beautifully the great advantages of welcoming these animals into the natural order of our world. Main Street might be a bit close for comfort though!

Take a Hike @ Greenview Park

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Natural Area Preservation (City of Ann Arbor) staff will lead a walk through this 25-acre park located on Scio Church Road at Greenview. Greenview Park consists of an open field that was once a golf course. Efforts are being made to re-establish this area as a wildflower meadow.

Learn about native plants and trees, invasive plants, ecological restoration, responsible use of public lands and volunteer and recreational activities in Ann Arbor parks.

Take a Hike@Greenview | Monday, September 13 | 7:00-8:30 p.m. | Corner of Barnard and Greenview on the Greenview side of the street. Parking available along Greenview.Greenview pkGreenview pk

Monarch Magic

The World Wildlife Fund has put out a list of Ten Species to Watch in 2010. On the list with tigers, polar bears, mountain gorillas, and giant pandas, among others, are monarch butterflies. Their fate is tied to their habitat being destroyed by natural disasters and industrial development, affecting breeding patterns.

Every year millions of monarchs leave their locations and travel thousands of miles to Mexico or California to the overwintering site where they will reside until the following Spring. (Envision a forest of pine trees that are completely covered in monarchs!) How do they know how to get from Michigan or Kansas down to the same spot in Mexico every year? That is THE question, and it has been well studied for years. Not only is their migration fascinating, but their complete life cycle is as well.

To read up on the monarch butterfly, AADL has you all set with a list of books. For the younger set I recommend Monarchs, and The Monarch's Progress: Poems With Wings. For the adults, a real winner is Chasing Monarchs: Migrating with the butterflies of passage, by Robert Michael Pyle. For more info, MonarchWatch.org is an excellent source for all things monarch, whether you’re a student, a teacher, or a life long learner.

When you see those orange beauties flying in the sky this Summer, or perhaps perched on some milkweed, give them a second look.

Take a Hike @ Dolph Nature Area

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Join Natural Area Preservation staff for a free hike through Dolph Nature Area. This is the only nature area to have naturally formed lakes, First and Second Sister Lakes. A staff naturalist will point out wildflowers, trees, and shrubs and talk about ecological restoration, as well as volunteer activities in Ann Arbor Parks, recreation opportunities, and responsible use of public lands. Plenty of time will be available for questions. Meet in the main lot off Wagner Road between Jackson Road and Liberty Street.

Dolph Nature Area Hike | Thursday, July 29 | 7:00-8:30 PM | All Ages

Take a nature walk at Wurster Nature Area

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Join Natural Area Preservation staff for a free nature walk through Wurster Nature Area. A staff naturalist will point out wildflowers, trees, and shrubs and talk about ecological restoration, as well as volunteer activities in Ann Arbor Parks, recreation opportunities, and responsible use of public lands. Plenty of time will be available for questions. Meet at the Edgewood Place cul-de-sac just off of West Davis Avenue. Parking available on the outer ring of the cul-de-sac.

Wurster Nature Area Hike | Thursday, July 15 | 7:00-8:00 PM | All Ages

A River Runs Through It

A River Runs Through It

Having loved the movie, A River Runs Through It, when the book recently crossed my path I decided to give it a try. In the forward, it is praised to the skies by Annie Proulx and I can see why. It is a perfectly beautiful, evocative, autobiograhical tribute to the three things that Norman Maclean loved: being raised in Montana near the Big Blackfoot river, fly fishing, and his brother, Paul, the one who raised fly fishing to an art, and who lived wild and free and died young.

Now I am not that interested in fly fishing. Nevertheless, the descriptions of Norman and Paul wading through the shadowy pools of the Big Blackfoot, luring the trout with imitations of various flies, are so lyrical and beautiful that I could see and feel and hear the river and their total artistry in fishing it.

Ultimately, the novella is about trying to love the people who are in our lives but we who we don’t completely understand. “It is those we live with and love and should know, who elude us”, says Norman at the end. “Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them… I am haunted by waters.” Maclean wrote the book when he was 72 years old, looking back on his memories of the brother and the river he loved.

It's Contest Time @ the Library! Lego & Photo Contest Guidelines!

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If it's summer it must be time for our annual contests! This year is our 5th annual Lego Contest & we're inviting ADULTS in on the fun!! We're also pleased to announce our Make It Happen in Ann Arbor Photo Contest! Use your leisurely summer time to focus your creativity and take a chance on winning! In order to enter either contest participants must read and follow the rules and guidelines.

Children, teens and adults are invited to enter the 5th Annual Lego Contest & the Make It Happen Photo Contest. Winners of both contests will receive gift cards to Target. Once again the Lego contest will take place at Weber's Inn (3050 Jackson Ave) on Thursday, August 5. The Make It Happen Photo Contest Award's Ceremony will be on Wednesday, July 28 @ the Downtown Library. For complete rules & submission guidelines for the Lego contest click here. For the Make It Happen photo contest rules & guidelines click here.

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