Great blue herons are the official bird of West Bloomfield and it's easy to see why with their majestic appearance, great size and frequent sightings within our township. Also, for several years, the nature preserve you are now standing in boasted a highly successful rookery for great blues with more than 100 nests.
For those who have come before you and were able to witness the nesting season at its peak, they will tell you it was a sight to behold. However, nature is always changing and ever evolving. In 2003, a large ice storm caused extensive damage in the rookery and a great number of trees were lost. Great blue herons are highly sensitive to disturbances of any kind near and in their nesting site and the majority of herons were forced to move elsewhere. There is strength in numbers for herons in a rookery and the decline of nesting sites,combined with fewer herons, led to easier accessibility for a variety of predators like crows, hawks, raccoons and great horned owls.
What would have happened to the rookery if the ice storn had not destroyed so many trees? The rookery would have dissolved in its own time. Great blue herons are capable of "trashing" their own nesting site. Their droppings, combined with uneaten fish parts, increase the nitrogen in the soil to toxic levels and the very trees they are nesting in, die. Eventually, the herons will move on to a "clean" site in order to start a new rookery. Although West Bloomfield residents and other visitors to our Nature Preserve miss the way the rookery once was, there is still an abundance of other wildlife that can be observed here.
A common, but seldom seen species of frog, gray treefrogs have the ability to change color to match gray tree trunks or green leaves. Large, adhesive pads allow them to climb high up into trees. An afternoon thunderstorm will inspire their musical trill. When the temperature falls below sixty degrees, however, they fall silent.
Protected by Michigan law as a special concern species, this unique turtle is threatened by wetland degradation and road mortality. Its upper shell can range from 6 to 11 inches in length with small yellow dots and the long yellow neck of the Blanding's turtle makes it easy to spot in our wetland. West Bloomfield residents can be proud of the protection our Nature Preserve offers to this beautiful species.
Green herons, the size of a crow, do not lumber along in flight like the great blue heron. This frequent visitor to the wooded wetland uses downed logs as fishing piers. A minnow or frog in motion brings a lightening-fast response. The heron jerks its head downwards and forward into the water. Dinner is served.
This small beautiful species of woodland duck thrives in shallow water surrounded by trees. This acorn eater usually nests inside hollow trees, but will readily accept man-made wooden boxes placed near water. Protected habitat allows the duck population to soar, but raccoons always present a threat to duck eggs.
You can learn more about all of our resources by visiting our website at westbloomfieldparks.org
In memory of Geraldine Rissman donated by her loving family who knew how much the Woods and the birds meant to her.
Acquisition of the West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve and the West Bloomfield Trail Network were funded in part by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.