The Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township will host the inaugural Call of the Wild nature event April 14 to introduce families to nighttime creature calls and habits.

The Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township will host the inaugural Call of the Wild nature event April 14 to introduce families to nighttime creature calls and habits.

Photo by Deb Jacques


New Nature Center event focuses on springtime, night creatures

By: Joshua Gordon | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 9, 2018

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Go outside when the sun is down and the moon is providing a glimpse of light, and you are sure to hear a number of sounds from unseen sources.

Crickets, frogs, owls and bats, among other creatures, like to hang out at night, but Jim Gammicchia, coordinator of the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township, said those animals do more than just make noises at night.

On April 14, the nature center will host a new event, the Call of the Wild, to educate families on the creatures of the nighttime as well as help welcome spring with a bonfire and roasted marshmallows.

“It’s always good for residents to know that these animals do such good for us,” Gammicchia said. “In general, they can learn more about the creatures and their benefits to our gardens, our homes, our air and how these creatures we don’t see, how they affect our lives even though they are out at night.”

For example, Gammicchia said possums and bats eat insects, such as mosquitoes, that can overpopulate in areas around homes and be a nuisance to residents. So if there is an increase in the bat population, that might keep the mosquito level low, he said.

Along with the bonfire, assistant nature interpreter Megan English said they will take people on guided trail walks on the property’s upper trails to hopefully spot and hear some owls and frogs. She said that sometimes if you call the owls, they will fly toward you, which would give people a chance to see them.

“Winters in Michigan are particularly hard, and it is nice to do an event like this in early spring,” English said. “Spring is coming; you see the first signs, and it is fun for kids and adults to suddenly hear the owls howling and to get acquainted with our ecosystem in that way.”

Besides the nighttime creatures, English said they also want to celebrate spring by educating people on how nature changes in this area of Michigan at this time of year.

“One of my favorite things is the calls of different species,” English said. “We can talk about why certain mammals come out earlier than others and answer any questions. There is this awakening sense at night in early spring.”

Gammicchia said they are targeting families, but anyone is welcome. The event starts at 8 p.m. April 14, and registration costs $2 for anyone 4 years old or older.

As the families sit around the campfire, Gammicchia said he hopes they hear each creature’s sound and learn more about the nighttime ecosystem.

“I think it is great anytime the public and our patrons can get involved in learning about the natural world around them and how the creatures, the world and their lives interact and affect one another,” he said.

Residents are encouraged to pre-register so the Nature Center can make sure it has enough staff and marshmallows for everyone attending. Registration can be done at www.shelbytwp.org or by calling the center at (586) 323-2478.