Grosse Pointe Shores
Bird lovers of a feather can flock together for Ford House bird event
Visitors to Welcome Back Birds at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House last April got to learn about various local and migrating species and see demonstrations like this one, in which bird-guide author Allen Chartier measured, inspected and banded a sparrow before releasing the small bird. The second annual Welcome Back Birds takes place this Saturday.
Posted April 19, 2017
GROSSE POINTE SHORES — For Earth Day, the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House is going to the birds — and it couldn’t be prouder of that fact.
From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 22, the historic estate will again be hosting Welcome Back Birds, an event that celebrates the property’s important role as a temporary home to dozens of migratory bird species and a permanent home to countless native species. Visitors will have opportunities to go on guided bird walks, see a hawk or owl up close during a birds of prey demonstration, and learn more about what makes birds tick.
There will be hands-on activities, such as building a sun-catcher to protect birds, and visitors will be able to enjoy spring blooms as they stroll through the grounds. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will give a presentation on warblers, and there will be programs on bird banding and peregrine falcons, which have made a comeback in recent years.
“Last year’s inaugural Welcome Back Birds event was a huge success,” Ford House Education Programs Coordinator Gretchen Abrams said in a prepared statement. “It’s a great way for nature lovers of all ages to get outside, explore this beautiful natural habitat and to hear from some of our area’s top birding experts. We’re thrilled to be working with Wild Birds Unlimited-Grosse Pointe Woods, Grosse Pointe Audubon Society, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Michigan DNR-Outdoor Adventure Center and Leslie Science and Nature Center.”
Ann Loshaw, vice president for education and visitor experience, said in an email interview that about 165 people attended the first Welcome Back Birds last spring.
“This year’s experience includes more bird walks, a presentation from the Department of Natural Resources about warblers and a great photo opportunity for all of a re-created eagle’s nest,” Loshaw said.
The event is fitting for the Ford House, which has long been a popular destination for bird-watchers and is home to regular bird walks. The Ford family was known for its support of the environment as well. Edsel and Eleanor Ford — who both enjoyed bird-watching — asked their landscape architect, Jens Jensen, to build a sanctuary for migrating birds. The result was Bird Island, a preserve off the property’s northern shoreline, and it was planted with trees — including Linden, American plum and crabapple — that would draw and feed migrating species.
“(Edsel Ford’s father) Henry Ford used his influence to help ensure the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act,” Loshaw said. “It was the first piece of national legislation designed to protect migrating birds. At the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, we are right in a migratory bird path, and we have Bird Island, a specially created place to help attract and sustain wildlife on the property.”
Organizers would like to see visitors enjoy the wooded beauty of the Ford House estate, as well as learn more about the birds in their own backyard. Welcome Back Birds is designed to appeal to adults as well as kids.
“We hope visitors will leave with an even greater appreciation of birds and how important they are to the Fords and this estate, as well as our stewardship of the environment,” Loshaw said.
Welcome Back Birds takes place rain or shine. Admission costs $12 for non-Ford House members and $10 for Ford House members; children ages 2 and younger will be admitted for free. Tickets are available at the Ford House or from Wild Birds Unlimited, 20381 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods. The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores, on the St. Clair Shores border. For advance tickets or more information, call (313) 884-4222 or visit www.fordhouse.org.
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