Spring’s arrival is generally heralded as a wonderful season, a reprieve from the ravages of winter and a celebration of renewal. Thawing fields, forests and marshlands regain their color; it’s green-up time and the trees are budding; the early woodland flowers are beginning to bloom.
Northerly bird migrations also are gathering steam. In my Grand Rapids backyard, where I tend to a half-dozen bird feeders, the usual collection of well-mannered winter residents: two downy woodpeckers, a pair of cardinals and a handful of chickadees, nuthatches and juncos, typically swells into an unruly flock fighting for food at the feeders as arriving finches, warblers, robins and blue jays join them along with an array of sparrows and others.
Sitting in my kitchen looking out into the yard, I never tire of watching. Birdwatching, of course, is a pastime for millions of people.
A 2016 national survey by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service about all wildlife-associated recreation in the U.S. shows more than 45 million people watch birds around their homes or travel to do so. That finding is in keeping with its 2011 report just about birdwatching when 47 million birders were reported, and that, “Birders spent an estimated $15 billion on their trips and $26 billion on equipment in 2011.”
In Michigan, the popularity of birding is clear. Just look at the number of birdwatching festivals that are now hosted every year. Michigan has become a birder’s paradise, a destination for birdwatching fun. Writer Leslie Mertz informs readers in this issue about 17 birdwatching festivals around the region, including one of the newest on Beaver Island.
Spring gardening is another popular pastime. Julie Bonner Williams provides a look at how home and cottage owners are helping declining pollinator species like bees and butterflies by planting beautiful pollinator gardens that provide the nutrients these species require. You can beautify your yard and do something meaningful and good for nature at the same time.
For foodies who relish the idea of eating local, even foraging for wild edibles, expert forager and author Lisa Rose presents an edible treat that can be made from the most unlikely wild plant, the stinging nettle. Try it in quiche, eggs and risotto with morels.
Michigan’s position as a wine-producing state also will get a boost this spring with the ongoing custom grapevine development work being done by a northern Michigan company called Truly Michigan Vines. That feature story by Marla R. Miller is not to be missed.
But that’s not all. Whether you are fascinated by ski flying in summer, vintage-style electric boats, or just hankering for a great southern meal or a Michigan winery on the cutting edge, our spring issue is full of great reads.