Who knew that John Ball Zoo had two of the oldest kelp gulls in the world? Who knew that the penguins are little thieves? These factoids, along with many other eye-opening and surprising details, are shared in John Ball Zoo’s new ZOO BLOG, that launched April 11,. The Zoo plans to release a new blog on every other Thursday. Here are a few excerpts from the blogs. “Plastic grasses are made available to the flock. The birds will then compete to gather the grasses and sometimes the stones to add to their burrows. They will then lay their eggs on top of the grasses and stones. Thievery of stones and grasses from burrows is ongoing throughout the nesting season.” Posted by Animal Care Supervisor Cheryl Dykstra “We have three Kelp Gulls: Our male Sunny and girls Max(ine) and Lou. Our birds hatched at Sea World San Diego, but their origin is even more exotic.” Posted by Zookeeper Dave Blaszkiewicz To read or subscribe to the blog, go to www.johnballzoosociety.org/blog/zookeepers.
Friday, April 26 marks Arbor Day, which will be celebrated throughout the country. The City of Rockford, which has always had a long-standing tree planting and care program, which was originally started by the Honorable Judge Steven Servaas back in the 1970s. “This year, to commemorate Arbor Day, the City of Rockford will be planting a tree in honor of each baby born to Rockford residents last year,” said City Manager Michael Young. “Any resident who has been blessed with a newborn last year is asked to contact City Hall so we can get your name and address and make arrangements for the tree planting. Ideally, trees will be planted in the parkway. However, if there is not enough room due to existing trees, we would be happy to plant a tree in the resident’s yard.” “This program has been very well received in the past and it is always fun to get pictures of our new residents and their trees over the years as both mature,” Young stated. This Arbor Day Celebration will be in addition to the City’s normal tree planting where residents can purchase a tree on a 50/50 cost basis to be planted in the parkway. Any resident interested in participating in the 50/50 program are also asked to contact City Hall at (616) 866-1537 so arrangements can be made.
Squire readers are very generous with their knowledge and time. Several readers were quick to respond to our request for help to identify the mystery bird picture we published in last week’s issue. Lori Tiemen, of Wild Birds Unlimited was the first caller when the paper was still hot off the presses. She said the bird was a female mature cardinal that was not quite an albino. She said she could tell the bird was not young because juvenile cardinals have black beaks, not the bright orange in our bird. She said she was certain the bird was a female because the markings on the bird were the same as an ordinary colored female cardinal. The male of the species is the bright red we recognize for this bird, while females are usually a tan color flecked with orange and displaying color highlights consistent with the mystery bird. She said the unusual color is extremely rare and if she were to be fortunate enough to spot a bird like the one Vicki Hall emailed to us, she would “fall to the ground.” Reader R Earl Hull emailed “check out the Pyrrhuloxia Cardinal. Very close discription, but could be the “morph” also. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has the following description of the pyrrhuloxia cardinal: Dapper in looks and cheerful in song, the Pyrrhuloxia is a tough-as-nails songbird of baking hot deserts in the American Southwest and northern Mexico. They’re closely related to Northern Cardinals, but they are a crisp gray and red, with a longer, elegant crest and a stubby, parrotlike yellow bill. During breeding season Pyrrhuloxias are fiercely and vocally territorial, but in the winter they forget their disputes and join together in large foraging flocks. Based on the description that this bird lives in hot climates we would guess this is not the Michigan backyard beauty Hall photographed. The description also mentions the bird as having a bright yellow beak, also indicating that the Rockford bird is not a pyrrhuloxia. But we appreciate the chance to share information about all possibilities. Carol Himebaugh contacted the Squire with the following: My daughter lives in Byron Center and recently saw an albino cardinal with this same coloring. If you google “pictures of albino cardinal” I […]
by Terry Konkle President For over ten years the basement of our old museum has been the home of a 2,500 pound safe that came from the Hessler Building in downtown Rockford (southeast corner of Courtland and Main). We did not have any place to display it in our former building but now we do! Last week it was moved to its permanent place in the new museum. It sits proudly against the south wall and has the honor of being the first artifact to be on display. When we were given the safe, my wife Jan researched its history and the next few paragraphs are going to be written by her. In order to get information about the safe, I contacted the Mosler Safe Company which still existed in 2001. I found that they did have good records and by using the serial number on the safe’s handle, they were able to share their knowledge with me. In a letter from the company they stated that the two door safe was built in Hamilton, Ohio between July 20 and July 28, 1905. It was then shipped to B & Cook Company in Mexico. The Mosler Company gave two possible reasons for the shipping to Mexico. One was that the safe was sent there to be filled with cement. The other was that B & Cook bought the safe. The Mosler people did not know exactly why the safe ended up in Mexico. My research did not find an answer to the Mexico shipment, nor am I certain of how the safe made its way to Rockford. I was told by some folks here in Rockford that the government sold some surplus safes after World War II., and that a couple of those ended up here and are still being used. Someone suggested that perhaps that happened with our safe, but I do not know. We do know that as long as Claude Langridge owned the drug store, our safe was there. Perhaps someone can help with whether it was there before that. We were fortunate to have the combination to the safe and after several attempts, we were able to open it. The inside has another smaller safe compartment along with a large storage […]
Miracle Field Named in Memory of 16-year-old WMML board member, Nate Hurwitz The West Michigan Miracle League announced today that it will begin construction on the specialized ball field this spring. After a year and half of planning and fundraising, the West Michigan Miracle League, an organization that provides children with mental and physical disabilities an opportunity to experience America’s favorite pastime, has enough funds to begin construction this spring and begin to play ball in September. The organization has been raising money to build the new Miracle Field, as a part of the Art Van Sports Complex on 10 Mile Road in Plainfield Township. A Miracle Field features 15,000 square feet of custom-designed, rubberized turf that accommodates wheelchairs, walkers, and other assistive devices while helping to prevent injuries. “The community’s generous spirit throughout this process has been truly inspirational and contagious,” said Tony Comden, West Michigan Miracle League president. “We have now raised more than $600,000 in donations and pledges to the West Michigan Miracle League, allowing us to begin the construction process this month.” The WMML Board of Directors also announced it will name the Miracle League field in memory of Nate Hurwitz, the 16-year-old WMML board member whose goal was to give disabled children a place to play baseball, a sport he loved but was never able to play. Nate, a junior at Forest Hills Eastern High School, had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and had to use a wheelchair for much of his childhood. The teen passed away unexpectedly in September 2012, sparking an outpouring of support for Nate and his dream to see the Miracle Field built. In recognition of Nate’s life and passion for Miracle League baseball, the field will be named after him. “However, we’re not done just yet. We still have some fundraising milestones ahead of us for operating costs in future years to ensure a lifetime of experiences for these special kids,” said Comden. “And, we would like to raise some additional money to build a disability-accessible playground for both our Miracle League athletes and other children to enjoy before and after the games.” The West Michigan Miracle League plans to have a formal ground-breaking ceremony in April and expects to celebrate its Opening Day in September 2013. […]