J.J.Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store
J.J. Cardinal site navigation J.J. Cardinal site navigation


As an independent, locally owned business we're proud of our community involvement and sponsorship of events and educational programs. This page summarizes highlights of our coverage by the media. We're also delighted by the recognition and awards we've received.
freshly baked

Here are a few of our most recent press clippings; links to articles published prior to 2005 can be found at bottom of page.

GB View photo & caption: "Owner Louise Dawson (left) and her staff, including Tammy Stedman (right) will be hosting an open house this Saturday, December 3 at JJ Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., which will feature sales and refreshments."

JJ Cardinal’s to mark 25 years with open house

“They always say if you can pair what you love to do with your work, you’ve got it made.”

written & published by the Grand Blanc View
December 1, 2016

GRAND BLANC — It takes a lot to run a successful small business, and it takes even more to run a successful business for a quarter century. For Louise Dawson, owner of JJ Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store, it takes perfection, which is the reason she’s been a fixture in Grand Blanc for 25 years. This Saturday JJ Cardinal’s will host their 25th anniversary open house, which will feature sales and refreshments from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

“You have to execute everything with perfection, it seems,” said Dawson. “When you’re a small business, you can’t cut corners. You have to have a passion and know what you’re doing. And you need to be able to help people and share your knowledge. It’s all in the details.”

Dawson and her husband, Michael, have owned and operated JJ Cardinal’s since Dec. 3, 1991, when the couple opened the store after Dawson decided to follow her passion, which is “everything nature.”

“I’ve always had a natural curiosity for nature,” said Dawson. “I also liked to be around people, and I was in retail for a long, long time, and decided I wanted to open a store on my own. They always say if you can pair what you love to do with your work, you’ve got it made.”

The store sells feeders, bird houses, seed, suet, hardware, accessories and much more. The store also includes a children’s section, which Dawson says has attracted field trips and birthday parties in the past. Along with attention to detail and a passion for one’s occupation, in order for a small business to operate successfully over all these years, it also requires a sense of connectedness and community, which permeates through the store and into the surrounding area “I still have a good relationship with the first person that ever came into the store as a customer,” said Dawson.

“Our customers are extremely important and need to be recognized.” JJ Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store is located at 12830 S. Saginaw St. in Grand Blanc. For more information, visit them online at www.jjcardinal.com or call (810) 695-8733.

Grand Blanc View

Flint Journal 3/25/12

Screenprint Flint Journal 'entertainment calendar" which states: Make your own kite at JJ Cardinal's!

Make Your Own Kite

Published: Thursday, March 08, 2012 MLive.com

A hands-on, kite-building experience for age 5 to adult, Wednesday, April 4, 2:30 pm, at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw, Grand Blanc. $14.95

Please call 810-695-8733 to make a reservation. (See, also, our "events page" for more fun activities!)

screen print of 011512 GrBlancNews

Screenprint of final issue of Grand Blanc News on MLive.com

J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store plans sunflower growing contest

January 15, 2012 Grand Blanc News (MLive.com 01/11/12)

Are you ready to think about digging in the dirt? Seed catalogs are hitting mailboxes and J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store is now giving out packets of sunflower seeds to those interested in participating in our free, annual sunflower growing contest. We will have two winners, the tallest plant and the largest sunflower. The contest ends Saturday, Sept. 22. Stop by J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw, in Grand Blanc for more information.

web-link:  2011 winners

note: sadly the printed version of the Grand Blanc News has come to an end...sign of the times, perhaps. We thank the nice folks at the Flint Journal for past "coverage" of our community activities and will be curious to see how well the revised MLive.com site carries local news stories.

Grand Blanc News 11/27/11

photo: Louise Dawson
Some of the handmade ornaments crafted by
the employees at J.J. Cardinal's.

2011 'Giving Tree' ornament now on sale at J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc

November 27, 2011 Grand Blanc News (MLive.com 11/8/11)

Each year since 1998, J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store has designated a group or cause to receive money from the sales of ornaments from our "Giving Tree". This year we have selected FISH because the money will stay local for those who need it for items such as food and school supplies. This year's ornaments were made out of wood donated by Michigan Lumber and cut, sanded and then hand-painted by the employees of J.J. Cardinal's. This year's Giving Tree is now on display at our store J.J. Cardinal's, 12830 S. Saginaw in Grand Blanc. Ornaments are $2 each. We hope you will find a place for a few of them on your tree or gift packages this holiday season.

[Added notes: FISH is a non-profit organization providing food and needed assistance to the local families throughout the year. The organization has coordinated these good works to families in the Grand Blanc School District for over 30 years. Anyone interesting in donating items or sponsoring a family can call the FISH Inc. at (810) 695-1880.]

suitable for framing!

photo: Louise Dawson

Brendel Elementary School kindergartners' art available at J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc

Published MLive.com Wednesday, June 15, 2011; and in the Grand Blanc News July 3, 2011

J.J. Cardinal's recently presented a program about Michigan's nesting birds to the kindergarten classes at Brendel Elementary School in Grand Blanc. To show their appreciation, the children created watercolor pictures of birds along with their thank-you notes.

They are so adorable that we feel they are suitable for framing! You can purchase one for a $5 donation at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw in Grand Blanc.

All monies will be given back to Brendel Elementary School to be used for next year's special programs.

Detroit Free Press May 14, 2011

photo and layout © Detroit Free Press

Bird is the word

Attracting Feathered Creatures To Your Yard 
May 14, 2011 by Megan Swoyer Garbinski, Free Press Special Writer

Hang out at Wild Birds Unlimited in Rochester Hills and you'll hear all kinds of stories about Michigan's intriguing winged beauties, especially now as purple martins and Baltimore orioles find mates and set up their nests for the next few weeks. "I had a guy come in here just last night who had counted - the best he could as they were flitting around everywhere - 30-plus orioles in his yard," says Wild Birds Unlimited owner Karl Stuecher, who runs the store with his wife, Linda. "He went through tons of oranges and a quart of grape jelly in a week!" Stuecher says, laughing. "They'e such pretty birds, so bright and orange and tropical-looking."

Stuecher, who has owned his bird emporium for about three years, started watching birds some 20 years ago, after he received a bird feeder as a Father's Day gift. "Look where that led," he says with a grin. Stuecher is quick to tell customers there's a lot they can do to open their yards to a variety of gorgeous birds. In Commerce Township, homeowners Dawn and Fred Bause are putting out the welcome mat for purple martins. "They have the cutest chatter, very talkative," says Dawn Bause, a professional chef and culinary tour guide. "Their bodies look like stealth bombers." She and her husband, Fred, record the goings-on of the darting purple insect eaters regularly in their journal. The couple (they call themselves purple martin "landlords") even has a special bird-watching room that looks out to their 12-compartment martin house, which sits high above the shores of Long Lake.

Whether you want to be a landlord or just want to attract some enchanting birdlife to your yard, the following expert tips will help:

PUT OUT NECTAR. Baltimore orioles (orange and black in color) are migrating into our area now, says Stuecher. "They (and the ruby-throated hummingbird) are nectar feeders, so put nectar out," he says. "I saw my first hummingbird last night." Orioles also like grape jelly.

GIVE THEM PRIVACY. Baltimore orioles are a bit timid, Stuecher adds, "so hang their feeder away from your regular birding stations."

TALL IS TERRIFIC. Baltimore orioles like tall, deciduous trees for nesting and they typically nest at about 20 feet off the ground, Stuecher says. The birds hatch four to six eggs in early summer.

SPIKE THEIR FOOD. "There are great feeders now with spikes to put oranges on, which will attract Baltimore orioles," says Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc. She sells feeders and birdhouses from all over, including those made by her husband, Mike, who also creates custom work for birdwatchers.

STOCK UP ON SALVIA. "Hummingbirds like the salvia (a plant of the mint family with colorful flowers), so I put that out around my feeder," Stuecher says.

LISTEN UP. If you hear a specific bird from morning to night, it may be the male wren, who sings throughout the day to attract and call to his mate, Stuecher says. Not up on your wren sounds? Stuecher sells recordings of a variety of birds (from about $37-$100). Digital pocket bird sounds are a big hit, he notes.

STAY NEAR. Purple martins like people. If you're near a martin house, they will fly near you and chatter to you.

JOIN THE CLUB. Consider becoming members of bird organizations such as the Purple Martin Society (www.purplemartins.com) or North American Bluebird Society (www.nabluebirdsociety.org).

GIVE THEM SPACE. Purple martins like to have an open habitat. "It's hard to attract them in Michigan unless you have open air and water nearby," says Dawson. "They get their food in flight, so a wooded, more-closed area really hampers their foraging activity."

THEY'LL WHISTLE FOR THISTLE. "Indigo buntings love thistle seed and sunflower seeds," Dawson says. "They also love dandelion seeds, so if you want more of these types of birds, keep your dandelions."

GET THE BLUES. "We feed the Eastern bluebird all year," Dawson says. "To attract them, put out a birdhouse just for them. A chalet-style, peaked roof works well." Bluebird homes are usually attached to something, like a pole about four feet off the ground. "Bluebirds don't like to swing and they like open areas," Dawson says.

source: Detroit Free Press.

Hey!  Wanna' grow a massive sunflower this summer?

J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc plans sunflower growing contest

March 18, 2011 - MLive.com

J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store is having our first ever sunflower growing contest this summer. It's a great way to get kids and adults out into the garden, thinking about growing things and how that happens. They'll learn about soils, how to fertilize, sun positioning, watering requirements, and of course, all about friendly competition.

If you would like to participate in the contest just ask for a free little packet of seeds the next time you visit J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw in Grand Blanc The contest ends Saturday, September 24 (2011), when you will bring in one or two plants for measurement.

We will have two winners: the largest diameter sunflower head and the tallest plant. The winners will have "bragging rights" for a year and will receive a free 40 pound bag of ... you guessed it, sunflower seeds!

March 14, 2011 - JJ Cardinal's visit Dowdall Elem. school

photo courtesy J.J. Cardinal's

Dowdall Elementary students working on their bag design ideas.

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J.J. Cardinal's teams up with Flint's Dowdall Elementary School for Earth Day

reusable canvass tote bag March 18, 2011 - MLive.com

J.J. Cardinal's staff went to Dowdall Elementary School this month to present an idea to the children of Carol Delorme's fifth grade class. We asked them if they would like to decorate the reusable canvas shopping bags we offer at our store in celebration of the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, April 22.

They loved the idea and began coming up with design ideas even before I left. The decorated bags will be available at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw in Grand Blanc, in early April for $6.97 each. They will feature an Earth Day theme and an environmental message. (Update 10-14-11: totes are sold out.)

giving tree at JJ's

handmade ornaments on Giving Tree at J.J. Cardinal's generates funds for local FISH organization. photo by  Louise Dawson © 2010.

The 2010 "Giving Tree" at J.J. Cardinal's

October 14, 2010 - MLive.com
Flint Journal - Grand Blanc Community News Sunday October 17, 2010

Since 1998, J.J. Cardinal's has designated a group to donate money to, the money collected from the sales of ornaments off our "Giving Tree." This year we have selected FISH because most of the ornaments purchased are by people within our community. The money will stay local to those who need it for such items as food, school supplies, and medical and dental needs,etc.

"test drive by moonlight" Halloween ornamentFISH of Grand Blanc is a local organization that started in 1974. The first FISH group began in England in 1961. The word FISH recalls the symbol the early Christians used to identify themselves. FISH is comprised of a group of volunteers from the community. Many individuals, churches, service organizations, and businesses support FISH throughout the year.

Many of the ornaments we have this year were made out of wood donated by Michigan Lumber; the wood was lovingly cut out, sanded, and then hand-painted by the employees of J.J. Cardinal's. The Giving Tree is on display inside J.J. Cardinal's and ornaments start at $2. We hope you will find a place for a few of them on your tree or gift packages this holiday season.

(Note: most ornaments have a Christmas holiday theme: gingerbread characters, stockings, trees. There are a few for Halloween like "test drive by moonlight" above...some are great for any season like our JJ Cardinal symbol, hearts and stars.)

Louise Dawson video clip by Flint Journal

Screen shot of video of Louise Dawson discussing children's activities and programs available at J.J. Cardinal's. Video by Jean Johnson of the Flint Journal © 2010.

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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store has lots of summer options for kids

June 24, 2010
Flint Journal - Grand Blanc Community News
Jean Johnson - Journalist & Videographer

Video clip can be seen at MLive.com a fabulous source for local information and news. [revised - video no longer posted on MLive site.]

Transcribed text from video: Louise: "I'm here to tell ya' we've got a lot of fun kids activities going on this summer, and we're always excited when kids get out of school because our store is then full of 'kid noise'. And we have the programs to keep 'em busy this summer so they can keep their brain's engaged. In addition, too, all the bird feeding equipment and sales that we have to host your wild animals in the area...come and check us out."

032610-freep.jpg (15067 bytes)

Line drawing of hummingbird by Louise Dawson; logo for Detroit Free Press Copyright © 2010 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Ruby- throated hummingbirds sighted

March 26, 2010
Detroit Free Press
By Homestyle design writer: Susan R. Pollack

You’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier shop than J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store, an independently owned enterprise in Grand Blanc that promises “a real, live, cheer­ful, knowledgeable person answers the phone” when you call. Proprietors Louise and Mike Dawson are excited about recent, rare (though unconfirmed) sightings by experienced birders of ruby-throated hummingbirds in the area. They suggest now would be a good time to install a humming­bird feeder. “Because of the sugar-to-water ratio, the nectar will not freeze until temperatures dip below 26 degrees, so it should be safe even for glass feeders,” says Louise.

She also recommends a DVD called “First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story” by Noriko and Don Carroll.
[Detroit Free Press 03.26.10 - Page H3, Welcome Mat, Homestyle section]

photo by Sarah A. Miller of the Flint Journal (02/05/10)

photo by Sarah A. Miller | The Flint Journal
Louise Dawson of Grand Blanc holds a thank-you letter from a girl who won a computer that Dawson gave away through an essay contest sponsored by her store, J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird and Nature Store. “We’re very much about education, “ Dawson says.

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Whether it's donating laptops or speaking to students, Grand Blanc's Louise Dawson is there to help

By Scott Atkinson | The Flint Journal
February 05, 2010, 7:45AM

GRAND BLANC — For Louise Dawson, it’s all about education. “I just always enjoyed sharing knowledge with other people, because I think education is very powerful,” the owner of J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird and Nature Store in Grand Blanc said.

Dawson is known among her customers for her knowledge of the natural world, but for those who don’t — or can’t — walk through her door, she reaches out to them. Most recently, she and her husband, Michael, held an essay contest for local students 8 years old and younger, with the winner receiving a free laptop. The criteria for the essays was, “How were they going to use the computer to learn and how were they going to use the computer to help someone else,” she said.

The Grand Blanc Township couple bought the computers through the One Laptop Per Child organization, which sells laptops to people interested in donating them to students in third world countries. The Dawsons have done it in the past, never seeing the young recipient or even knowing who or where he or she might be. They found out this year that OLPC was offering donors a second laptop for the same price of $199 to use for themselves. “And I just said, ‘Way cool. We can get the second one and give it away to somebody locally,’” Louise Dawson said.

Out of the 13 entries in the essay contest — Louise Dawson said she’s still surprised there weren’t more — the couple picked the random winner among them. It was 8-year-old Manideepa “Mandy” Rossie. Mandy and her sister were both adopted from a poor area of India and their mother, Michelle Rossie, said the laptop is fantastic for Mandy, whose eyesight is so poor she’s considered legally blind. “It’s a really great thing for her because the XO computer has bigger print for her, so she can actually see it. Louise is just super for doing this,” Michelle Rossie said.

It’s not all Louise Dawson does. Each year during the Christmas season, Louise Dawson sets up in her store the “Giving Tree,” a Christmas tree covered in ornaments she sells to customers, with all the money going to charity. Each year she spends about $1,000 on the ornaments.

When she’s not buying laptops for children or selling Christmas ornaments, she can also be found in local classrooms, senior centers and nature parks, sharing her knowledge. “She’s been awesome over the years for me,” said Grand Blanc fourth and fifth-grade teacher Vickie Weiss. Dawson has donated bees to Weiss’ students for a class project, visited the classroom and taken them on nature walks in local parks. “Her knowledge of all things in nature, her understanding of how the world works, is amazing. She’s community-minded and she’s interested in sharing her knowledge,” Weiss said.

Louise Dawson said sharing that knowledge is a give-and-take relationship. “You know, we both get something out of it. It makes you feel good to help other people,” she said. “It is part of my makeup. I have a very curious mind. I don’t know, I enjoy learning things so, when you’ve got a passion about something, don’t you like to share it with others?” 

follow-up: ornament sales results

handmade wooden gingerbread figures like these above were popular.


for all those who bought an ornament this past holiday season: thank You!follow-up story to November 4, 2009 Flint Journal article (below)

Grand Blanc nature store raises money for charity of holiday season

By Scott Atkinson | The Flint Journal
January 07, 2010, 8:53AM

GRAND BLANC - J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird and Nature Store raised $549 dollars over the holiday season, which they donated to Fenton-based Adopt-a-Pet and the Humane Society of Genesee County.

Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal’s, raised the money through her Giving Tree, a Christmas decorated with ornaments for sale. The money from the ornaments sold goes toward the donations. Dawson said they usually raise about $1,000 for charity. “(It’s) not as much as we hoped, but certainly more than if we had not set the tree up this year,” She said.
old link - http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2010/01/grand_blanc_nature_store_raise.html
photo (right) by L. Dawson

XO Laptop - pronounced Ex-Oh
[laptop photo by Louise Dawson - video image is obviously a simulation.]


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Even web-blogs have picked up the story!

on-line web-blogA Clever Retail Store Marketing Contest Geared to Kids

Thursday December 3, 2009
by Lahle A. Wolfe
In a recent article, I discussed how offering coupons to specific customer groups can help broaden your customer base. It seems that J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store is applying this principle to a contest. In a very clever marketing approach, they are running a contest for kids. This is a great way to get kids involved in nature and bird watching and generate new customers - their parents.

The store is is running an essay contest for children up to 8 years old and will give away a new laptop computer to one lucky child. To enter, kids need to submit an essay of 100 words or fewer on how they will use the computer to learn and help others. Enter the contest online at [webpage removed - contest over] or visit J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store to pick up an entry form. The store is located at 12830 S. Saginaw Street in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Contest deadline is January 9, 2010.

You can find more business contests in WIBs Forums, or get instant biz contests alerts by subscribing to me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AboutWIB. (Old link no longer functioning.)
Lahle A. Wolfe is the founder and CEO of IPump.org, Inc., the largest, full-service, nonprofit diabetes assistance organization serving the entire United States. She is also the president of Islets of Hope, an international diabetes advocacy service, and president of LA Wolfe SEO Marketing, LLC.

Local business sponsors free PC contest

news from the GB View 11/19/09 - see more online at Viewnewspapers.netThursday November 19, 2009, Grand Blanc View
GRAND BLANC - A local child will have a chance to win a new computer, thanks to a program by J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store of Grand Blanc. Earlier this year J.J. Cardinal's bought two XO Laptop Computers from the One Laptop Per Child Foundation (OLPC project). One computer was given to a child in a developing country somewhere in the world, in hopes it would provide them with access to knowledge and the opportunity to explore, experiment and express themselves.

The second XO Laptop will be given by J.J. Cardinal's to local child as a way to help promote this important project. Children up to age 8 may enter to receive this laptop personal computer by submitting an essay, 100 words or less, on how they will use the computer to learn and help others.

These rugged computers use flash memory instead of a hard drive, and operate on much less power than traditional laptops. XO comes with a Linux operating system and runs software designed for education. The keyboard is spill-proof and the swiveling green "ears" on the side of the monitor contain a powerful built-in WiFi antenna for wireless connection. “We feel the XO is an awesome, potent learning tool designed and built especially for younger children,” said Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal’s. To learn more about this contest stop by J.J. Cardinal’s or visit online at: [webpage removed - contest over].

Business Sponsors Laptop Giveaway

as reported in the Flint Journal 11/15/09Sunday November 15, 2009, Flint Journal "Grand Blanc headlines" (pg. A8)

J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store is holding an essay contest and will award the winner with a new laptop computer. Children up to age 8 can enter the contest by submitting an essay of 100 words or less on how they will use the computer to learn and help others.

J.J. Cardinal's bought two laptops this year for the One Laptop Per Child Foundation, and bought one for a child in a developing country, owner Louise Dawson said. To enter the contest visit [webpage removed - contest over]  or visit J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, to pick up an entry form. Deadline for the contest is January 9 [2010].


Flint Journal photo

Louise Dawson, owner of JJ Cardinal's Wild Bird Store can tell her customers where each of the ornaments on her giving tree were made, and who made them. Dawson donates the money from the ornaments to a charity benefiting animals or wildlife each year.

as reported in the Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News...

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Grand Blanc store owner helps animals during holiday season

By Scott Atkinson, Flint Journal
November 04, 2009

GRAND BLANC, Michigan — The first of October may be a little early to be putting up a Christmas tree, but for Louise Dawson it’s becoming something of a tradition, and not one that necessarily has anything to do with Christmas.

“People would come in and say, ‘Oh my God, you have a tree up already?’” the owner of JJ Cardinal’s Wild Bird Store in Grand Blanc said. “And that’s when we decided we needed to change the name. And it works.” Now, the tree sitting in the corner of her store on a special wooden platform is known as the Giving Tree. For ten years it’s sat in the special corner each fall and winter, covered in ornaments for sale with one purpose — helping animals and the environment.

It all started, Dawson said, because she had to find a way to organize and control her donating habits. “Any small business owner will tell you that every day you have people coming in and asking for donations, and it’s hard saying no,” she said. “The accountant said I’d go broke if I kept giving things away.”

Now the giving tree takes care of the donations. The tree is covered in handmade ornaments from across the country (Dawson only buys American crafts) with all the money earned from them going to different organizations each year. Selecting what crafts she sells in her store is something she takes seriously. Standing by the Giving Tree, she easily picks off ornaments and can tell who made them, where, and with what tools. “We can tell you a story about almost anything in here,” she said.

This year Dawson is donating to the Genesee Humane Society and the Genesee Audubon Society. Dawson said she typically sells about $1,000 worth of ornaments, which range in price from two dollars to $26. If she sells everything on the tree this year — on which she spent about $975 — she’ll bring in about $1,300 to donate, she said. Dawson said she picked charities that benefit animals or the environment because she knows they have a hard time raising funds.

That was precisely why Melissa Butler, of Lapeer, decided to buy an ornament. After approaching the counter with a birdhouse, Butler didn’t know the purpose of the Giving Tree or have any plans to buy an ornament that day. After Dawson told her what it was all about, she said she had to buy one. “I had to purchase something before I left,” she said. “I’m an animal lover.”

Dawson said she’s starting to see returning customers who come in just for the tree. “It’s really awesome. There are people coming in asking when we’re going to set up our tree,” she said. 
(Old web link no longer functioning - http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/11/grand_blanc_store_owner_helps.html)

story by Grand Blanc View

Joe Volker stars in GB VIew photo-story; photo by Sarah HarbisonSquirrel feeder class

Grand Blanc View
April 16, 2009

Joseph Volker, naturalist at J. J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store, helps Aren S., 5 of Grand Blanc, make a squirrel feeder on April 9 at the shop. About six area children participated in the squirrel feeder class, which allowed the children to create a feeder out of three pieces of wood, four screws and half of a dried corn cob. During the week of spring break, the store offered a different class each day. Normally, the store, 12830 S. Saginaw St., offers about five classes a month, Volker said.

JJ Cardinal's Cute Lil' Squirrel Feeder Kit - assembled, with cob corn[View Photo, left, by Sarah Harbison. The above GB View article was edited by JJ Cardinal's web-guy. The Cute Lil' Squirrel Feeder Kit is available online: http://www.jjcardinal.com/kids.htm#goodplanet]

Big Brothers Big Sisters logo

Big Brother Project at JJ Cardinal's

Monday's ChildFilm crew & reporter from WJRT TV ABC-12 were at JJ Cardinal's recently to film Jordan making a bird feeder for the "Monday's Child" segment on the noon-news program. The creative kid was helping promote the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Genesee County.

Broadcast Date: Monday 03/23/08

More Info about Genesee County's Big Brother/Big Sister program: http://www.bbbsflint.org/

In the event you missed it the short story is available online:
http://abclocal.go.com/wjrt/video?id=6724295 (old link - no longer valid)

Your Magazine logo

Adopt-A-Pet Gala & silent auction; Nov. '08.....click here to visit their websiteAdopt-A-Pet Gala & Silent Auction

Your Magazine Vol. VI, No. 1
January 2009

November 15, 2008 Camp Copneconic
L to R: Louise Dawson, Bridget Pilcher, Marie McNichol
photo by Cindi Chappell, Your Magazine

[the Gala & Silent Auction was a benefit for Fenton's Adopt-A-Pet]

todays 3 R's: recycle, reuse, reduce waste

Going green: Businesses ride wave of environmentalism with flood of products

The Flint Journal
Sunday April 20, 2008
by Melissa Burden

Looks like going green isn't just good for the environment. It may also be good for business. Retailers and businesses across the area and nation are rolling out new eco-friendly initiatives and hoping to see some greenbacks in return...

J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc is aiming to go bagless by Earth Day this week and is selling special totes to replace both paper and plastic ... The go-green message is firmly rooted at J.J. Cardinal's, where natural canvas totes sell for $9.95 each to replace disposable bags. Those totes can carry 30 pounds of bird seed, said Bob Worley, a naturalist at the store. [Totes have long since sold out.]

as reported in the Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News...
April 5th, 2008 - Nature Hike

Nature Hike participants - April 5, 2008
(photos by L. Dawson).

Treasure awaits on a trail near town once called 'Grumlaw'

Sunday, April 20, 2008
By Jack Blosser Community Columnist

GRAND BLANC - I doubt it's any secret that I cherish the Commons. A magnificent Grand Blanc treasure, it hopefully will be there for generations, a tribute to those who worked to secure it in perpetuity. I don't know their names, but I breathe a silent "Thank you" with every hike.

There's something very special about this little piece of our pioneer history. With trees, meadows, trails and a stream, it's easy to slip back a century or so, and wonder what feet have trod similar paths, or maybe even some of the very same ones.

In her 1973 booklet, "A Town Called Grumlaw," Ellen Venos put it this way: "As thousands of people daily drive, walk or cycle through Grand Blanc, it is difficult to imagine the territory as it was nearly one hundred and fifty years ago when only one 'white' family lived in the town called 'Grumlaw.'"

On a recent Saturday, I pulled into a parking spot at McFarlen Library (another favorite destination) and met my much-admired friend, Louise Dawson of J.J. Cardinal's. Louise leads a hike in the Grand Blanc Commons at 10 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month, an event I'm always eager to join.

youth: curious, observant, and engaged during Nature Hike sponsored by J.J. Cardinal's This one got a special "page" in my memory book. Several fellow travelers already were waiting, and even more showed up before we headed down the trail. Along with some adults, we had children of all ages, well behaved and very curious, with lots of questions. All the lads and lasses were alert to the sights and sounds of nature.

As we walked toward the bridge over the creek, several spotted a pair of ducks swimming upstream, and it only got better as our little coterie moved along the footpath. This was a great game, and the high level of interest and questions continued to energize Louise. "What are these upside down Ds in this tree?" "What kind of a tree is this?" "Look at this funny insect with the red mark on its back - what is it? "What bird made that sound?" The questions came at a steady pace, and our well-informed guide had ready answers for virtually every one.

I've been trekking those same paths with Louise and her varied groups since one bitter cold February morning several years ago. I quickly learned to dress more warmly for winter walks, and I now make probably 60 or 70 percent of these healthy and educational trips.

I'm happiest when I see the younger set there, because they are the future protectors of this priceless natural habitat, and I am very thankful for Louise Dawson and the invaluable contributions she makes to our community.

Jonathan learns about bluebird nesting habits

[screen prints above & right: Jonathan builds a bird house - captured from WJRT-ABC12 website]


he's building a bird house!ABC12 - WJRT TV Visits J.J. Cardinal's

TV news reporters were in Grand Blanc recently to capture a video story of Jonathan, a local 10-year old, building a bluebird nesting box with Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's. The story aired on WJRT's Monday's Child, a regular news feature which ABC12 broadcasts to help promote the local Big Brother Big Sister program.

Broadcast Date: Monday 03/31/08

More Info about Genesee County's Big Brother/Big Sister program: http://www.bbbsflint.org/

reusable cotton totes!

Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store of S. Saginaw Street, models the cotton tote the store is selling a
discounted price. By April 22, Earth Day, the store will completely phase out plastic and paper disposable bags. Just a few will be kept on hand for shoppers who don't know about the reusable bag policy.
[photo by Julia Zaher, Flint Journal]

Nature store nixing use of disposable bags

Sunday, March 02, 2008 By Julia Zaher
jzaher@grandblancnews.com • 810.766.6284

GRAND BLANC - When you buy something at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, you'll want to bring your own bag or tote. The progressive backyard and bird feed store is phasing out disposable paper and plastic bags by April 22. which is celebrated as Earth Day.

Like grocery retailer Whole Foods, J.J. Cardinal's is joining a long list of environmentally conscious retailers abandoning throw-away bags. "We, along with thousands of other merchants. will keep roughly 100 million plastic bags out of the environment between that date (April 22) and the end of 2008, alone," owners Louise and Michael Dawson wrote to customers in a recent newsletter.

Instead, the store will offer a natural 10-ounce cotton canvas tote at a discounted price of $9.95. The totes are shaped much like a traditional paper grocery sack. There will be a backup for customers who aren't aware of the change. "We'll always keep a small supply on hand for people who don't have their bag with them or didn't think they were going to go shopping," Louise Dawson said. They also have boxes available for larger items. Some bird seed will continue to come in 100 percent recycled plastic bags.

Worldwatch Institute estimates Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags each year. The group says less than one percent are recycled. The bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down in a landfill, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Dawson kept an eye on a black plastic bag stuck in a large tree near the Grand Mall across the street from her store on Saginaw Street. "At first I thought it was crows up in the trees," she said. But a closer look through binoculars showed otherwise. Dawson said she kept noticing the bag for 10 years -- the amount of time it took for it to disintegrate and blow away.

J.J. Cardinal's typically uses up to 200 bags a week, an assortment of plastic and paper. "But mostly the dreaded plastic bags," Louise Dawson said.

The store's regular customers tend to be environmentally conscious consumers. Many have brought in their own recycled bags or totes for years. Shoppers will get a 5-cent discount for each bag they reuse - the same amount it would cost to provide a disposable bag.

(10-14-11 update: item no longer stocked at JJ Cardinal's - available on special order basis only, 10+ units, minimum order.)

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story by Grand Blanc View

update-flattop.jpg (5696 bytes)
build a bluebird nesting box like those above
(photo by L. Dawson).

Cure winter blues with nature activities

By Natalie Blythe VIEW Staff Writer
Thursday, January 24, 2008

GRAND BLANC — Ever wanted to learn how to build a bat house? Itching to take a nature hike through The Commons? J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird and Nature Store in Grand Blanc has just the answers for those questions with its upcoming schedule of events and workshops designed for nature enthusiasts of all ages.

Store naturalists host two, one-hour nature hikes in February and March. Both hikes begin at 10 a.m. with the first on Feb. 2 and the second on March 1. Participants will meet in the parking lot behind McFarlen Public Library on Perry Road. Hikers will look for wintering birds, skeletons from last year’s plant life and other wildlife during the hike through The Commons Nature Preserve. Participants of all ages are invited to attend and dress for the weather. Bring field guides, binoculars and a friend. Warm refreshments will follow at J.J. Cardinal’s. Cost is $1 per person, which is donated to the preserve’s trail maintenance.

On Feb. 4, the shop hosts a bluebird house building event at 4:30 p.m. Open to ages eight and up, the event teaches participants all about bluebirds and also allows them to construct a wooden bluebird house. Cost is $24.95 for the kit. Reservations are required.

For people wanting to attract bats, J.J. Cardinal’s will teach participants how to build a bat house at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 8. The workshop will teach those ages six and up all about bats and how to attract them. Cost is $24.95 for the kit and registration is required in advance.

A workshop all about dinosaurs will be held at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 13. [A video] Hosted by Martin Sheen, the event will touch on the history of dinosaurs and participants will make a dinosaur out of Crayola’s Model Magic. Cost is $5 per child and the event is open to children ages four and up. Reservations are required.

To aid hikers on long trips, the store will host a workshop on making a rustic hiking stick at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 16. J.J. Cardinal Naturalist Bob Worley will discuss the origins of the hiking stick use and participants will be able to participate in the construction and decoration of a functional, rustic hiking stick. Cost is $10 each and open to ages eight and up. Registration is required.

For more information or to register for any event, call J.J. Cardinal’s at 810-695-8733. J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird and Nature Store is located at 12830 S. Saginaw St. Hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

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Brody looks at little hooks on bur, held by his sister
above: Brody flips binoculars around to use magnifying qualities for inspecting a "bur" up-close (photo by L. Dawson).
right: Jack Blosser, Grand Blanc News Columnist (Flint Journal photo)

Nature hike eye-opening experience for all

By Jack Blosser Grand Blanc News Columnist
Sunday, November 11, 2007

image from Grand Blanc News / Flint JournalEver had a delightful experience that was so much fun you'd love to do it again, and then got the chance? Well, it happened to me a couple weeks ago at my favorite stomping grounds, the Grand Blanc Commons. A perfect morning welcomed me as I headed for my First Saturday nature walk with admired friend, Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinals.

Arriving first, I enjoyed the quiet beauty and blue sky as I waited for my learned leader, who drove up moments later. Exchanging small talk, we were about to head out when a white SUV pulled in, and one very familiar little figure popped out. Even though it had been a year since we'd had the pleasure, we recognized the star of that show, Brody Rosol. Dad Marty, and sister Mandy, came with him.

To say that we were delighted would be an understatement. It's always more interesting and enjoyable walking the trail with a group, especially if there are young people involved. Adding to the pleasure was the return of their beautiful and well-behaved black schnauzer, Chevy. Last November, Brody, Marty and oldest sister Courtney, brightened our morning hike with good questions, sharp comments and savvy observations.

Louise always has insightful conversation as we walk along, adjusting to the grasp of the group while making a fun and educational experience. Together, we hit the trail for what was to be one of the most enjoyable and interesting strolls in some time. Brody was even more engaged and curious than last year. Everything, and I mean everything, was a question, and our guide not only rose to the occasion, she exceeded it. More energized than ever, she had a full response to every query. Louise always has a field book with her, instantly identifying the numerous bird sounds, showing a picture and demonstrating the whistle or call for her hikers. She's equally good with trees and grasses, which was especially helpful on this trek.

Barely into the short journey, our perceptive little hiker spotted the red "X" spray-painted on a number of the trees. Louise explained about the invasion of the emerald ash borer, which killed the trees, and that the scarlet letter was there to mark their pending removal. Near the bridge, Marty spotted the moon, still visible at 10:30 a.m. With binoculars, we all got to see the craters on our satellite, surprisingly clear on this beautiful morn.

I was impressed last year with how much our little 3-year old got out of the hike, but it paled beside his great curiosity about everything this day. Ever alert, Brody spotted a pair of cardinals, and then a small dead tree with seven holes neatly arranged near the top, one above the other. Louise told him it was probably the work of Downy Woodpeckers. He missed precious little else along the way. Our young pupil never ran out of steam, but Louise had to get back to her store.

The enthusiasm and alertness one small hiker showed on this experience, and the information gained tells me he's going to be a good student. I sincerely hope he and his family return; we really need another generation caring for our irreplaceable Commons.

read the Grand Blanc View - published weekly
Grand Blanc View photo

Finding common ground

By Kelly Skarritt Grand Blanc VIEW Staff Writer
Thursday, July 19, 2007

GRAND BLANC — As development continues to encroach on areas that once provided vast natural habitats, one parcel of land has been protected from the urban sprawl to become a tranquil sanctuary for all those who want a brief escape.

No, residents don’t have to drive five hours north to achieve this state of peace — only a short jaunt to the library. Don’t go inside — this is not a place where only one’s imagination can travel. At the rear of the McFarlen Library complex off Perry Road, there’s a picturesque place that people might mistake for something they’ve read about in a book. The Commons of Grand Blanc, the city’s own nature preserve, was acquired in 1981 by the City of Grand Blanc. With the help of the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and the Nature Conservancy, the city bought the 137 acres to be preserved forever in its natural state.

“So many things are over-built today,” said City Manager Randall Byrne. He says he is happy that Grand Blanc residents have this natural haven to go to when the chaos of technology begins to get out-of-hand. “I think it is going to be even more important in the future.”

Although many people enjoy the preserve’s five miles of nature paths, the park generally remains untouched, which allows the habitat to grow and flourish as it pleases. The wildness of the Commons also encourages many species to make their homes there.

Louise Dawson, generally known as Grand Blanc’s resident naturalist, makes great use of the Commons. She’s likely its most frequent visitor, which has given her a respectful sense of ownership, prompting her to give names to most of the trails that wind throughout the preserve. “Over the years, people have come to call them those names,” said Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinals Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc. Dawson said the city had considered placing permanent markers to mark each path’s name, but feared that the signs would become vandalized.

Visitors to the preserve should first stop inside the library for a copy of a map that Dawson created, complete with trail names and the different sights nature buffs will encounter along the paths.

Poison Ivy Trail  is aptly named for the three-leaf nuisance that grows along the way. Teasel Down Trail  not only highlights the plant from which it get its name, but also plays host to the creatures that find teasel down so alluring. “It’s always a highlight we look for — it (teasel down) attracts all sorts of interesting insects.”

Thread Creek  runs through the preserve, and some years ago a bridge was built to span the creek and separate the Commons’ two halves. Wooden benches also were built, but have fallen into disrepair over the years. The Dept. of Public Works performs light maintenance at the Commons, but for the most part the preserve is left to flourish as it pleases. “You don’t want to disturb anything; you don’t want to pick anything,” said Dawson, who reminds visitors to take only pictures and leave only footprints. For more information about J.J. Cardinals and its Commons-oriented activities, call Dawson at 810-695-8733. J.J. Cardinal’s staffers regularly host trail walks through the Commons.


Package says "g'bye" to Stephanie.

Stephanie B., 14, an eighth-grader at Grand Blanc West Middle School, smiles as a fledgling house sparrow she helped nurse back to health flies atop her head. A short time later, the bird named Package took flight for good.
[photo by Louise Dawson; caption by GB News]



Goatsbeard flower

Goatsbeard flower
[photo by Louise Dawson]

Nature walk made more memorable by natural flight

Sunday, June 10, 2007
By Jack Blosser, Community Columnist

Beauty is nature's coin,
must not be hoarded,
But must be current,
and the good thereof Consists in mutual and partaken bliss.

- John Milton

GRAND BLANC - Is it just me, or has 2007 been one of the most contradictory years for weather on record? Wasn't much of a winter (I loved it!), but spring has been playing hide-and-seek ever since March, and summer charged in at the last moment, about three weeks early.

Hey, no complaints; a winter fan I'm definitely not, but last Saturday was a midsummer morn's dream (I think I owe someone an apology for theft and mutilation of a line!). I met J.J. Cardinal's Louise Dawson for her customary first Saturday Grand Blanc Commons nature hike.

Granted, it was hot, even at our 10 a.m. start, and maybe that's why there were only the two of us. Too bad - few will ever top this one!

The initial stop is always the meadow at the trail head, and Louise picks up on birdcalls too high-pitched for my ears. Just before I arrived, she'd spotted a bluebird, but I wasn't fortunate enough to add it to my list.

Just sauntering, we took the long route to the bridge, enjoying a stand of beautiful yellow Goatsbeard flowers along the trail. In the distance, a red-bellied woodpecker's distinctive "kwirr" welcomed us to his (or her) domain.

Not to be outdone, a little downy woodpecker chimed in with a rapid shinny of notes. Louise kept her Peterson Field Guide open so I could add picture to voice, always a big help to a novice. Just then, a remarkable happenstance turned a delightful morning into something most memorable. A lady and her two daughters appeared on the trail, one of the girls carrying a small wooden box topped by a piece of wide mesh screen. "Flight time?" asked a smiling Louise, who obviously knew their story. "Yes!" responded the young lady holding the container.

Louise suggested I go take a peek, and the picture became very clear. The relaxed inhabitant was a fledgling house sparrow that had been rescued by the grandmother after falling from the nest at a mall in Birch Run. Nursed to its present state of robust health, Package, so named because of his travel mode, was now ready to fulfill his destiny. The only remaining barrier was lifted, and the little gathering waited expectantly for liftoff.

Not surprisingly, our tiny feathered friend was in no particular hurry to abandon his comfortable life with a warm abode and all the worms he could eat. Finally, with just a little coaxing, off he flew - straight to the top of his host's head, seemingly quite content to stay. Persuaded to mount a finger, and jump-started once more, back he flitted to the same spot.

Shortly, however, the little fellow did fly to a nearby tree, soon testing his wings by heading to a higher perch. Last seen, he was setting a new speed record with a strong flight toward more distant horizons. The balance of the morning may not have measured up to witnessing this coming of age, but it certainly wasn't anticlimactic.

Gwen, a J.J. Cardinal's customer, had joined us just before the "launch," bringing her additional experience and familiarity to our hike. Other than our freedom trio, we met only a young man walking his bulldog on the trail.

The day was fabulous, and with Louise's knowledge of flora and fauna, I found myself immersed in the lush beauty of the Commons. The magic of the surroundings created an unforgettable memory.

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safflower in Droll Yankees model PK feeder
hoto by L. Dawson, J.J. Cardinal's feeder: Droll Yankees model #PK (sadly this item was discontinued by the manufacturer),

New seed touted as better for birds

Sunday, May 20, 2007
By Julia Zaher

GRAND BLANC - Bird watchers may be amused to know that bird seed is subjected to side-by-side taste comparisons in much the same way humans are asked to do blind comparisons of Pepsi or Coke.

Recent tests show that birds prefer a newly developed organic seed called NutraSaff 2-to-1 over traditional safflower seed, according to the seed's producer, Safflower Technologies International of Sidney, Mont.

Mike Dawson, seed specialist at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw Road, has been impressed with the new seed, which has been on the market for only two years. So he did his own test at home. Setting up two identical areas - one with regular safflower seeds, which are bright white and have a shell that birds leave behind, the other with NutraSaff - Dawson tracked feeding patterns.

NutraSaff has a very thin outer hull and a higher oil, protein and fat content than traditional safflower seed. The manufacturer said it's easier for birds to eat and digest. Like people, birds are creatures of habit. Dawson said that initially, the birds ate the traditional seed. But after a couple of days, they were ignoring the old seed and eating NutraSaff twice as fast. "It's beak-smacking good," Dawson said.

As an added bonus, squirrels don't like the new seed, and larger birds such as grackles and starlings, which some consider a nuisance, also don't care for it. Like gas prices, the price of bird seed can rise and fall significantly. NutraSaff sells at J.J. Cardinals for $7.40 for a 10-pound bag. "A store in Grand Rapids gets three times that (price)," Dawson said. He said the store makes every effort to keep its birdseed prices constant. But as food manufacturers look for alternatives to reduce trans fats, a new safflower oil could quickly be in high demand, and humans could be taste-testing NutraSaff as well. ***

Note: the Grand Blanc News was a weekly publication of the Flint Journal - no longer in print.

as reported in the Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News... Springtime Storytime

reading book titled: 'We Are Bears'

photo by Flint Journal, Grand Blanc News -- Sunday April 22, 2007

Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc, reads a book about bears to Dominique and her sister Gabrielle.
The story preceded a craft project and was part of a week-long nature celebration to benefit the Howell Nature Center.

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Nature hikers
Nature Hike participants
[photo by Louise Dawson]

Little guy makes big impact during nature walk through Commons
Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News Sunday, November 12, 2006
By Jack Blosser
, Community Columnist

"A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; How could I answer the child? ... I do not know what it is any more than he." - Walt Whitman

This isn't the column I intended to write, but that was before I met a very special little gentleman named Brody. I know that because when the introductions were made, he stepped right up and stated, "My name is Brody, and I'm 3 years old!"

It was the first Saturday of the month, that special day when I'm excused from chores and get to take an educational and entertaining one-hour walk in our magnificent Grand Blanc Commons behind McFarlen Library. I didn't know just how memorable this day was going to be.

Obviously well prepared for an adventure, Brody was properly attired for our crisp fall stroll. He very thoughtfully had brought along his dad, older sister and a beautiful black giant schnauzer. A few words of instruction from our peerless leader, Louise Dawson of J.J. Cardinal's, and we were off to explore the wonders of nature.

Now, I have a good time on every one of those sorties, be it spring, summer, winter or fall, though some seasons are better than others. We're often joined by younger hikers from children's groups, some of whom quickly lose interest in flora and fauna, and start running hither and yon, totally ignoring the admonition to walk and remain on the footpath.

Not Brody, however. Our little trekker stayed the course like a pro, with questions and comments that surprised the adults. Dad had to be awfully proud - not just of his youngest but also of his daughter, who earned extra credit for a school project on the outing.

Hiking buddy Cliff and I brought up the rear, stopping to pick up flotsam and jetsam dropped along the trail by some of the less concerned. The muttering those hikers might hear is just an ancient curse we call down upon their carelessness.

There's a stark beauty to the area as winter slowly tightens its chilly grip on the landscape. For example, you can now see from one trail to the next since the leaves have released their hold on the branches. It lends a whole new perspective to the walk - Mother Nature has dropped her green curtain, and many a previously hidden nest is visible among the bare branches.

Toppled trees dot the now-exposed inner sanctum, giving rise to the age-old question, "Do falling trees make a sound if there's no one around to hear?" Brody didn't have an answer, but he had lots of queries of his own, most beginning with "Why?"

The little guy was an absolute delight, and his presence and curiosity impressed Louise. He found a lonely caterpillar, joyfully showing everyone as it explored his mitten, before being gently returned to a weed. It was such fun rolling back the years to child-raising days, hearing again the sound of small voices, eager to learn.

Most assuredly, we've got a real treasure in our magnificent preserve. I always enjoy the opportunity to visit the ever-changing landscape, but never as much as seeing it through the eyes of a little one.

Thanks for coming, Brody. Here's to the next time!

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story by Grand Blanc View.

Pounding Flowers
photo by Theresa Kelly, Grand Blanc View -- Thursday July 6, 2006
J.J. Cardinal's had several people turn out for a craft activity last week. Attendees made shirts using designs from flower petals and leafs. To transfer these designs they used a process affectionately referred to as: "pounding flowers" - the plants are carefully arranged on plain white t-shirts, covered with a board, and pounded with a hammer.

pounding flowers!

photo by Cindy Bruett - GB View (published 01.19.06)


photo by Cindy Bruett, Grand Blanc View -- Thursday January 19, 2006.

Participants for the monthly bird walk and nature hike sponsored by Louise Dawson and J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store of Grand Blanc gather at the Commons in Grand Blanc.


.story by Grand Blanc View

Store gives glimpse at local natural world
by Cindy Bruett, Grand Blanc View -- Thursday January 12, 2006

Avis Bowen, J.J. Cardinal staff naturalist

Avis Bowen helps Bridget and Brendan S.
create a turtle craft at J.J. Cardinal's.
[photo and story by Cindy Bruett, GB View 11/26/05]

Grand Blanc - For the past 15 years, Grand Blanc residents have had the opportunity to enjoy the local flora and fauna and discover new information about the natural environment.

On the first Saturday of each month at 10 a.m., Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's, leads nature enthusiasts through the Grand Blanc Commons located behind the McFarlen Library in search of new discoveries and learning adventures.

One of the benefits of the nature hike is "to slow down just long enough to feel a connectedness with one's neighbors, with the earth, with the sounds of nature and the smells of life," Dawson said.

The hikers learn about various seasonal observations, including Michigan's state birds, animal tracks, bird songs, plants, various vegetation and bats. In addition, Dawson may discuss shrub insect damage and the history of the Commons Nature Preserve. Each hike weekend unveils different discoveries based on the day's observations.

Dawson suggests bringing binoculars to closely observe birds, nests and other findings. Participants may wish to bring a notepad, water and a friend. The one-hour guided hikes are free, but voluntary contributions are accepted and go toward the maintenance of the Commons.

"After the walk (this Saturday) everyone came back to the store for hot cocoa and a cookie. We pulled books off the shelf and looked up plants we saw that we didn't know the name of," said Dawson.  J.J. Cardinals also hosts several children's workshops. Upcoming events include Dinosaur Days, Activity Hour, Beetles and Bugs and Birdseed Mosaics. Call 810-695-8733 for reservations and fees.

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.talking-turkey: a Flint Journal photo story

a photo story from Flint Journal's
Grand Blanc News Community section 11/26/05;
photos by Flint Journal photographer Bruce Edwards

headline: talking turkey!

Debbie M. of Grand Blanc works with granddaughter Katie W. of Flushing on a Thanksgiving turkey centerpiece they made at a program at JJ Cardinal's in Grand Blanc.

talking-turkey: a Flint Journal photo story

a weekly newspaper serving Grand Blanc, Goodrich & Atlas Twp. Giving Tree Benefits the Humane Society
Grand Blanc View -- Thursday October 20, 2005
GB View photo


Grand Blanc - JJ Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store is again hosting its holiday "Giving Trees" event to benefit the Humane Society of Genesee County.

On Oct. 1, JJ Cardinal's began decorating two trees with Christmas ornaments and other various items for sale, with 20% of the proceeds from the sale going to the Humane Society.

The store offers, among other items, science, nature, discovery and gardening supplies and gifts and is located at 12830 Saginaw Street. Call 810-695-8733.

To donate to the Humane Society of Genesee County, drop off or mail checks to the Humane Society at P.O. Box 190138, G-3325 S. Dort Hwy., Burton, MI 48519.   ###

Giving tree decorators: Avis, Andrea and Louise
GBView Photo by Jim Newell

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Longway Planetarium - a fun place to hang out
[Longway poster © Longway Planetarium]

Memories of moon gazing will eclipse gloom of winter
Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News Sunday, September 18, 2005

By Jack Blosser, Community Columnist

"The stars about the lovely moon hide their shining forms when it lights up the earth at its fullest."
- Sappho

I went to a star party the other evening.

The guests of honor were out in force, but I recognized very few. Clint Eastwood was nowhere to be seen, and Tom Hanks was another absentee, but the promised headliner did offer a glowing reception to each new arrival.

McFarlen Library's parking lot already had a pretty fair number of visitors when the Lovely Alice Mary and I pulled in just after 8 o'clock a couple of Saturday nights ago. Moon viewing through powerful telescopes was the advertised lure, with the added hint of a possible peek later on at mysterious Mars should the weather cooperate.

It didn't. The storied Red Planet will have to wait another month or two for more favorable conditions, but Lady Luna posed quite brightly for an enthusiastic crowd of admirers, craters and all.

Richard Walker, Longway Planetarium director, brought along the biggest and most powerful portable telescope I've ever seen, and our host, Louise Dawson of J.J. Cardinals, had a mighty-mite bird-watching scope that wasn't all that far behind for one so small in comparison.

It was a truly delightful and educational adventure. People came and went during the peak of the evening, some 80 enthusiastic sky watchers in all, most of them school-age. Richard maintained an enlightening patter, pointing out constellations, stars and galaxies, along with mind-boggling facts about celestial ages, times and distances.

I'm reminded once again how fortunate we are to have a magnificent facility such as Longway just 10 miles away. An incredible computer-driven Digistar 2 has replaced the original Spitz Model B planetarium, state-of-the-art half a century ago. The unique shows are more than worth the short drive!

Most visitors brought lawn chairs, and Louise furnished refreshments for the stargazers. Everyone, including the little folk, was polite and respectful of the delicate (and expensive!) equipment providing the drama.

The evening was a Michigan masterpiece. Shirtsleeves worked for some, others found light jackets or sweaters more in order. Unfortunately, conditions for sky watching were a little less than perfect, but so great was the interest many were still looking and learning until after 10 p.m.

A number of stimulating activities are happening all around the area, several of them outdoors. Following our soggy spring, it seems we've been blessed with an extended summer that might be one for the record books.

The first Saturday in September was during the Labor Day weekend, so it wasn't surprising that only one other regular, Pam Atwell, showed up for Louise's monthly Grand Blanc Commons hike. I didn't get to see the Monarch butterfly migration that often blankets its flourishing meadows there as I'd hoped, but I did observe bees loading up on pollen from the vibrant wildflowers. The memory of that beautiful morning will help sustain me until spring.

These are golden days, an absolute bonus, and even for snow enthusiasts, it can't get any better than an autumn's splendor. You all know how I regard Old Man Winter, so my heartfelt suggestion is to get outside and soak up the best that Michigan has to offer while it lasts.                         ###

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photos by Flint Journal photographer Keith King headline: "eyes on the sky"
photos by Flint Journal photographer Keith King photos by Flint Journal photographer Keith King
a photo story from Flint Journal's Grand Blanc News Community section 09/11/05;
photos by Flint Journal photographer Keith King
top left: Louise Dawson (left) of Grand Blanc and Pam Atwell of Flint Township search the sky for a cedar waxwing bird at the Grand Blanc Commons nature preserve. Dawson coordinates a nature hike on the first Saturday of each month for people to identify and enjoy plants, birds and other facets of nature.
above left: A bee gathers pollen on a goldenrod plant at the nature preserve.
above right: Atwell searches for birds with her binoculars at the nature preserve.
Commons & surrounding area - see TerraServer.com

web-link to the above aerial image
by TerraServer.com
no longer functional.

Nothing is quite as refreshing as a morning walk in the woods

Flint Journal column - The Grand Blanc News Sunday, July 17, 2005
By Jack Blosser, Community Columnist

"Happily may I walk. May it be beautiful before me, May it be beautiful behind me, May it be beautiful below me, May it be beautiful above me, May it be beautiful all around me. In beauty it is finished." - Navaho Night Chant

The first Saturday of July was one of those incredibly picturesque mornings. A walk in the woods was my initial thought, immediately followed by the realization that Louise Dawson normally led a group for an hour on the Grand Blanc Commons trail that day every month. Would she be doing it this holiday weekend? A quick call to J.J. Cardinal's verified my hope, and a glance at the clock suggested I double-hustle.

John, a gentleman somewhat near my generation, and his delightful grandson, Conner, 7, were waiting at the trailhead when I arrived. Shortly after, Louise pulled up, followed directly by regulars Pam and Cliff. An application of bug spray and we were off, six seekers of elusive flora, fauna and fowl. The meadow at the edge of this priceless area is still pristine, allowed to flourish at nature's whim. Benches have been provided just off the path to facilitate observation. With binoculars, a good ear and a sharp eye, there are nearly always things to see and hear. Of course, a well-timed prompt from a trained guide or an experienced outdoorsman helps us rookies immensely.

Pam's good company; she's a studier and carries on an educated discourse with Louise. Cliff is no slouch, either, with a keen instinct for nature, but I get my jollies from his quick and sometimes slightly irreverent wit. John was armed with a bird field guide, and young Conner was remarkably interested and connected for one of such tender years. Once again, I brought up the rear, but I still had a fun time.

Entering the forest, I was struck by the lush fullness of the foliage. It's like a green jungle - the tops of the trees appeared to have grown together, forming a verdant canopy.

file photo: bird walk May '03Following the law of the trail - "anything hanging over the path can be picked" - our peerless leader held out a piece of Indian Bed Straw for Conner so he could discover something unique about the plant: a square stem. She then carefully folded the foliage to show us how it earned its name: a primitive, but effective mattress cover stuffing. Its crackling brought back old memories - I briefly worked for a Port Huron farmer and heard that sound every time I moved in bed.

Our trek took us along a ridge, then back beside the creek toward the bridge. Conner spotted what he thought were butterflies. He learned that if the wings are flat out each side at rest, the insect is a dragonfly, and if they are held upward together, it's a damselfly.

Standing on the bridge, it was clear that the famed Press on Regardless canoe race was held at the right time. The big rock just south of the span now sits in about an inch of water, and fallen trees once again block the creek. Today, the contest would be less about skill and more about strength. Our guide had taken all the time she could from a busy enterprise and had to return to the store. She collects a dollar from each hiker for the upkeep of the Commons. This magnificent haven is certainly one that must be preserved for future generations.

I appreciate the time, effort and knowledge Louise Dawson gives to the community, but a couple of times a year, we need many more hands to really maintain our local treasure.
© 2005 Flint Journal

Flint Journal photo by Emily Dudderar Commons' use most uncommon

THE FLINT JOURNAL  • Monday, June 13, 2005
By Bob Wheaton

GRAND BLANC - Lynn Garner is glad she lives next to the Grand Blanc Commons so her children can check out the wildlife on its nature trails.

"The Commons are pretty much straight out our back yard, so the kids kind of go back and explore the area," she said. "We have a raccoon that lives in a tree behind our house and a possum that comes out frequently."

commons-map-061305.jpg (9767 bytes)Many people aren't so familiar with the nature trail. "Out of five visits, I might run into somebody once," said Louise Dawson, who leads guided tours of the Commons. "It's pretty low-use, but it's safe. I don't think people know about it, frankly."

Access to the nature trail is at an out-of-the-way location - the back of the McFarlen Library parking lot, 515 Perry Road. "I think a lot of people don't know where the access might be," Garner said. "Around in this neighborhood, certainly everyone knows about it."

Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store in Grand Blanc, said people who walk the trail can spot all the typical backyard birds and 18 varieties of warblers. If you're lucky, you might see deer, foxes, raccoons, muskrats, beavers or wild turkeys. A bridge crosses Thread Creek.

The 137-acre Grand Blanc Commons is owned by the city of Grand Blanc. It's not as well-known as two other community parks - Creasey Bicentennial Park in Grand Blanc Township, where people flock to play softball and baseball, and Physicians Park in Grand Blanc, the site of summer concerts and many picnics.

"The majority of the use is people taking their dogs for a walk," said Kae Eidson, director of Grand Blanc Parks and Recreation. "They do some birdwatching there. When you don't have a lot of scheduled activities at a place, I think sometimes people tend to forget that it's there."

In 1978, the city asked the nonprofit Nature Conservancy to buy the land that would become the Commons from owner Elizabeth McFarlen, Eidson said.

Two year later, the city used grant funds to buy the park, she said. J.J. Cardinal's conducts guided tours of the trails at 10 a.m. on the first Saturday of every month. People who go there "definitely want to bring bug spray," Dawson said.

© 2005 Flint Journal

photo by Emily Dudderar - caption by Flint Journal:
Keith R. of Grand Blanc and his dog, Luther, take their daily walk Saturday along the Grand Blanc Commons nature trail behind McFarlen Library.

Little-known gem
About the Grand Blanc Commons:

LOCATION: Off Perry Road behind the McFarlen Library in Grand Blanc.

WHAT IT IS: 137 acres of nature trails padded with wood chips. There are picnic tables near the start of the trails.

OWNER: City of Grand Blanc.

MAPS AVAILABLE: www.jjcardinal.com/commons.htm

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.glass hummer feeder image by Flint Journal

above: this glass feeder has three bright, glass, hibiscus blooms that are inserted into nectar in the body of the feeder.
top right: Three glass vials hang in an ergonomically correct position for the angle of hummingbirds' beaks. A bottle brush can be used to clean them.

042405 flint journal hummer story graphics

THE FLINT JOURNAL Sunday, April 24, 2005
By Helen S. Bas

Hummingbird feeder by Holland HillOne of the more cheerful summertime sights has to be a hummingbird, tiny wings beating as the it takes a sip from a flower or, better yet, from a feeder that's visible from a window or deck. According to www.hummingbirds.net, the first ruby-throated hummingbirds, the only ones normally seen in Michigan, arrived April 16.  So how do you get them to your yard?

"Put a red ribbon on the feeder," said Daniel Cruz, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Store in Flint Township. "They love the waving red and they'll come around faster." Cruz likes feeders that have perches, so the birds will sit and rest a bit, offering a closer look in the bargain.

Louise Dawson, owner of JJ Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store in Grand Blanc, said the birds are attracted to a device that continuously sprays a very fine mist of water that the birds can bathe in. hummer feeder"It's so fine, it looks like smoke," she said. "It hooks up to an outdoor faucet and uses less than a gallon a day - that's how fine the mist is.

"The hummingbirds just love to fly in the mist - it's like a fine summer rain. They get their wings wet, then preen and get clean." If arranged over a bird bath, Dawson said the mister will create light reflection on the water surface that will attract birds too. Besides feeders, ribbons and misters, flowers in red and other bright colors attract hummingbirds. Some of Cruz's favorites are impatiens, fuchsia and petunias.

Flowers that are tubular in shape work well, Dawson said. Red and other bright colors attract the birds. She is partial to trumpet creeper. "I think that's their number one favorite," she said. Other flowers that Dawson recommends include cardinal flower, phlox, coral bells, summersweet, lantana and bee balm (bergamot).  Dawson said she learned from a botanist that attraction to red is a learned response, not an instinct for hummingbirds. "The reason is that red flowers tend to have the biggest nectar pots, so the birds learn to go there," she said. "So they learn that red is what they want, and other bright colors just follow."

Where should dinner be served?
Placing feeders requires a bit of thought. If there are more than one, don't locate them within sight of each other. Hummingbirds are territorial, Cruz said, and often won't come at all if they see others at a nearby feeder. If the feeder is close to or attached to a window, placing decals or sun catchers on the glass is a good idea so the birds don't fly into it.

What's on the menu?
Cruz suggested filling feeders only about a quarter full at first, until the birds have found it. Then it's OK to fill it to the top. Commercially made nectars can be purchased, or bird lovers can make their own. "Take a cup of sugar, four cups of water and boil it until the sugar dissolves," Cruz said. "It's not necessary to color the water, because if the feeder is red or there are red ribbons on it, they'll find it." Purchased nectar generally does not need to be boiled; follow the package directions, though.

Unwanted guests
Feeders come in many shapes and sizes, some with contraptions that keep out ants, bees and wasps. "Ants are a problem, because of the sugary mixture," said Dawson. "A water reservoir built into some feeders keeps them out, because ants can't swim. If a feeder doesn't have one built in, an "ant moat" can be purchased." As for bees and wasps, some feeders have a mechanism that the insects can't penetrate, but that hummingbirds easily can poke their beaks through.

Clean up is important
When using feeders, be sure to keep the nectar solution clean. The feeder should be washed with hot water every five days or so, or when the solution looks cloudy, which means bacteria are growing. And it's best not to keep it in direct afternoon sunlight. "If it gets 'sludgy' inside, you can put some raw rice in with hot water and shake it around," Dawson said. "That keeps it nice and shiny clean."

Buffet is set, but no one eats
Dawson cautioned that people who live in new subdivisions probably will not see hummingbirds at home, unless they've done extensive landscaping. "If you don't have mature trees or shrubs, you're probably not going to see them. I tell people not to waste their money buying feeders if they don't have the vegetation that hummingbirds like."

Where'd they go?
A lull around mid-June to mid-July signifies that eggs are incubating. The mother hatches one brood a season, usually two babies. When they're able, she'll bring them to the feeder. "The eggs are the size of a Tic-Tac, and the babies even tinier," Dawson said. "It's special when the mother brings the babies to the feeder where we can see them."

Finding the birds in their natural habitat, other than at flowers, is difficult at best, Cruz said, so it's best to stick to feeders and flowers. "It's very rare to see a nest," he said. "They're tiny and usually are in tree branches that hang away from the tree." Spider webbing is used along with other natural fibers. The webbing gives the nest elasticity, so it can contract around eggs to keep them warm when mom is off the nest.

Don't stop feeding too early
The tiny birds will stick around until fall, and it's important not to stop feeding too soon. In preparation for the rigors of migration, they gain 50 percent more body weight and need the extra food.

"Their migration is triggered by length of daylight," Dawson said. "Some people are afraid that continuing to feed will keep them from going, but that's not the case. The light drives their desire to leave."
© 2005 Flint Journal

below: a feeder attached to a window provides a close view of dining hummingbirds.
lower right: Star-shaped openings under the rosette designs on this plastic feeder help prevent bees from drinking. A well around the hanger holds water to foil ants.

(All feeders on this page, and others, are available at J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc.)

window mount feeder from Droll Yankees

captions from Flint Journal;
photos by Flint Journal staff photographer Jane Hale

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Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce

Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce Business Index newsletter - March 2005

Chairman's Award Dinner Thursday, March 10, Warwick Hills Country Club
This year's Chairman's Award Dinner will be highlighting 25 people who have given much of their time, effort, and heart to be an advocate for many in the Grand Blanc and surrounding areas. The Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce salutes these nominees:

° Citizen of the Year Hugh Clark, Richard Grovom, Susan Jacobs-Carey, Dr. Beverly Jones, Tom Pettit, Patty Rockafellow, Roxanne Usewick
° Athena Veronica Artis, Kristen Forsyth, Susan Jacobs-Carey, Bobbi Jo Lucas, Vickie Michelson, Patty, Rockafellow
° Children's Hero Award Hugh Clark Kristen Forsyth, Larry Manderville, Julie Menassaka, Patricia Metcalf, Michael Newcomb, Mike Scannel
° Educator of the Year Maralyn Bandurski, Dr. Beverly Jones, Julie Menassaka
° Health Professional Hero Dr. Jack Price, Dr. David Miller, Dr. Ann Walker
° Hometown Hero Al Serra Auto Plaza, Grand Blanc Parks and Recreation, J. J. Cardinal's, RE/MAX Grande, UAW Local 1292

This event would not be possible without the help of our sponsors who share with us the excitement and appreciation of the unselfish efforts of the people we will be honoring March 10. With that, the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce wishes to thank the following sponsors: Al Serra Auto Plaza, Dukes Communications, Blessings Plumbing and Heating, Mott Community College, University of Michigan-Flint, Bank One, SAM'S Club, HealthPlus of Michigan, Woodfield Golf & Country Club, Kettering University, and Remax Grande.

For more info contact the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce.

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as reported in the Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News...

Learning about nature
story-hr-020605.jpg (32548 bytes)

Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News
Sunday February 6, 2005
photo story by Steve Jessmore

[above] Amber, 5, of Flint cuts out the wooly bear she created while taking part in the learning craft activity at J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc. Amber came to the event, overseen by Kelly Nelson of J.J. Cardinal's, with her grandmother Mary VanDyne of Grand Blanc.

Louise & Avis visit the Bovano exhibit in Atlanta


Home Accents Today magazine (photo story)
Sunday January 16, 2005
Bovano of Cheshire
Louise Dawson, left, and Avis Bowen, both of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, Grand Blanc Mich., with James Flood of Bovano.

[photo and text by Home Accents Today; Louise and Avis were in Atlanta for an annual nature and gift tradeshow, business-expo and seminars. Bovano of Cheshire creates exquisite enameled art, which continues to be enormously popular at J.J.'s]

To reduce the size of this file, we've archived our early press clippings:
really crusty stuff
middle-aged stuff

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[bold type inserted by web page designer to highlight JJCardinal-In-The-News]

J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI  48439  810-695-8733
updated 12/02/16 illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 1992-2016
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