J.J.Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store
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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.
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Flint Journal J.J. Cardinal's shop plans several fall activities

Sunday, October 10, 2004
By Bob Wheaton, Flint Journal Staff Writer

J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature store, 12830 S. Saginaw Road, has a variety of fall activities for children coming up. Upcoming activities include:

  • Every Wednesday, 1 p.m., Story Hour with Autumn. Those in attendance will listen to a story then participate in a learning activity. For children age 3 and up, $2.50 fee; registration required.
  • Bird-n-Tree Mobile, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. J.J. Cardinal naturalist Louise Dawson will lead children as they cut out various birds and learn about different bird shapes while they assemble a fanciful mobile they will color and decorate. The event is for children age 4 and up. Cost is $5 per person; reservation required.
  • Paint a Fall Garden Flag, 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21. J.J. Cardinal naturalist Avis Bowen will lead participants as they decorate a canvas garden flag with leaves, twigs, and paint. For children age four through adult, $8.95 fee includes all materials to complete project. Registration required.

Information and registration: (810) 695-8733. ***

Bob Wheaton, bwheaton@flintjournal.com • 810.766.6375 GRAND BLANC

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as reported in the Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News...
Jack Blosser - hard at work

Alex Hill, faithful volunteer & hard-working guy.

Nature Trail Clean-Up Project participants - top: Jack Blosser tackles tree limps; below: Alex Hill, community volunteer and future statesman. [photo by L. Dawson]
It's tough to admit, but this work was actually fun

Sunday, August 15, 2004

"Holy Mother Earth, the trees and all nature are witnesses of your thoughts and deeds." - Winnebago saying

My dictionary defines "work" as "the application of mental or physical effort to a purpose; the use of energy."?y definition of the word is a lot shorter: something to be avoided at all costs. Pulling up near the entrance of the Grand Blanc Commons Nature Preserve, I began to question my mental acuity. After the frosty fun The Lovely Alice Mary and I had on our February hike with Louise Dawson, J.J. Cardinal's owner and naturalist, I vowed to do it again when the weather got better, but this was ridiculous. The notice clearly said it was an outing to clear brush, fallen limbs and litter from the trails - I guess I should have read it all.

I was about to execute my escape when Louise arrived, followed by Cliff Worstenholm. I figured my mythical war wounds would start hurting any second, and I'd regretfully have to leave, but then Eagle Scout Alex Hill bicycled up.

Trapped! How could a member of the local Scouting executive board excuse himself from a civic duty project in front of a young man who spearheaded a drive that enabled him to deliver a new ambulance and medical supplies to a priest in Africa? With no way out, I put on my bravest face and suffered through the indignities of manual labor.

Louise gave us our marching orders, then led the way, demonstrating by example. The task was simple enough - pick up any litter left by those few who apparently had no respect for the hiker's maxim, "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints," plus remove any brush, branches or fallen limbs impeding the path.

Cliff brought along a big pair of loppers, I had pruning clippers, and Louise equipped Alex with a set of the same. I also carried my secret weapon, an amazing small, lightweight Japanese multipurpose folding saw that seems to have no limitations.

We had plastic bags, but there was almost a complete absence of refuse along the trail. However, Cliff, who has a ready wit, did find a wrapper for a male birth control product that none of us knew birds and animals used. You learn something new every day.

Though this was a working hike, it was a learning experience, too, with Louise along. She has a great eye and a sharp ear backed up by knowledge, self-training and years of practice. There's always an anecdote, an interesting sidelight or a humorous story to spice a sighting of an insect, bird, plant or creature.

One was her tale of the first year of the clean-up hike. Not knowing what to expect, but eager to help, City Manager Randy Byrne provided a Dumpster and a gross of plastic bags!

Actually, I had so much fun that I had difficulty maintaining my pained facade. Joyously cutting away at a big branch with my trusty saw, I didn't hear Cliff's friendly jest, "Jack, we'll pick you up on the way back."

Even though Louise gave us nearly twice the allotted hour from her busy retail schedule, we barely made a dent in nature's unrelenting quest to reclaim the trails for her own inhabitants. More hands would help on the next grooming session.

Louise's J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store is one of our area's real jewels. As well as guiding hikes, the store offers many nature-related classes for all ages. In the 13 years since she opened her own enterprise, abandoning a successful career at J.C. Penney, it has outgrown one location and is bulging at the seams of the second.

Those businesses that give back to the community deserve our support.

Watch the "Community Calendar" in The Grand Blanc News for events and opportunities, and perhaps you could join next month's first Saturday gathering. Jack Blosser is a freelance writer and a Grand Blanc resident. Respond to his columns at (810) 766-6323 or jablos@worldnet.att.net. © 2004 Flint Journal

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mosaic birdhouse photo by Flint Journal For the birds - Apr. 11 '04 news photo story


a photo story -  Sunday, April 11, 2004
[photo left] Avis Bowen (top right) a naturalist at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, helps Taylor S.; mom Kim S.; and sister Lauren S., build mosaic birdhouses during a birdhouse-building workshop at the Grand Blanc shop.

[photos by Flint Journal staff photographer Eric Holladay]

mosaic birdhouse kit looking good

[above] Lauren puts the finishing touches on her mosaic birdhouse.

[above] Taylor shows off her newly completed mosaic birdhouse.
note: participants' last names intentionally omitted by J.J. Cardinal's web designer for security and safety of our guests.
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Birdwalk participants 02/07/04
hearty participants of our February '04 bird walk & nature hike [photo by L. Dawson]

A wintry visit with nature generates its own heat

Sunday, February 22, 2004 by Jack Blosser Community Columnist

"All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair --
The bees are stirring --
birds are on the wing --
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Grand Blanc - Buckle your seat belt, lest you fall out of your chair: I went for a hike. Outside. In the snow! And, yes, this from the Major Winter Hater of all time.

What's more, I had a great time. Seriously, on the first Saturday of the month, J. J. Cardinal's sponsors a bird walk and nature hike at 10 a.m. at the Grand Blanc Commons Nature Preserve. It's as simple as showing up at the entrance in the parking lot behind McFarlen Library, dressed for the weather. There's a $1 fee per person, all of which goes to benefit the nature preserve.

Now, I've walked those trails dozens of times in the spring, summer, fall and, yes, even once before in winter (it's amazing what you'll do for a grandchild).

I saw, heard and learned more in this one hike than in all the others put together, and that's a fact, not just an expression. I saw an item in the Community Calendar noting this walk, then cleared it with my scheduler (otherwise known as The Lovely Alice Mary). Saturday dawned bright and clear, and the temperature at push-off was about 18 degrees. We both wore our warmies, ready for anything short of a blizzard.

Another couple, similarly dressed, was waiting when we pulled up, so we knew we wouldn't be alone. A young mother with two bundled junior-size adventurers arrived just before the appointed hour.

Precisely at 10, our guide, Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's, pulled up. The eager group of intrepid winter walkers gathered 'round for a short briefing, and we were off. Louise gave us a colorful map, drawn and illustrated by her, that put the whole area in perspective; the flip side was a minicourse on observing birds and wildlife.

Bluebird Trail begins just beyond the entry point, and so did my long overdue nature education. There are benches to the left of the path, and our guide directed our attention to two Eastern Bluebird boxes further out in the white-blanketed meadow. In season, it's a great spot to sit and watch the activity around the boxes.

Some trees stood close by, and Louise asked her followers to name Michigan's state tree. Do you know? If you said the white pine without looking it up, score 10 points for your side. Our easy pace took us down Thrush Way, looping around to River Side as we approached the bridge over Thread Creek.

We stopped often, looking and learning under expert tutelage. As we kept our voices down and stood quietly, the birds came closer and lingered longer. I was chagrined to learn that all those red-headed woodpeckers I've seen over the years were probably red-bellied woodpeckers. Their "cousin," the downy woodpecker, puts a king-size hole in a tree. A bare dead tree just over the bridge has several round openings that look as if they'd been drilled with a 1½ inch bit - amazing, considering the bird is such a small member of the family.

We headed back after an hour, with an invitation for hot cocoa at J. J. Cardinal's. It was an eye-opening experience, which I enthusiastically recommend to everyone. I have a renewed, deeper appreciation for another of our area's "hidden" treasures, and I'll never hike it again in the same way as before. My respect for nature took a quantum leap, thanks to Louise Dawson and her expertise. OK, so winter isn't all bad, but I'm still going to enjoy the spring hikes more.

[Jack Blosser is a freelance writer and a Grand Blanc resident. Respond to his columns at (810) 766-6323 or jablos@worldnet.att.net]
© 2004 Flint Journal

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Flint Journal story
December 07, 2003 photo story
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Flint Journal photo - Louise, cleaning orchard mason bee cocoons
Louise Dawson carefully checks bee cocoons, discarding dead or parasite-infested ones
Flint Journal photo - orchard mason bee nesting blocksFlint Journal photo - orchard mason bee cocoons     
Louise uses a dissecting tool to help place cocoons in paper liners (above left). Bee blocks, which hold tubes of bees, should be attached to a south- or southwest-facing wall.
Flint Journal photo - orchard mason bee cocoons
[caption and photos © by Flint Journal;
Bruce Edwards, photographer]

All the buzz

Orchard mason bees cocoon with help

Sunday December 07, 2003
By Helen S. Bas Flint Journal Staff Writer

GRAND BLANC -  Louise Dawson is busy at her kitchen sink. Running water, a colander and lots of paper towels are in evidence. But she's not making dinner, she's washing bee cocoons.

Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc, is preparing orchard mason bees for the winter. In her third season, she's an expert at the process.

Orchard mason bees are small bees native to North America. They do not sting (unless severely provoked), stay in their area and are good pollinators.

"These are nonaggressive bees; you'd have to get one trapped under your shirt and be slapping at it, or something like that, before it would sting you," Dawson said. "Not only are stings rare, there have been no known (allergic) reactions (to stings) recorded to date."

Dawson thinks that with the recent reduced population of European honeybees in the United States, orchard mason bees are important pollinators for fruit and flower growers and home gardeners. "They need pollen and nectar; you supply the plants," she said. "They'll pollinate them in the process, and you should notice increased flowering and fruits."

Gardeners can purchase mason bee cocoons in late fall or winter and let them grow until spring. In the spring, the bees will emerge, reproduce and gather pollen and nectar for their young. The adults then die, leaving a new generation to take over.

Mason bees are not social insects like honeybees; they do not use hives. In the wild, eggs are placed in holes drilled by beetles or woodpeckers. The bees also will use spaces between roof shingles or other narrow openings around the garden.

For her bees, Dawson uses "bee blocks," small, wooden houses with an opening in the front and an overhang to keep rain and snow out. This is her third season raising the small critters; the first year she began with purchased bees, which come in cardboard tubes with paper liners.

Tubes are placed in the bee block, tightly enough to keep them from wobbling. Wooden wedges can be used to tighten the tubes. Blocks should be mounted on a building facing south or southwest, so the cocoons get as much warmth as they can during the winter. In the spring, the bees mature and emerge from the cocoons. Males emerge first, since the female knew the sex of her eggs and carefully placed females in the tube first, followed by males.

"Fewer males than females are needed to keep the species going, so females are more protected," Dawson said. "Even if only one male is left, he can fertilize a lot of females."

After the bees emerge, the cardboard tubes should be removed and the paper liners replaced. The cardboard tubes can be reused year after year; only if they get very wet or moldy is replacing necessary. After the bees mate, the female places eggs in the tubes. Each is separated by a "provision pot" of nectar and pollen - it is at this time that the bees' pollen-gathering also pollinates plants. After the provision pot is placed, the female places a mud plug in the tube (hence the term "mason"), then repeats the process with more eggs, pots and plugs. When the tube is full, she finishes with a heavy mud plug and her work is done.

The eggs hatch into larvae; they eat from the provision pots and form cocoons, which rest in the fall and winter, releasing mature bees next spring. The bees are very territorial, always going back to their own block. Dawson said an initial supply of bees can quickly grow; it's possible to have more each year without new purchases. "I started with 20 bees; in my second season I had 166," she said. "This is my third season now." Dawson is worried that she may not have such a stellar increase this year, possibly due to mites or parasitic wasps. While the fall washing is not strictly necessary, she said it helps reduce mites and wasps.

After carefully pulling the paper liners and splitting them, Dawson takes the cocoons and washes them in tepid water. She then washes again with a weak bleach solution to help kill mites and reduce "frass," waste by-products of the bees. She checks each cocoon to be sure it's a healthy one. If it's brittle or off-color, she discards it. Healthy cocoons are placed in new, split paper liners, females to the back, males to the front (males have a small white spot on their heads).

The liners are closed and placed in tubes; the ends are sealed with mud. "You can use masking tape instead of mud if you want, because they can chew their way through it," Dawson said. "Don't ever use any other kind of tape."

The tubes are placed back into the block, and in the spring, humans are treated to the sight of the adult bees coming out of the tubes. "We watch like little kids in the spring," Dawson said. "On the day they hatch, you can see the males come out and sit on the box. "It's fascinating and exciting. We bring folding chairs outside and sit and watch for hours."

Orchard mason bees, packed in tubes and available in sets of 20 bees, are available at J.J. Cardinals at 12830 Saginaw Road in Grand Blanc. Bee blocks, replacement tubes and liners and instructions also are available. Bees are sold through May 1, depending on availability, and must be kept refrigerated before placing outdoors in blocks. There is a limited supply each year. Call (810) 695-8733 for information and hours.

Helen S. Bas is the At Home writer and covers feature and entertainment stories. She may be reached at (810) 766-6244 or hbas@flintjournal.com.
© 2003 Flint Journal

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Sunday, October 05, 2003
photos by Jane Hale, Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News

Wise Idea

Shop patrons rewarded
with visit from pair of owls

Screechy, from Howell Nature Center Screechy, an
adult gray phase owl
with an injured wing,
stares out at visitors
at J.J. Cardinal's Wild
Bird & Nature Store

in Grand Blanc.

Pat Thomas-Laemont, Howell Nature Center Naturalist – Environmental Education Instructor
spacer.gif (43 bytes)Naturalist – Environmental Education Instructor Pat Thomas-Laemont from the Howell Conference & Nature Center holds Mr. Weber, an adult re phase owl with an injured wing, at J.J. Cardinal's wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc. Customers raised enough cash to adopt two baby screech owls being rehabilitated at the nature center in Howell.

photo by Roger Eriksson

Students stumping for Kirtland's warbler as state bird

Sunday, October 05, 2003
By Linda Angelo Flint Journal Staff Writer
GRAND BLANC - Grand Blanc - Should the Kirtland's warbler replace the robin as Michigan's state bird? The small yellow-breasted songbird that breeds almost entirely in Michigan is gaining some support, particularly among a group of City School students.

"The robin and chickadee are both state birds in other states," fifth-grader Max Lounds said. "I think choosing the Kirtland's warbler would be for the common good and make our state more interesting and unique."


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award from Grand Blanc Garden Club

Award presented to J.J. Cardinal's by Jane Wagner, President Grand Blanc Garden Club, branch of WNF&GA.

Local businesses get certificates for nice landscaping

Sunday, September 21, 2003
Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News Community Extra!

Four businesses in the Grand Blanc area have been honored for outstanding landscaping by the Grand Blanc Garden Club. The businesses are: J.J. Cardinal's, Big Boy Restaurant, DaEdoardo North restaurant, and Al Serra Chevrolet.

The Grand Blanc Garden Club is a branch of the Women's National Farm & Garden Association. It sponsored Plant Pink from 1961-1980, planting flowers along S. Saginaw Street in Grand Blanc. Information: 248-887-2289.

Community Calendar
Grand Blanc News - Sunday, September 21, 2003
Upcoming events at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc:

  • Birdie hour for preschoolers, 3-4 p.m. Sept. 22. Children will learn about common backyard birds. Free admission, but registration is required: (810) 695-8733.
  • Meet our owls, noon-2 p.m. Sept. 27. Earlier this year, J.J. Cardinal customers raised enough money to adopt two baby screech owls being rehabilitated at the Howell Nature Center; they are all grown up now and coming to meet us. Free. No reservations required.
  • Monthly story hour, 11 a.m.-noon Sept. 27. For children age 4 and up. A book will be read and participants will engage in a learning craft activity. Free. Registration required: (810) 695-8733.
Ted Black's Birds of Michigan

Meet the author: Ted Black at J.J. Cardinal's August 16th [2003]

Author of book on bird-watching to appear at store

Sunday, August 10, 2003
By Bob Wheaton Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News Community Staff Writer 

GRAND BLANC - Ted Black, author of the new book "The Birds of Michigan," will discuss the book, read excerpts and sign autographs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 16 at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw Road.

Black has "birded" in Michigan for more than 60 years. He received a doctorate from the University of Illinois and was a wildlife biologist and environmental specialist with the state Department of Natural Resources. He has led birding and nature tours on every continent except Australia.

"The Birds of Michigan," from Lone Pine Publishers, covers 302 species of birds found in the state. It includes complete descriptions of the birds, similar species, bird-in-flight illustrations and seasonal range maps. Nesting preferences, diet, vocalizations and where to observe the species also are included.

© 2003 Flint Journal

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Birder's World magazine - Aug. 2003

100 Feeders: find the perfect feeder for your needs...and where to get it

Birder's World magazine - August 2003

Our website: jjcardinal.com was sited in a Birder's World magazine feature article celebrating their 100th issue edition.  The photo-story showed a variety of the best feeders available today, and offered links to manufacturers and other sources for consumers to obtain more information...including J.J. Cardinal's! The majority of the feeders featured in the story are in-stock at J.J. Cardinal's, so naturally we're thrilled and delighted by the publicity.

For more info, see Birder's World magazine or check the feeders shown at this website; we have organized our feeders in 6 sections based on function or style.

Birding Business magazine - summer 2003

Seed-Selling Tips: Advice From Michigan

Birding Business magazine - summer 2003

The exclusive design on all seed bags from birding store JJ Cardinal in Grand Blanc Michigan helps set them apart from everybody else. Owner Louise Dawson designed her own bags and contracted with a seed wholesaler to mix custom blends to her specifications.

Education is a key component. She makes sure customers know important facts - such as that filler seed and grains are used in cheaper birdseed, and about the freshness factor, too. Because her seed is delivered weekly, fresh seed is guaranteed. The high quality seed, recognizable label and consistency of her product leads to customer loyalty.

Dawson has been selling mealworms for six of the 11 years she has been in business...she contracts with three different suppliers. Some customers buy a cup of 100 worms a week, a few buy upwards of several thousand a week. But whether they are large-scale buyers or not, Dawson finds that bluebirders are passionate about their hobby and dedicated to providing the birds mealworms.

[Note: the above excerpt is from Birding Business magazine published and distributed nationally by Longdown Management, Inc.]

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notes-tree-trunk.jpg (14408 bytes)

The Elephant Tree, subject for writing contest sponsored by J.J. Cardinal's.
[photo provided by Louise Dawson, who notes sadly, the elm above was cut down in early 2008, like tens of thousands of trees in Michigan, infested with the Dutch Elm fungus or elm bark beetles.]

Writing contest for youngsters to revolve around elephant

Sunday, February 02, 2003
By Linda Angelo Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News Community Staff Writer

GRAND BLANC - Children will stroll through the Grand Blanc Commons Nature Preserve, but they won't be searching for birds.

grandblanc-news-insert.jpg (17890 bytes)Instead, they'll actually be looking for an elephant. An elephant in Grand Blanc?

Well, not a real elephant but a tree trunk with a base that looks like the foot of an elephant.

The youngsters will write a fictitious story about how the elephant arrived at the park as part of a writing contest for fifth- through eighth-graders sponsored by the Grand Blanc Birding and Nature Association.

U.S. Savings Bonds of $100, $75 and $50 will go to the first, second and third place winners, respectively. Discovering the tree - as well as identifying it and coming up with its history - would be part of the fun, said Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store, 12830 S. Saginaw Road, Grand Blanc.

"I want them to know about The Commons because a lot of people don't know that nature preserve exists," Dawson said. "Maybe they will also use their creative thought process. "This is usually the time of year that it's gray, it's bleak. This gives them an activity to do, especially if they are stuck indoors."

The Grand Blanc Birding and Nature Association is an informal group of area residents who have an interest in birds and nature as a hobby.

[Postscript: info about the prize winners and the story selected #1 is available at Louise's Notes on this website.]

© 2003 Flint Journal


sponsored by the Flint Chamber of Commerce Women's Council

sponsored by the Flint Area Chamber of Commerce Women's Council.


Flint Journal - Grand Blanc News
Sunday, February 02, 2003 

  • SPEAKER - Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc, will be the guest speaker at the Flint Area Chamber of Commerce's "Business for Beginners" seminar series 8-9 a.m. Friday (02/07/03) at the Genesys Conference & Banquet Center, at I-75 and Holly Road in Grand Blanc Township. To pre-register: (810) 232-7107.
  • NATURE - A J.J. Cardinal's naturalist will present a slide show on the eastern bluebird 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 11 (2003) at the store, 12830 S. Saginaw, Grand Blanc. Proper nest box placement, box maintenance, and steps to ensure nesting success will be discussed. Cost is $16 and includes presentation and bluebird box kit for home assembly. Cost is $5 to attend without kit. Proceeds benefit the North American Bluebird Society. For all ages. Pre-registration required. Call (810) 695-8733.
    © 2002 Flint Journal

participants captivated by story-teller

above - participants enjoy Story Hour, held at J.J. Cardinal's.
[photo provided by Louise Dawson]
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Book it: Nature store offers Saturday morning story hour

Thursday, August 29, 2002
JOURNAL EXTRA - Flint Journal, Flint Michigan

Saturday mornings aren't just for cartoons anymore. Starting Sept. 7, J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store will offer a story hour each Saturday during the month.

...[Books used for Story Hour] from the store's library...will focus on wildlife and learning.

While the children listen, they can participate in a hands-on activity that complements the story, such as making Popsicle stick butterflies.

Light refreshments will be offered after the story hour. The story hours are free and begin at 11 a.m. They're suitable for children ages 4 and up. Space is limited, so arrive early. Details: (810) 695-8733.

[Note: Journal article edited by web page designer for brevity.] © 2002 Flint Journal

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feeding time!
Malinda Mastako

top - bluebird feeding juvenile;
below - Malinda Mastako.
[photos provided by Mastako]

Invite Bluebirds Into Your Yard

March 14, 2002
Community Voice - Holly, MI
By Margo Searls-Begy, The Holly Gardener

I had a bluebird house out in the middle of the yard two years ago. I didn’t get any bluebirds, but a couple of swifts raised a family in it. I still was hoping to attract bluebirds, so I asked some advice about bluebirds from the folks at J.J. Cardinals in Grand Blanc on S. Saginaw.

I learned that bluebirds like to have another perch site to sit on near their nest box, which I had not supplied. I moved the bluebird house to a location near my garden fence, and the next day there was a bluebird couple checking it out. I was so excited. They hung around intermittently for a few weeks, and then they disappeared. I found out that bluebirds have several nest sites scoped out, and will make the rounds checking them out to decide which one to use. My nest box didn’t make the first choice, but later that season they returned to raise their second brood in my yard. I so much enjoyed watching them all that season, that I am determined to do what I can to encourage them to return.

To that end I consulted noted bluebird expert and author Malinda Mastako of Novi, MI to give me some further information about what we as homeowners can do to encourage this beautiful but beleaguered native bird to our own yards. “There are many things that homeowners can do to attract bluebirds,” said Mastako. Here are some of her suggestions:

Reduce competition - Reduce the competition from non-native species like brown house sparrows. House sparrows are much more aggressive than bluebirds, and they kill or chase the bluebirds off, and even destroy their eggs or chicks to take over a nest site. To discourage brown house sparrows, do not put out feed with millet in it. Use only sunflower seed, safflower and thistle [Nyjer]. You will still attract the other birds that you do want, but not the sparrows.

Place the right nest box in the right place. Use a nest box made for bluebirds, with a 1 ½ in. hole in it. Place it at eye level on a slick metal pole (not wood) to prevent raccoons and chipmunks from stealing the babies. If you use a pole that can be climbed, use a baffle. Position the house within 30-50 ft. of another perching object (like a tree, shrub, or fence) so that the bluebirds can have a safe place to observe the nest, or launch an attack at intruders. The male and female communicate to one another if it is safe to leave the nest or not. Face the nest opening away from prevailing winds. Attach a black disc of paper to each side of the box. (These can be removed after the birds have found the box.)

Check the box. Bluebirds will not nest in a box that is occupied by wasps or ants. In the morning, when wasps would be sluggish, open the box to see if there are any insects in residence. If there is the beginnings of a wasp nest, squash the intruders with a handy implement, which you brought with you for the task. (Mastako uses a spatula.) To prevent further infestation, smear a thin coating of petroleum jelly to the inside lid of the house. Do not use any chemical pesticides, as this will harm the baby birds.

Provide a watering spot. This is desirable, but not essential. Bluebirds will bathe every day if provided a spot for it.

Provide more than one nest site. Again, desirable, but not essential. Sometimes if another bird takes the bluebird’s nest site, they will simply move over to the other, if available.

If you do not have any luck attracting bluebirds to your yard, you can still help the bluebirds by asking a large land owner if you can put up a nest, or string of nests, to provide a nice home for some bluebirds.

Mastako emphasizes how important it is to protect our native species of birds. “With all of the unnatural competition from the destruction of habitat and the introduction of imported species like the brown house sparrow and starlings, native species like the bluebird are being pushed out. Bluebirds are a gentle bird, and will loose a fight with house sparrows every time. Fifty years ago, bluebirds were a common sight to our grandparent’s generation. Now they are a rarity, and we have to do something to help them before we have to take our grandkids to a zoo to see one. There may be a lot of environmental problems in the world that we as individuals feel helpless to change, but this is something we can do something about right in our own back yards.”

And doing something, she is. Mastako regularly has not just two nestlings a year from her bluebirds, but she regularly helps her bluebirds to raise four broods a year; a fact she is justifiably proud of. She not only has provided them with a wonderful environment, she actually feeds them. Bluebirds are insect eaters, so she feeds Mealy Worms to her bluebirds. “During the early brooding season, feeding becomes more important, because if we get a late frost or and ice storm and the parents can’t get to natural food sources, the babies could starve if they are not fed for more than 24 hours. Later in the season I mostly feed them for my own pleasure of watching them. At that point they don’t really need my help anymore. But I feel if I am able to save just one brood of chicks from dying, all the effort would have been worth it.”

Now is the time to put up a nest box for bluebirds. If you have any question about bluebirds, check out the North American Bluebird’s Society web site at www.nabluebirdsociety.org/ . You can meet Melinda Mastako at J.J. Cardinal’s Wild Bird & Nature Store at 12830 S. Saginaw in Grand Blanc this Saturday, March 16 [2002] from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. where she will give a presentation on bluebirds. She will also be available for questions and comments during the presentation, and signing copies of the book “The Bluebird Monitor’s Guide” of which she is a contributing author/photographer.

[the Holly Community Voice is a publication by MultiMedia, LLC]

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Roger Eriksson

[caption from Flint Journal 02/14/02]

Bird man: Photographer to appear at J.J. Cardinal's

February 14, 2002
Flint Journal Extra!

GRAND BLANC - Wildlife photographer Roger Eriksson will be at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Feb. 23 for an exhibition of his favorite work.

Eriksson of Holly has been interested in nature and bird photography for eight years. He has a passion for warblers and has been able to capture images of more than 30 of Michigan's warbler species.

His images have been published in Audubon, Birder's World, National Wildlife Federation, Natural History Magazine, Donald and Lillian Stokes publications and others.

J.J. Cardinal's will donate profits from the sale of Eriksson's images to Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden. Seven Ponds is a Michigan Audubon Society affiliate. For details, stop by J.J. Cardinal's, 12830 S. Saginaw Road, or call (810) 695-8733.

Flint Journal photo of Jan. 26, '02 nature hike
Naturalist Louise Dawson (left) points out holes in a tree left by a woodpecker as Lisa Duve and others soak up the outdoors at the Grand Blanc Commons on Saturday. [captions from Flint Journal 01/31/02; photos by Journal photographer, Stuart Bauer]

Programs for bird lovers

January 27, 2002
By Matt Milkovich staff writer, The Grand Blanc News

GRAND BLANC - Bird and squirrel lovers have a lot to look forward to in the next few months. Winter Beginner's Bird Walk and Nature Hikes are currently being held on Saturdays at the Commons Nature Preserve, located behind McFarlen Public Library, 505 Perry Road in Grand Blanc.

Nature walk participants will learn how to look for birds and other wildlife, how to keep records of sightings and the "10 basics" of bird watching. No reservations are required and anyone is welcome. Warm dress is recommended.

The next hikes are scheduled for Feb. 9 and 23, and March 23. The cost is $1 per person.

The nature hikes are sponsored by J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird and Nature Store, located at 12830 S. Saginaw Street. Refreshments are served at J.J. Cardinal's after the hikes.

The bird and nature store has other programs for bird lovers coming up. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, children ages five and up can learn to build a birdcall. Participants will learn the difference between bird calls and songs and construct their own wooden bird call. Reservations are required and cost is $5 for a kit of materials. The time is 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the store.

Kids can also build squirrel feeders. On Monday, Feb. 4, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., children age five and older can construct a wooden chair and table and corn cob-holding squirrel feeder. They can also learn about Michigan's squirrels. Reservations are required, and the cost is $15 for a materials kit, plus a bag of corncobs.

Children five and up can build fruit feeders, too. On Tuesday, Feb 19 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., participants can construct a wooden fruit feeder and learn about the species of birds and other wildlife that will benefit from its offerings. Reservations are required, and the cost is $8 per materials kit.

On Monday, March 11, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., participants will see a slide presentation on Eastern Bluebirds and how to attract them. Reservations are required. There is no cost.

Hummingbird feeders are next. Kids five and up will learn about the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird and see an actual hummingbird nest. They will learn about the hummingbird's nest habits, how it rears its young, and its migration habits. The $10 kit includes all materials to complete the project. Reservations are required. Call J.J. Cardinal's at (810) 695-8733 for more information.

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bat diner
A hoary bat eats a mealworm during presentation.
J.J. Cardinal event: a corn snake fascinates audience
Harry Eiferle of Fenton Twp. and grandson Harrison watch Rob Mies, director of the Organization for Bat Conservation in Haslett, show a corn snake during a presentation at the Grand Blanc Heritage Museum on Nov. 6.
J.J. Cardinal event: attendees see a veiled chameleon
Mies shows a veiled chameleon from the rain forests of Central America. [captions from Flint Journal; photos by Journal photographer, Jane Hale]
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Creepy critters captivate kids

Thursday, November 15, 2001
By Linda Angelo Journal staff writer

Grand Blanc - Oohs and ahhs echoed through the Grand Blanc Heritage Museum as visitors got an up-close view of creatures that live in different forests.

Many were intrigued by the chameleon, an odd-looking reptile that lives in the rain forest. The chameleon has bulging eyes, nasal horns on its snout and a long tongue that darts out to catch insects. A unique characteristic is its ability to change color when it is upset.

"Why is his tail so straight?" and "When do they get mad?" were some of the questions posed to Rob Mies, director of the Organization for Bat Conservation in Haslett.

Mies answered the questions as he walked around the room with the chameleon perched on top of his hand. "His eyes work independently of each other," Mies said. "One looks one way and one the other way."

Besides the chameleon, visitors got a chance to see and learn about a red-eyed tree frog, flying squirrel, corn snake and hoary bat - the largest in Michigan. When Mies brought out a cage with a flying squirrel inside, Kyle H., a fifth-grader at Myers Elementary School, said, "Oh, he's cute!"

Although they are called flying squirrels, Mies said, the animals don't soar through the sky. "They have flaps between two legs that allow them to glide quite a bit, but they do not fly," he said. "They do not have wings."

Felicia M., a third-grader at Myers, said she liked the red-eyed tree frog the best of all the animals presented. "I liked its red eyes," she said. "It kind of looked like the (gecko) on TV (for Geico Insurance)."

Linda Angelo covers Grand Blanc and Goodrich. She can be reached at (810) 766-6340 or langelo@flintjournal.com. Program sponsored by J.J. Cardinal's of Grand Blanc.

[notes: last names of students and minors were omitted by J.J. Cardinal's web guy; J.J. Cardinal's, sponsor of this program, extends thanks to the Heritage Museum. We are grateful for the museum's generosity in sharing this space which houses a variety of interesting artifacts relevant to our community.]

photo from Flint Journal 10-28-01
J.J. Cardinal's in Grand Blanc has traditional sundials and some, worn as pendants or rings, called 'Aquitaine,' 'ring' or 'Saturn' dials.
[caption from Flint Journal Oct. 28, 2001]

Time machines - clock designs represent past, present and future

Sunday, October 28, 2001
By Helen S. Bas, Flint Journal staff writer

Flint - Now that most clocks have been reset for the change back to standard time, perhaps it's time for another look at those clocks.

Are they plain, functional, even boring? There are plenty of unusual and downright weird timepieces available to spice up the answer to the good old question, "What time is it?" Things Remembered in the Genesee Valley shopping center in Flint Township has clocks for many themes. For the sports lover, there are clocks embedded in basketballs, baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, golf balls, even a hockey puck.

An ultramodern clock mounted in a glass and metal stand looks like a gyroscope and twirls around like the toys of the '60s. It would fit well in the most modern of homes. And speaking of toys, the Disney store has a "Monsters, Inc." fuzzy green clock for big or little kids.

If creepy or startling is your thing, how about a gargoyle hugging a clock or one that is mirror-image backward? Spencer Gifts has these and more. Back before clocks were invented, sundials were an accurate way to tell the time. J.J. Cardinals in Grand Blanc has traditional sundials and some, worn as pendants or rings, called "Aquitaine," "ring" or "Saturn" dials. Line up the sun through a hole in the jewelry and see where the pinpoint of light falls.

Atomix clocks are a high-tech way of assuring that not only do you have the time, but that you have the correct time, according to the nation's official clock.

Made by the Chaney Instrument Co., the clocks synchronize to the clock maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo. It uses a radio signal to update at least once a day. Perhaps the biggest advantage to those weary of resetting twice a year is automatic adjustment for daylight-saving and standard time (the feature can be turned off where daylight-saving time is not observed).

With so many unique timepieces, there's no excuse not to know just what time it is.

[Notes: For information about Atomix clocks, visit www.atomixtime.com. To learn about the United States official atomic clock, visit www.nist.gov. Helen S. Bas is the At Home writer and covers feature and entertainment stories. She may be reached at (810) 766-6244 or hbas@flintjournal.com]

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Flint Journal photo: 10-04-01
Louise Dawson, owner of J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store in Grand Blanc, bags bird seed, a popular seller. The store also stocks a variety of garden accessories, including bird feeders and wind chimes.
[caption from Flint Journal Oct. 4, 2001; photo by Journal's photographer: Jane Hale]


Where the wild things are:
Nature store caters to lovers of the great outdoors

Thursday, October 4, 2001
By Linda Angelo, Flint Journal staff writer

Grand Blanc Twp. - Louise Dawson says the trick to luring wild birds is food and proper placement of the feeder. She should know. Dawson sells between 3,000 and 4,000 pounds of a mixed grain bird seed a week at J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store.

Her store also carries the largest assortment of bird feeders in Genesee County. For hummingbirds alone, shoppers can choose from 24 styles of feeders made of wood, copper, hand-blown glass or plastic. But J.J. Cardinal's isn't just a store for bird lovers. Its wide selection of decorative lawn ornaments, wind chimes, butterfly feeders and nature-inspired CDs is attracting gardeners and nature lovers as well.

Jean Montooth of Grand Blanc Township has purchased everything from binoculars to bird baths at the store, located at 12830 Saginaw Road. "Look at the garbage can for bird seed," she said as she pointed to hand-painted flowers on the trash can. "You can't really call it a garbage can. It's darling."

Some of the items on display are made from local artists, such as Doug Drigget, who crafted stained glass bumble bee and butterfly lawn ornaments. Prices range from $22 to $38.

"In the past five years, (lawn ornaments) have become huge," Dawson said. "People are gardening more and spending more time at home." Assorted Woodstock chimes, overalls made with natural fabrics and dyes, Harmony Hollow bells and hand-blown glass and copper butterfly feeders are some of the other popular items sold in the store, Dawson said.

Many of the regular customers at J. J. Cardinal's, though, come for the store's bird seed. Dawson said she sells six grains known to be most attractive to song birds: black-oil sunflower seed, safflower, sunflower hearts, Nyjer, white-proso millet and corn. Shirley and Carl Christenson of Grand Blanc have been shopping at the store for nearly six years. Shirley said she is impressed with the staff's knowledge of the different species of birds and their emphasis on customer service.

"I have called on the phone several times and told them I've seen a certain bird, it looks like this or that, and they either tell me what it is and its habitat or if they don't know, they will look it up and call me back," she said. "That's service."

While the bird feeders or trinkets may lure people into the store, one of the top sellers is bugs. Dawson said she had a record year, selling 880 monarch caterpillars. People buy the caterpillars, she said, to watch them transform into butterflies.

Dawson decided to open her nature store after having worked in retail with J.C. Penney for 17 years. It took her two years to craft a 64-page business plan for the store. "I did a demographic study to make sure this is an area that could support this and it said, 'No,' but I was determined to do it," she said. Nearly [ten] years later, the business seems to be thriving. Hand-written notes from customers commenting about the store's uniqueness are taped on the counter along with pictures of people who attended workshops the store hosted.

Pam Walmsley of Atlas Township said she particularly enjoyed the wildlife classes. "It's interesting to go and talk about just Michigan snakes ... (and) listen to people talk about bats and what to do to attract them and how beneficial they are," she said.

Dawson, 47, is married to Michael, who is retired. They have two cats and live on a 10-acre wooded lot in Grand Blanc Township. Besides running the store and teaching classes, Dawson also speaks to garden clubs, conducts nature hikes twice a month at the Grand Blanc Commons behind McFarlen Public Library and distributes a quarterly newsletter to customers.

J.J. Cardinal's is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.


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Flint Journal photo (6-17-2001)

Wild Ones member Louise Dawson checks a field guide to identify a type of grass.
[caption from Flint Journal June 17, 2001; photo by Journal's photographer: Lisa Dejong]

Hidden Risks: Gardeners work to save 'wild ones'

Sunday, June 17, 2001
By Elizabeth Shaw, Flint Journal staff writer

"With native landscaping, I feel like I'm adding something real to the environment, not just decorating it." - Virginia Chatfield, president of local Wild Ones chapter.

Grand Blanc Twp. - On a recent sunny afternoon in a subdivision field, a group of gardeners was hard at work with shovels and spades. Their intent wasn't weed control.

The Wild Ones were on a rescue mission, snatching rare native plants from the bulldozer's path on land slated for development. Using their vehicles as a makeshift Noah's Ark for endangered plants, the natural landscaping advocates are transplanting specimens to a new and safer home, in the hopes of preserving the native ecosystem.

"I know they're just plants, but you feel you're nurturing this little living thing," said Louise Dawson of Grand Blanc Township, who organized the wetlands plant rescue in an undeveloped section of Woodfield, Paragon Development's 850-acre golf course community planned for about 1,000 homes.

Last year, the group transplanted about 150 rare native specimens - including wild coffee, wild ginger, wild geranium, mayapple, trout lily and trillium - to Bicentennial Park, also in Grand Blanc Township. They hope to identify even more this year. "Most of the plants we're digging have a protected, no-pick status in the state. If we don't transfer them, they haven't got a chance."

Dawson said she got permission from both Paragon and the township before launching the rescue. "Years ago when I'd hear about a new development, on my own I'd just sneak in and rescue plants if I knew they were going to be in trouble. But now I go about it the right way," Dawson said, laughing.

The 33-member group is a chapter of the national Wild Ones organization. Now in its third year, the club is gaining recognition as public awareness increases on the need to protect native ecosystems, which are rapidly disappearing under the onslaught of invasive, nonnative plants.

Horticulturist Ginny Knag said she's still battling an invasion she herself unwittingly introduced on her family's centennial farm in Grand Blanc Township. In the late 1960s, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service and state conservation departments distributed multiflora rose to farmers for use in soil erosion control. Knag was one of those who planted the hardy Japanese native. "It has fragrant white flowers and red berries that are supposed to be wonderful wildlife food," she said. "It turned out to be the plant from hell."

On Knag's farm as elsewhere, the thorny, almost impenetrable shrub soon spread out of control. It is now considered a serious invader of agricultural lands from the Midwest to the East Coast. "It's a perfect example of trying something new without doing the homework," Knag said. "When non-native outnumber the natives, the area becomes degraded and loses its biodiversity and puts the entire ecosystem at risk."

The group hopes to educate the public through promoting natural landscaping at home. "Some people just like using a few native plants in perennial borders and other traditional landscaping niches," said Virginia Chatfield of Mundy Township, a professional landscape designer. "Others want to create an entire natural habitat for native plants and wildlife."

But the concept can create controversy, especially in suburban settings. About four years ago, Steve and Diane Thurman of Fenton Township found that out firsthand. The Thurmans - who aren't Wild Ones members - left their lakeside back yard unmowed for a year and piled up brush for rabbit and bird habitat.

In 1998, the couple were charged with violating the township's blight ordinance. "Birdhouses are fine for attracting wildlife, but grass up to your knees is just not appropriate for this area," said township Supervisor Carl Gabrielson at the time. The township later dropped the case - with its threat of a potential $500 fine and 90 days in jail - after the Thurmans agreed to destroy the brush pile.

Today, the meadow is thriving, but the controversy remains. "We're still a thorn in the neighborhood's side," said Thurman, a GM environmental engineer. "Some are neutral but others are still pretty unhappy with us. The township revisits it every year." "It's still a raging concern," said Tracey Howard, who lives across the street. "There is a place for this kind of thing and it can be wonderful. But if you want to do a wetland, don't buy property in a subdivision."

Thurman said the most recent complaints involved a stand of spruce and white pine saplings they planted along one property line. "We intended it as a border to help form a visual buffer but they saw it as a fence," he said. Howard said part of the problem is a wildlife habitat doesn't stay inside property lines. "We've got a lot more creatures in the whole neighborhood now," she said. "Thankfully I've got a big dog who delights in chasing them off." Thurman said he understands his neighbors' complaints but isn't about to yield. "They do things we don't agree with either," he said.

Chatfield, who has a seven-acre prairie on her farm, said many Wild Ones converted after years of traditional gardening and landscape design. "What we do with ornamental landscaping is pretty superficial. These are plants that don't really belong together. They don't function as a real unit or habitat. It's very artificial and cosmetic," she said. "With native landscaping, I feel like I'm adding something real to the environment, not just decorating it."

But none of these enthusiasts have any illusions about swaying popular opinion too quickly or easily. "This is a new concept for a lot of people. We as a country have spent decades convincing people they need a lawn for grass and certain landscape plants," said Knag. "That's the look we've dictated as the norm. "But that look is dependent on all kinds of artificial maintenance, from mowing to fertilizers, and it's all petrochemically dependent. Hopefully soon people will begin to see this is a viable alternative."

QUICK FACTS: For information on plant rescues or the Wild Ones, call Louise Dawson at J.J. Cardinal's Nature Store, (810) 695-8733.

Elizabeth Shaw covers Flushing, Swartz Creek and western Genesee County. She can be reached at (810) 766-6311 or eshaw@flintjournal.com

bat program


[Flint Journal October 5, 2000; photos by Journal's photographer: Jane Hale]

Bats in the museum

October 5, 2000
Flint Journal photo story

(top left)
Grand Blanc - Erin Lund of the Organization for Bat Conversation in Williamson holds a small Mexican Free tail bat for a group of children at the Heritage Museum in Grand Blanc.

(bottom left)
Gizmo, a dessert pallid bat, also was on hand for the demonstration.

note: J.J. Cardinal's sponsors such programs each year on a variety of topics including Michigan's Live Snakes, Frogs, Turtles, Spiders, Birds of Prey, Monarch Butterflies, and more.

Guest speakers are all subject matter experts - entertaining and informative.

Many of these programs are held at Grand Blanc's Heritage Museum on Grand Blanc, Rd. We are grateful for the museum's generosity in sharing this keen space which houses a variety of interesting artifacts relevant to our community.

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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI  48439  810-695-8733
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