Forest habitats are full of life! They aren’t just where you find trees, but wildflowers, birds, turtles, salamanders, and mammals too! Below you’ll find a list of forest resources including scavenger hunts, stories, art ideas, fun videos, and much more. Let these resources guide you the next time you go exploring in our forest habitats! May the forest be with you!
Table of Contents
Use the links below to help navigate to the information you are looking for:
- Story Time: Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep & Because of an Acorn
- Spring Ephemeral Scavenger Hunt (1 & 2)
- Video: What’s that Bird I Hear (Part 1)
- Video: All About Woodpeckers
- Video: Virtual Woodpecker Walk
- Video: Virtual Whistle of the Whip-poor-will Walk
- Video: Spring Wildflowers of Ottawa County (Parts 1 & 2)
- Video: Wildflowers Identification (Part 1 & 2)
- Video: Spring Wildflower Walk (Part 1) by mi EcoBUZZ
- Additional Resources
- Bringing Nature to You homepage
Story Time: Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep
- Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep by April Pulley Sayre, Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Story Time: Because of an Acorn
Because of an Acorn by Lola Schaefer and Adam Schaefer. Illustrated by Frann Preston -Gannon.
Spring Ephemeral Scavenger Hunt 1 & 2
Have you ever wondered what birds you’re hearing when you wander the woodlands? This video is a virtual guide to help you learn 10 common bird songs of our forests & woodlands. Each bird includes a song and a description of what you’re hearing. Watch for the corresponding Soundscape video and Part 2 of this video in the near future! For more on birds, their songs and how to identify them click here for a free online bird guide. We hope you enjoy learning while you listen!
Video: All About Woodpeckers
You might wonder why woodpeckers pound their beaks on trees and how they do it. You’ll discover why in this program and also learn about West Michigan’s seven woodpecker species. Woodpecker sounds used in this video can be found here.
Video: Virtual Woodpecker Walk
In this video you’ll find out about West Michigan’s seven woodpecker species and then go on an adventure in an attempt to find them all in Ottawa County! Most of the footage filmed by the author; additional footage (during introduction to the species) provided by Kestrel Imagery. Music by iMovie; additional music for Mt. Pisgah scenes All That from Bensound.com.
Video: Virtual Whistle of the Whip-poor-will Walk
In this video you’ll be introduced to this whistler of moonlit woods! Naturalist Curtis Dykstra will tell you a bit about this unique bird, explore into its habitat and venture on a nighttime search at one of their local haunts to experience this bird first-hand!
Spring Wildflowers of Ottawa County (Parts 1 and 2)
Wondering what those beautiful spring flowers are that you see while walking a woodland trail? Check out this short music video filled with beautiful photos of spring wildflowers with their names listed. See you if you can recognize any you see on your walks.
Wildflowers Identification (Part 1)
Wildflowers Identification (Part 2): Using the Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide
Spring Wildflower Walk (Part 1) by mi EcoBUZZ
Whether you’re an expert at wildflower identification or merely a casual observer, the beauty & diversity of spring wildflowers is eye-catching and awe-inspiring! Join Jessica from mi EcoBUZZ for a spring wildflower walk through a Michigan deciduous forest. Subscribe to the mi EcoBUZZ channel by clicking here.
In addition to the forest habitat activities from Ottawa County Parks, we also want to share other excellent resources with you. All of the following videos and activities have been reviewed by our Naturalist Team and you can be sure the information is accurate and appropriate for children. Use them to dig deeper as you explore our forest habitats!
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
This video series developed by the Michigan DNR is a great way to learn some tips and tricks to help you identify some of Michigan’s trees. Check out the Hartwick Pines Tree Detectives below:
Learn more about the vital role that snags (standing dead trees) and downed trees play in the forest ecosystem with Tree Buffet!
The Michigan DNR’s 60-Second Snakes video series talks about identification tips and information about Michigan’s snake species. This episode features the black rat snake. Learn more about the black rat snake at: http://bit.ly/blackratsnake. Looking for more 60-Second Snake videos? Check out this playlist: 60-Second Snakes.
Join Elizabeth Tillman from Hoffmaster State Park as she shares some interesting facts about a really neat forest dweller, the Eastern Box Turtle.
There is a whole world under the leaves waiting to be explored. Take a look at this video for ideas on how to search through the leaf litter in the forest for small critters. Always make sure to put logs back carefully when you are finished!
Have you ever wondered how trees grow? The answer might surprise you. In this video from the USDA Forest Service, you’ll learn how trees change on a daily basis while growing larger over time. You’ll also get to see how fast a real Douglas-fir tree grew over 2 weeks in the summer.
Here is another great video that explains the parts of a tree and how they grow:
A Better Way to Think About Wildland Fire
While most wildland fire videos focus on fires in the Western United States, they can help us think deeper about the role of fire in our ecosystems here in Michigan and how fire can be used as a tool to help manage them. Check out the videos below!
Michigan Forest History
This video, produced in 1993, contains information on Michigan’s logging era, with an emphasis on Clare County during the last quarter of the 19th century. It is a bit of a long watch but if you are interested in the backstory of the forests we have today, this will satisfy your curiosity.
Threats to Forest Health
There are several forest pests that threaten the health of forests here in Michigan. Take a look at this short news clip that looks closer at a pest, Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, here in Ottawa County that we are looking to contain.
Curious about owls that live in forests near you? Learn more about BABY the Barred Owl from Sarah, Blandford Nature Center’s Wildlife Education Specialist!
Blandford also has a great video on a neat Michigan Mammal, the Bobcat.
Red-backed salamanders are terrestrial and live in deciduous forests. Discover facts about red-backed salamanders with information from a published biologist in this free video on amphibians.
Ready to dig deeper? The Michigan Natural Features Inventory has some great informational pages on a variety of habitats found here in Michigan.
Check out these forest habitat pages:
Project Learning Tree is a great resource for finding outdoor activities that can easily be done in your backyard, local parks, or even inside if needed!
Looking for other ideas? Check these links out:
Rainy day at home? Can’t get outside to explore? Try these crafty activities to help you learn more about some of the birds that call the forest habitat home.
We all know that woodpeckers like to peck wood! (haha!) They often move up and down a tree trunk, pecking for insects to eat with their beak. That motion, pecking while going up and down, is the theme of the craft activity and what you can observe when testing.
Different types of birds lay their eggs in different places. Some build tiny nests in bushes, some build enormous nests in tall trees. Some lay their eggs directly on the ground or on rocky ledges. Those that build nests use many different types of materials. In this project you will try to build your own bird nest using only natural materials that you can find outside. Can you do better than a bird?
Do you remember making leaf rubbings as a kid? This is a great activity to help your student get to know the parts of a leaf. Add in a bark rubbing for each tree you find and you could make a field guide of your area trees.