CONSERVATION

WHAT YOU CAN DO

CONSERVATION

Habitat Hero

Join John Ball Zoo in being a Habitat Hero. Choosing native plants like trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants help wildlife by providing important habitat like food and shelter. Native plants are often preferred by insects and may even be required for many insects to survive – like milkweed for caterpillars of the Monarch Butterfly!

Join us as we engage with our community to help provide these valuable plants to community members and become a Habitat Hero. John Ball Zoo will be out in the community providing free trees, shrubs, and pollinator plants. 

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CONSERVATION

Native Trees & Shrubs

Below is additional information about the plants we’ll be distributing throughout the community, including how to plant them, how to care for them, as well as the wildlife you can expect to benefit from them. *We’ll be planting more information here soon for plants provided at Party for the Planet.

American Basswood
(Tilia Americana)

Tulip Tree
(Liriodendron Tulipfera)

White Pine
(Pinus Strobus)

Jack Pine
(Pinus BanksianaI)

Witch Hazel
(Hammamelis Ovalis)

Buttonbush
(Cephalanthus Accidentalis)

Highbush Cranberry
(Viburnum Trilobum)

CONSERVATION

John Ball Zoo FrogWatch Chapter

FrogWatch USA is a citizen science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). John Ball Zoo hosts an active chapter.

You don’t have to be an expert to join in FrogWatch and help contribute valuable information to scientists studying amphibians! This citizen science program provides individuals, groups and families the opportunity to learn about wetlands in their communities and report data on the calls of local frogs and toads. For more information please visit aza.org/frogwatch 

If you did not attend a training session, please watch the virtual training session below before participating

  • Friday, May 6th at Saul Lake Bog at 8:30p.m.
  • ​Friday, May 20th at Saul Lake Bog at 8:30p.m.  *This observation has been cancelled and rescheduled to Friday, May 27th at 8:30p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 21st at Saul Lake Bog 9:00p.m.

For more information about our in-person training sessions, visit the Facebook event page

FrogWatch Virtual Training 
If you missed our in-person or live zoom training, please feel free to watch this recording. If you’re a returner you may also find it helpful to skip to the end and practice your calls again.
 
 

 

Volunteers are asked to attend at least one training session; learn the importance of amphibians, identify frog species by their calls and, observe frogs in your area. We ask that volunteers commit to collecting data approximately once a week for about 10 mins during the season. Formal volunteer training sessions are offered in February and March with field trainings in the spring and early summer. Ready to get started? Register for JBZoo Frogwatch here!

Register your observation site and enter observations online at FrogWatch Fieldscope.

Test your frog call knowledge using this fun frog quiz and learn more about amphibians from the USGS.

This site is specific to Michigan calls. Froggy Voices of Michigan

 

For more information, contact Travis Kurtz at [email protected]

To join the FrogWatch mailing list, sign up here 

Signing up for the FrogWatch mailing list will subscribe you to updates and information regarding the FrogWatch program and group observations only.

CONSERVATION

Monitor Monarch Butterfly Migration

Tagged monarchs that are recovered along their spring migration North are recorded and a list is published usually in late spring. To see if your monarch was found by a scientist, visit Monarch Watch. Remember it may take several months before your tag number will show up in the tracking system.

How You Can Help At Home

Whether it’s a stop on their migration route or a summer long home, monarchs need habitat to find food, lay eggs and be a caterpillar. You can help these butterflies by adding milkweed to your gardens or by creating a full butterfly waystation. A waystation has everything butterflies need for their entire life cycle. Milkweed plants play a vital role in the life cycle of a monarch as it is the only plant that eggs will be laid on and that caterpillars will eat! After forming a chrysalis and emerging as a butterfly, they will need nectar producing flowers to feed on until they are able to start the cycle again. To find out more about how you can help visit https://rivercitygrandrapids.wildones.org/

Habitat Hero

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Great Lakes Rare Turtles

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Turtles are in trouble around the world and locally. The Great Lakes Rare Turtle Program addresses on threats that are existential and widespread for Blanding’s, Spotted, Wood, and Box Turtles. The John Ball Zoo is working wth partners to study head starting as a conservation tool, protecting nesting habitat for Wood Turtles from raccoons, and researching the distribution and status of Spotted Turtles in Southwest Michigan. The zoo partners with local community scientists to indentify road crossings that pose a threat to Blanding’s and other species of turtles.

Partners

Poweshiek Skipperling

Oarisma powesheik

Facts
Habitat

Grassland, Wetlands (inland)

Threat Range

Critically Endangered

Region

Extant (resident) - Canada (Manitoba); United States (Wisconsin, Michigan), Possibly Extinct - United States (South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa), Extinct - United States (Indiana, Illinois)

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Mitchell's Satyr

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The prairie fens of southern Michigan are a stronghold for the Endangered Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly. We are working with Michigan State University, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and the Kalamazoo Nature Center to develp to propagate this rare butterfly. Offspring reared in the program may be used to supplement wild Mitchell’s Satyr populations.

Partners

Freshwater Mussels

Great Lakes Conservation
About

Freshwater Mussels are one of the most fastenating groups of animals. Unfortunately they are also one of the most imperiled groups on animals with more than 70% of North American species listed as Threatened or Endangered. Our own Grand River is home to an impressive 32 different species, 19 of which are listed. The John Ball Zoo is working with scientists at Grand Valley State University to evaluate Grand River Mussel populations. During the 2023 field season, the team documented over 1,000 individuals from 27 different species. This includes the Endangered Snuffbox Mussel.

Partners

Habitat Hero

Community Science
About

The Habitat Hero program is focused on creating better urban pollinator habitat by giving away native plants to west Michigan community members. By giving away native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, we are inviting community members to provide crucial nectar sources for pollinators as well as become more involved in pollinator conservation in their own yards and gardens.

Partners

Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

Community Science
About

American Kestrels are one of North America’s most abundant raptors, but their populations have been steadily declining since the mid 1960’s. This year we have begun participating in the American Kestrel Partnership, run by the Peregrine Fund, to monitor local kestrel nest boxes and help better understand Kestrel population trends and biology.

Partners

Grand River Sucker Monitoring

Community Science
About

Suckers are a very important, and often overlooked, group of migratory fish that inhabit the Grand River. Every spring they migrate upriver from Lake Michigan to spawn in tributaries of the Grand River. We are joining a project started by the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago to determine how changes in temperature and flow of the streams impact the spawning behavior of the suckers.

Partners

Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

Community Science
About

One of the major threats to turtle populations is mortality associated with roads and vehicles. We have a team of trained volunteers who survey predetermined road crossing sites and report the number of turtles they find at these locations. We plan to use the data to assist in conservation decision-making regarding roads and turtles in west Michigan.

Partners

Michigan Butterfly Network

Community Science
About

As part of our pollinator conservation work, we want to understand how native butterfly populations are changing over time. By training community members to use the Michigan Butterfly Network monitoring protocol, we are offering passionate people the opportunity to help contribute to our understanding of butterfly populations in west Michigan.

Partners

Bat Surveys

Community Science
About

West Michigan is home to several species of rare and threatened species of bats. This summer we will have a group of volunteers collecting bat occurrence data by driving predetermined routes and using special recorders and software to identify bat species. The data will be submitted to the North American Bat Monitoring Project as part of their ongoing analysis of bat abundance and occupancy across North America.

Partners

Massasauga Rattlesnake

Great Lakes Conservation
About

The Massasauga is Michigan’s only venomous snake and plays an important role in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, these snakes are declining in numbers and are listed as Threatened. The John Ball Zoo helps to educate the public on the plight of the Massasauga and helps conservation biologists study them in the field. Currently, we are assisting Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, Grand Valley State University, and Sarett Nature Center develop new technologies to monitor this secretive snake species.

Partners

City Nature Challenge

Community Science
About

The City Nature Challenge is one of the world’s largest annual community science events. Started by iNaturalist in 2016 as a friendly competition between the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, this bioblitz has grown into a global phenomenon with over 500 cities participating. Taking place over the last weekend in April each year, the City Nature Challenge is all about getting outside and documenting the biodiversity in and around our communities while building and strengthening relationships with other people who are passionate about conserving local species. The West Michigan City Nature Challenge is Michigan’s only City Nature Challenge event, and encompasses Allegan, Barry, Kent and Ottawa Counties. We are excited to partner with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and many other local organizations to engage our communities in four days of exploring our biodiverse outdoor spaces.

Partners

Michigan Area

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Freshwater Mussels

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Habitat Hero

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Kestrel Nest Box Monitoring

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Grand River Sucker Monitoring

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Turtle Road Mortality Surveys

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Michigan Butterfly Network

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Bat Surveys

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Massasauga Rattlesnake

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City Nature Challenge

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Get Involved!