Several American avocets have been reported along Berrien County’s Lake Michigan shoreline in recent weeks. Up to six avocets were reported from July 17-30 at St. Joseph by multiple observers; two were photographed on July 21 near Union Pier by Andy Belt, a visiting birder from Indiana. David Ferris photographed an avocet on July 28 near New Buffalo.
American avocets are shorebirds, standing at 18 inches tall, and nest among the Great Plains and western states. They migrate toward the east and Gulf Coasts through the Great Lakes beginning in early July. Most move through Michigan by September, but occasionally they are seen as late as November.
Last month a dead armadillo was found on the Indiana Toll Road in Porter County, Indiana, which is less than 50 miles from the Michigan state line. It begs the question as to when a wild armadillo will turn up in Michigan.
The nine-banded armadillo is usually associated with southern states, but over the last century this strange-looking mammal has been extending its range northward. The nine-banded armadillo lived in South America at the time Europeans came to the New World, but by the late 1800s it appeared in the southern U.S. and has extended its range northeast ever since.
By the 1990s and early 2000s, wild armadillos were found in southern Illinois. Indiana’s first armadillo showed up in 2003, and currently over 30 have been reported in the Hoosier State.
Armadillos are not likely to establish themselves in Michigan or northern Indiana, as they do not hibernate and are susceptible to cold winters. However, it is likely that an armadillo may roam farther north than its established range into Michigan during the warm months.
Jonathan Wuepper is an area naturalist. Report your sightings to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.