Last week I paid a visit to the Fort St. Joseph Historic Site open house in Niles and learned that one of the noteworthy archaeological finds during the 2019 field season included a humerus (arm bone) of a black bear.

At the time of my visit, the humerus had not yet been removed from the excavation site, but had been carefully cleaned on one side, which presented a good photo opportunity.

Terrance J. Martin, Curator Emeritus of Anthropology at Illinois State Museum, oversees the faunal remains recovered at Fort St. Joseph.

Martin said finding an intact humerus bone of a black bear is noteworthy because most bones found at this site are broken into several pieces.

Native Americans, early French trappers and pioneers in our region ate bear meat and used the hides for warmth.

Fort St. Joseph was active from 1691-1781, at a time when black bears were found throughout the region. Habitat destruction and unregulated hunting led to the local extinction of the bear from Indiana and southern Michigan by 1900.

Additionally, bone fragments of eastern cottontail, beaver, porcupine, raccoon, elk, and white-tailed deer have been found at Fort St. Joseph.

Bones of bird species have also been found, including wild turkey, passenger pigeon, Canada goose, duck, ruffed grouse, and chicken.

This year’s archeological field work at Fort St. Joseph has concluded. Artifacts found have been taken to the lab at Western Michigan University.

Vickie Hamilton of Royalton Township photographed a green heron this week, which has been hanging around an unused swimming pool. Algae has started to grow on the pool, which in turn has attracted green and bull frogs. 

The first migrant green herons arrive back in Michigan from their wintering grounds during late April, but the majority come in May.

Breeding occurs during May and June, and most young of the year have fledged the nest by mid-August. Young will remain near their parents for another few weeks before going off on their own.

Fall migration for the green heron is not far off. Those that nest in the Upper Peninsula are already moving south, while local breeders will start their southward trek by Labor Day.

Most green herons depart the state during September and a few can be found lingering in October. The latest green heron reported in fall was one seen on a Christmas Bird Count in Baroda Township in December 1974.

Brad Anderson photographed a ruby-throated hummingbird at his Bridgman feeder on Aug. 3. Only the adult male ruby-throated hummingbird has red throat feathers. Females and young males lack the throat feathers.

Adult male ruby-throated hummingbirds are already starting to migrate southward for the cold months. The adult males can afford to leave early as they do not tend to the young, nor participate in nest construction.

Adult females are likely still tending to young for another few weeks, and then will begin migrating south.

Anderson also sent a photo of a buck white-tailed deer, with small velvet antlers. This buck was seen near the youth campground at Warren Dunes State Park on Aug. 1.

The previously reported Bell’s vireo was still present as of Aug. 5, in a brushy area adjacent to the parking lot of the Renaissance Athletic Club in Benton Harbor. This western songbird was initially discovered on July 9 by Matt Hysell of Royalton Township.

Jonathan Wuepper is an area naturalist. Report your sightings to him at