The common snapping turtle is found throughout all of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, and southern Canada. It is one of the most abundant turtles in Southwest Michigan. Most sightings occur from May through July, when females emerge from ponds to lay their eggs in nest holes.

Larry Weber of Stevensville was walking his dog last week at St. Joseph’s Riverview Park when he came upon a female snapping turtle which was digging a nest hole.

Female snapping turtles have been known to travel over a half mile from water to find a nesting location. Sometimes the female starts several potential holes, and abandons them before completing the final nest.

Females deposit on average of 25 to 50 eggs into the nest cavity and then return to water. Eggs hatch on average after two-to-three months. Cool, damp conditions may lengthen the incubation period.

If young hatch during October or November, they may wait until spring to emerge from the nest.

Arthur Herman photographed a Cooper’s hawk on June 19, after it had landed on a bluebird house in his Hagar Township backyard.

Cooper’s hawks are year-long residents in Southwest Michigan. In winter they are seen often terrorizing birds and mammals at bird feeders. I often feature the species in this column in winter.

Cooper’s hawks belong to the genus accipiter, which includes 50 additional species. The sharp-shinned hawk and northern goshawk of the same genus appear from fall through spring in Southwest Michigan, although the northern goshawk is uncommon this far south.

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