Seven Ponds Nature Center

A Nature Sanctuary and Environmental Education Center

Field Tours
For information on any field tours offered by Seven Ponds in 2018, or to be placed on a mailing list for future field tours, contact the center at 810-796-3200.


A mid-winter escape to a birding
mecca – what could be better?

January 18-25, 2018

A birding tour organized by Seven Ponds Nature Center.

THE VALLEY. Two words that conjure classic images in birders’ minds: Green Jay, Plain Chachalaca, Great Kiskadee, Clay-colored Thrush, Green Kingfisher, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Altamira Oriole… the list goes on and on. The Lower Rio Grande Valley is where east meets west, were north meets south, where Mexican species regularly show up on U.S. soil. A place, as author Pete Dunne notes in his book The Feather Quest, “Where check marks grow on trees!”

Join us for a mid-winter trip to this special place, which regularly shows up on top ten of lists of U.S. birding destinations. The wide variety of habitats in the Lower Rio Grande Valley – including desert scrub, riparian woodlands, tropical forest, coastal shoreline and estuaries, and others – attracts one of the greatest diversities of birds in North America: over 520 species have been documented in the Valley. We will visit such hotspots as Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Falcon Dam, South Padre Island, Sabal Palm Sanctuary, Quinta Mazatlan, Laguna Atascosa NWR, Santa Ana NWR, and others. These hotspots will give us access a wide variety of habitats, and put us in contact with upwards of 300 species of birds in January. Our tour will be led by south Texas birding guide Mary Gustafson, Seven Ponds Nature Center Executive Director Daryl Bernard, and Seven Ponds Naturalist Nancy Kautz.

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Great Wildflowers of the Great Smokey Mountains
Waterfalls, Old-Growth Forests, Wildflowers, Wildlife
and Cultural History!
April 15 - 20, 2018

The Southern Appalachians contain some of our country's most impressive natural features. At the heart of this area is Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited park in the United States. The park is an International Biosphere Reserve which preserves the world's finest example of temperate deciduous forest.

Diversity is the hallmark of the Southern Appalachians. Fertile soil, abundant rainfall, and a variety of growing conditions encourage a number of different plant and animal communities. Broadleaf trees predominate in the coves, oak-pine forests cover dry mountainsides, and spruce-fir forests, like those found in Canada, thrive at upper elevations. Great Smoky Mountains National Park contains a world renowned variety of flora including more than 1,500 kinds of flowering plants. With the tremendous plant diversity, a wonderful variety of birds, mammals, and amphibians abound in the park as well.

The scenery in the Southern Appalachians is spectacular. A smoke-like haze envelops the mountains in picturesque fashion, helping to provide the name for the national park. Rustic trails wind through rich woodlands, along rushing streams to waterfalls and overlooks. The area’s unspoiled landscapes are similar to those found by early settlers. Restored log cabins, stone walls, and pioneer cemeteries maintained in Great Smoky Mountains National Park stand as reminders of those who carved a living from the wilderness.

Seven Ponds has offered numerous trips to the Southern Appalachians in past years, and is pleased to offer this spring trip led by our own naturalists. The trip includes many of our favorite destinations in and around the park. Our activities will allow us to experience a variety of the area’s features, including spring wildflowers, birds, trees, salamanders, mountain scenery, cultural history, and more. Spring wildflowers should be near their peak bloom. Most of the trip's hikes and other activities will be easy to moderate in difficulty, but activity options of a more strenuous nature are also a part of the itinerary.